I am sure that everyone has come across the “Minecraft” game in some form or way. My exposure to this game was when my kids asked me last year if they are allowed to download the free version of the game, which I agreed. After playing it for months and unable to save their progress, they kept on asking me to download the full version, which cost $6.99AU.
I said NO.
They kept on playing the game and as they did new features kept on getting added to the game that made it better. However they still couldn’t save their progress and they kept on asking me to allow them to download the full version.
Eventually after a stellar week of good behaviour I couldn’t say NO to them and they got the full version at the beginning of the year.
For the uninitiated, Minecraft is one of the biggest games in the world right now. It debuted on Mac and Windows PC in May 2009. By February, 2014, it had sold 15 million copies of the PC version. Also in the same month, Mojang (the makers of Minecraft) had sold more than 21 million copies of Minecraft: Pocket Edition on Android and iOS; more than 12 million copies of the Xbox 360 Edition; and more than 1.5 million copies of the PlayStation 3 Edition — making for a sum very close to the 50 million mark. They have over 100 million registered users.
Just imagine if a streaming service had those numbers. However, the argument would still be the same. Artists are not getting paid. We all know why this is so. Talk to your record label.
And they did all of this with piracy being rampant on the game. However, Minecraft’s developer Notch (Markus Persson) has been on record in saying that worrying about piracy was a waste of time, and it was much more important to focus on giving people a reason to buy.
“Piracy is not theft. If you steal a car, the original is lost. If you copy a game, there are simply more of them in the world. If you just make your game and keep adding to it, the people who copyright infringed would buy it the next week.”
Persson adds features to the game based on conversations he has on Twitter with random people and he fixes bugs based on the Minecraft community voting on the priorities. He is engaging with the users and a majority of those users are people who said that they copied the game initially, but then bought a copy for both themselves and a friend. Or they are people who didn’t ever buy a copy, but had friends who learned about it through them who then went on to buy copies.
There is a clear indicator here for any artist.
Make sure that everyone has access to your music.
I remember a time when I went to Utopia Records and I purchased four CD’s. They were “Subhuman Race” from Skid Row, “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” from Slash’s Snakepit, “Balance” from Van Halen and “Waiting For The Punchline” from Extreme. I hand over my cash and a sale goes onto their chart record.
The fact that “Subhuman Race” and “Waiting For The Punchline” gathered dust on the shelves, while I played the hell out of “Balance” and “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” didn’t even come into the equation. All of those bands got a “SALE” or a “COUNT” from me. The fact that two albums connected with me more than the other didn’t even come into the equation. Probably the reason why SLASH is still such a force to be reckoned with in the music business, while Skid Row and Extreme, not so much.
That is why a lot of the Eighties bands couldn’t understand or get a handle on their decline in popularity. Everything under the sun got blamed, however the real reason was ignored.
WHAT DOES A SALE OF A PIECE OF PLASTIC/VINYL REALLY MEAN?
Everyone saw a sale as a fan number, a unit to add up, however the fact that the real fans listened to the music non stop and due to playing it to death they had to re-purchase the album.
In my music collection, anyone will see that for bands like Motley Crue, Dokken, Megadeth, Van Halen, Ozzy Osbourne, Metallica, Twisted Sister, Bon Jovi, Whitesnake, Stryper, Ratt and many more, that I would have an LP, plus a CD, plus for a select few, remastered releases and remastered releases with bonus tracks. That means that I have re-purchased the bands whole catalogue over 4 times. And I am sure I am not alone in that.
In other words, a sale of an album never reflected what we (the fans of music) did with the albums after we purchased them. The second-hand music market thrived for a reason as music consumers got rid of those albums that gathered dust. However, was this stat shown.
But what about all the tons of money, lawsuits, lobbying, education campaigns, advertising, threats, news reports and the like from the recording industry, all telling people who unauthorized downloading was unquestionably morally wrong and that each download is a lost sale.
The developers of Minecraft (who struck even bigger when they got acquired by Microsoft in 2014) showed that you can compete with free and that you can get people to commit if you focus on the art. Making money was always a byproduct and in the end they made a bunch of it.