Shifting Music Industry Presents New Challenges


More and more I think of the Bob Dylan song, “The Times They Are A-Changin’.” Well it seems no business or industry is inured from this fact of life and particularly so the music industry.

Quinlan Road began, as many of you know, at my kitchen tabletop and busking on the street. Beyond being a passion, it was inevitable it would become a business. Quinlan Road was built on people hearing the music and then choosing to stay in touch by joining the Quinlan Road Community.

As the music industry continues to evolve, we want to be sure that we don’t lose you in the flotsam and jetsam of the changing times. More than ever, we want to stay close to you, to narrow the distance between ourselves and you and hopefully by doing this we’ll be able to serve you better in a variety of ways. We are hopeful the best way for us all to stay connected is through the Quinlan Road Community – and that you’re enjoying what we have to offer.

As you know, there’s no cost to join and being a member gives you access to front-of-the-line tickets to concerts, participation in online chats, quarterly newsletters, breaking news updates and access to exclusive contests and special offers.

We thank you for your membership and your continued interest in the music and ask that if you know anyone who’s a keen supporter and would benefit from membership, please encourage them to join too.

On a final note, I’d be interested to learn about your thoughts on the current state of the music industry. Do you think music should be free? Do you prefer to get your music online or from a music store? To discuss these and other issues, please visit our message board and share your views.

Original Post
My thoughts of the music industry...

First of all I think you have to be a strong person to be able to handle the pressure from the media, the fans, the frenzied life of touring and the fact that you will be recognized on the street.

As for the question about whether music shall be free...
Free like the bird? No bonds (…or cages…)
I know a lot of music which can make me feel free.

Well, off the track I went again...

I think that music is something that should be paid for. Unless of course the artist(s) pronounce that he/she(/it; eh sorry the old injury from my English lessons in school broke up again; they) will play for free.
The reason I think it shouldn't be off charge is that like in other businesses you need to earn money for living.
I'm not sure the fact making people happy with your music puts food on your table.

But from a poor students point of view… it surely is more economic to download free music.
But then it is against the (Danish) law to download music from the net for free. Unless you download from some sites which have permission to give music for free for downloading. Which was announced recently.

I guess it depends on my mood if I go to the shore or order the music online.

And I do not truly think that the trends can be stoped.

Anxious 2
Well this is a new addition.

I've been thinking about this topic for awhile and I know I've asked some questions about this on other threads on this board and the OWL. To be honest I still have very mixed feelings about the answers to these questions. Of course, I would like to hear your feedback on this Loreena, seeing that this concerns your work, but for the interest of this debate I'll broaden my scope to the entire music industry/artists.

1. Should music be free? Well, on principle, the only way I personally feel comfortable with it being "free" is something like a free download off the official artist's website. I like it when I can go to an official site and they had a song streaming on their site that you could hear in its entirety. I think QR did that with Caravanserai in anticipation of AAM's release. Another option I've used in the past (not so much lately) is through a site like Myspace. I've seen artists set up an official site through their record company (Fergie, Nickel Creek, etc) and they'll put a few songs on their music player than people can either download or just listen to on the site which would then promote users to go to a place like iTunes or a free-standing store to buy the rest of the album. Which brings me to my next point - where I buy my music.

2. While it took me a few years to jump on the iPod train, I have to say that Apple has singlehandedly changed how I view music. Again, AAM proves my point. The morning AAM was available for release, I immediately went to iTunes and downloaded it on to my computer. By the time I would've been able to buy it in-store, I'd listened to the album about five times. Of course, I still went to the store and bought a hard copy because in this instance it's important to me. While I do miss going to the store and holding a hard copy of an album and flipping through the liner notes (a PDF just isn't quite the same), the price difference and appeal of keeping all my music in one spot beats out that impulse. Perhaps what the future will mean is more interactivity online to make up for the lack of appeal for physical CD cases. The redesigned Death Cab for Cutie website is one example I can think of off the top of my head.

3. Promotion. This is where I start to have a crisis of principle. Specifically, I'm thinking of places like YouTube, and this Loreena, is where I'm specifically interested in hearing your thoughts on how YOU feel about this. I guess my answer to resolving my discomfort of how I feel about seeing clips of things from NFTA, or "free" music where in theory people could go on a site like YouTube or Songza and listen away to most of your albums and never have to pay you a thing, is better Offical Artist Website management. Simply put, I would not mind watching something like the Visit EPK or a clip of you performing for the Queen or the Toronto market if it was on your website vs. the almost guilty pleasure I get from seeing it on YouTube. I have noticed with record company big name artists, either the time involved going after people who illegally put up videos on YouTube is too great to warrant all that effort, or they figure the cost difference in a little "free" promotion can't hurt as they're probably betting viewers will go and buy the album. But with the proliferation of listening to perhaps not all, but most of an album "free" online, how much cost are you really losing? And as a non-big-name record company artist vs, the Top-40 singers, how much of that cost difference impacts you really? I realize there is a lot of content to the QR site already, but putting in something like a "time capsule" feature where viewers would be able to watch bits from the Visit EPK or what have you would cut down on people doing it on Youtube. Perhaps that takes too much server space, I don't know. And perhaps all this is moot because no matter how well you run your ship, someone will always be trying to find a way to make it leak. I just hope for your sake, and other music artists' sake, that the ratio isn't unfairly tipped towards the "free" music consumers. We all know how little profit artists see under the big record company management and how hard it is for fledgling indie and underground artists even to be noticed without shows like American Idol it seems lately, that I just have a hard time advocating that they should receive even less payment.

Sorry for the length. I hope this addressed some of your questions.

You are talented enough to not only peform music so well but to compose and arrange it. I listen closely to the movement in your compositions and some is so beautifully orchestrated and played that sometimes the vocals need not be there. It is an added bonus to hear you sing.

Such effort should not go unrewarded and in my opinion, it should not be free. I have paid for your CDs because it seems only right to do so. This world would be a dull place if it wasn't for performers of all kinds, they deserve payment. (Even a couple of gallons of beer after blowing down a Tuba for hours Cool)

You already provide sound bytes on your web site to give an idea of the Albums, that's what I listened to before buying, so you appear to have some publicity issues already resolved.

You must be very proud of your success, rightly so and if I get the impression that you may want to perform for free, does that put food in the dogs' bowls ?

I'll happily keep paying, especially if you do some new songs Wink
Hi Loreena, what a pleasure you on the message board!!
Reading your post made me think that I couldn’t help answering your questions, particularly when you used the word “free”…I felt a bit involved, given my nickname! Big Grin Joking aside, I think that it’s actually exciting, I speak for myself, to run in order to buy your music in a music store, even after a while of anxious wait; it isn’t that I want to be “traditionalist” at any cost, as basically I am not, but I believe that in a world where everything is so fast, everyday life is a run against the clock, is so “compressed”, at least time for music would be untouchable, unchangeable; I mean, time for music is rest, wait time for that rest is sacred, like for a holiday, you can’t compress it. I don’t like “all at once with a click”.
Many times the harder challenge is trying to preserve ourselves from changes and keep our value. Something new is not necessarily righter or better.
I like so much waiting for your albums’ release dates, a bit less when they are postponed for any reasons and that delay makes me feel so bad; nothing can’t really be compared to my joy when after so a long time, I take your new album in my hand and go to the checkout to pay. Odd? I’m happy as I must pay! Roll Eyes

About costs, generally speaking albums should be less expensive, but I’m not referring to QR; actually, I have to admit that Quinlan Road has already done much; I refer to your first six albums in limited edition with DVD sold at the same cost of a CD. To be honest I appreciate this kind of choice rather than anything else, such as free music online,…..”despite my deep nature”! Big Grin

I too personally want so much to keep in touch with you and it would be great to narrow the distance between us once more, but live concerts, chats, this message board and everything QR is capable to do and does is really more than I could expect, when I chose to join this group.

I don’t know much the current state of the music industry, so I’m aware that my opinion is quite irrelevant; here in Italy some say that it’s going through a crisis, because of the heavy decrease of sales. Causes are illegal downloads, illegal copies, financial problems of Italian families and so on; I don’t know how the music industry could save itself and if this kind of problem strikes Canada too. Anyway, if free music online might be a solution and a support to the music industry, if you judge more useful for you and your business to make choices in this direction, I’ll be happy to accept any decisions you make; the utmost is actually to continue to have the chance to listen to your music, in any format you prefer, and, possibly, see you live on a stage, which is absolutely amazing! (I hope to be able to go to Brescia in July, who knows! Roll Eyes..)


I think it is great what you are doing. I know of no one else that does what you do. I have been a member for about 1 1/2 years now and have benefited greatly. I got to sit ten feet away from you in Portland, Maine and watch your entire show from the second row because of how you run your business. I met with your band earlier that evening because they were simply sitting on the wall up the street as I was walking to the show. I met with you briefly in Boston earlier last year because you care enough to take the time to meet with us. I even spoke with you on the phone once on a Saturday morning when I had a question about ordering sheet music. I couldn't believe it was you that answered the phone.
One unusual thing I've heard about in the music industry is that the band Radiohead sells their music on-line in their own way. They make it availalable through downloads. You pay what you want, get what you want, and that's how they make their money. If they sell a million of something at a dollar, they've made a million dollars. I'm not 100% sure of how it works, my son was trying to explain it to me.
The music industry was the big losers in the music download explosion. Instead of embracing it, and trying to find ways to make it work, the big gready corporate giants took a big hit
and now their trying to play catch up.
There's to many categories now in music. I'm a baby booming rocker that is willing to listen to other things, because I do get bored very easily with "Classic Rock". I like country, blues, I like Brian Hughes' music very much.
Right now I'm listening to alternative rock.
Seether, Flyleaf and the Sick Puppies all in their own way very good, but all very new. I'm always looking for that "fresh new thing" because I love the music I grew up with but it get's to be "been there, done that" after a while.
I know this is long winded but you asked for our input and that takes time.
When you're back in Portland look me up.
I passed your question about copyrights on to Loreena's Business Affairs Consultant, Ian Blackaby, and here is what he had to say on the topic.
Best regards,

"Either a creative work is protected by copyright or it isn't. There is no grey area. So The Mummers' Dance, Happy Birthday, Send In The Clowns, Crazy Frog are all equally protected until the copyright expires (usually 70 years after the death of the composer).

When you buy a cd or a DVD or a digital download and the accompanying legalese says you only have permission to use the music for "your personal use" that's exactly what it means. No broadcast, no theatrical, no public performance, no uploading, no copying etc without gaining a separate license to do so. This includes live performance.

If an event is open to members of the public, even an invited audience, then it is the responsibility of either the venue or the promoter to pay for a license that covers the rights of the composers songwriters. In the US those rights are dealt with by BMI and ASCAP.

Of course private parties are a grey area to which most in the industry will happily turn a blind eye. I think we all know that such a strict interpretation would bring into its clutches every party giver, every iPod owner, every mix tape compiler and everyone who has burned an extra copy of a cd or run off cassette copy of an album for their car or second stereo system. That would more or less make a pirate of us all but that does not diminish the songwriter's right to have their work protected or the fact that a copyright is a piece of property that should be just as defendable from theft as a car or a house. There are a number of rights vested in a piece of art and where there is a right the law has to provide a remedy and that remedy is copyright enforcement. For avoidance of doubt a web site is not a grey area. If you don't obtain permission from the entities that own the copyright in the recording AND the composition then you are over the line of legality.

My personal view is that once you have paid for a recording you should be able to do what you like with it for your own domestic listening pleasure. However if one actively seeks to obtain copyrighted music for nothing (unless the owners have explicitly permitted it to be given away) or one seeks to profit from making the music available to others, either financially or in terms of exchange or trade or kudos or self-promotion, then the line has been crossed. At times that's a very fine line indeed, especially when word of mouth has played such a big part in the growing of Loreena's audience, though it is our hope that a Loreena listener would understand the difference between proselytising her music in an acceptable and respectful manner and engaging in mass distribution.

At Quinlan Road we protect Loreena's copyrights as vigorously as the law and the available technologies allow us to. On the other side of the coin Quinlan Road prides itself on being quick to respond to all manner of unsolicited requests from any number of third parties for the use of Loreena's music and we grant gratis licenses to all kinds of individuals, bodies and associations to which the majority of companies operating in the music business would fail to give the time of day."
Dear Loreena, dear all,

Personally, I find it kind of difficult to judge about
"the" music industry. On the one hand, listening to
music (both recorded as well as live) has been and still
is my number one passion. On the other hand, I've long
been grumbling at how the music industry has evolved
in recent years: In my opinion, one of the main problems
seems to be the vast amounts of money which is being given
by the record companies to very few "major" artists. As
a consumer I cannot accept tens of millions of dollars
being paid to artists in advance without any single note
being written nor any tune being performed live. This in
turn seems to be one (the?) reason for the overall CD prices
and the record companies pressuring radio stations to play
certain songs so many times that they climb up the so-called
charts. To make things clear: I'm not referring to QR here!

Music definitely should not be free! Musicians need to
make a living and if selling CDs is one way of doing so
(which very often it is not)
I'm more than willing to buy those CDs. Although (or maybe
because of? :-) ) I am a computer scientist my main
music device is still the CD player, not the MP3 player.
Like others here said before I love listening to a CD
while reading through the booklet. That said, I disagree
with record companies complaining about decreasing
CD sales because of illegal music downloads. In fact,
there's an interesting study published by the Harvard
Business School in 2004 ("the effect of file sharing on
record sales") which concludes that "file sharing has no ...
significant effect on purchases". I would even argue that
the opposite is true: I, for instance, like downloading
MP3 snippets from an artist's web site and regularly
go ahead and buy the album afterwards.

Wrt the QR community I couldn't feel more connected to
you, Loreena, and everyone working for you. As for me
I cannot speak of a "distance between ourselves and you"
and am looking forward to seeing you performing live
this summer. Keep up the fantastic work! :-)

As a side-note - I've had to professionally deal with
companies such as BMG and Napster (back in 2000, before
they collapsed). The "business" looks even more strange
from the inside...

Best wishes, Stefan.
Never rains but it pours on this topic.

After reading the new responses on this topic, there was one thing in general I wanted to respond to and that was the splicing of copyright as far as listening to music at parties and burning a CD as backup of online mp3 files that was legally purchased. I did not know an argument could be made that I was violating copyright by putting songs from a Loreena CD I bought onto an iPod. If that seriously is a case like what Ian was describing (and I haven't misunderstood), then what I was describing earlier of buying two versions of a Loreena CD, one hard copy and another iTunes or mp3 format legally should just fix that.

My question still remains what to be done with people who blatantly defy copyright (and I'm sure QR, Ian and even the rest of us would agree on that) and put things on YouTube or other file sharing free places. How do you stop that? The giant record companies, other than scare a few people with thousand dollars of fines hasn't done anything concrete. Is this an instance of the horse leaving the gate, never to come back again thanks to Napster showing people what could be?
That is my largest existential crisis about this whole "free" thing because it's not authorized by Loreena or QR. And yet again the response of big companies seems to be ignore everyone disregarding copyright. Anyone watch Britney lately? Of course you did, and the record companies rely on you watching all sorts of blurbs on Myspace and YouTube on it to generate money and buying albums. I'm just afraid that by the good cop/bad cop mentality the record industry is showing here, it hurts smaller outfits like QR who, presumably, don't have the time or the manpower dedicated solely to hunting down every instance of copyright infringement that occurs. Also, perhaps this dovetails nicely with the whole privacy debate, but in searching Loreena's name on YouTube, 5 videos alone from NFTA show up. One is the Mummmers Dance video, another is the Bonny Swans, and so forth. Of those five NFTA videos, they received 1,102,495 views, with one video alone reading 409,000 views.

I guess if you're the President singing to the Pope it's O.K. to sing "Happy Birthday".
At least these headlines say it's O.K.!

WASHINGTON - An enthralled South Lawn crowd of more than 9,000 sang "Happy Birthday" to Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday — twice

This adds up to 9000 copyright infringements according to what we are reading.
Hi Stacey, Hi Ian,

Originally posted by Stacey:
I passed your question about copyrights on to Loreena's Business Affairs Consultant, Ian Blackaby, and here is what he had to say on the topic.
Best regards,

"Either a creative work is protected by copyright or it isn't. There is no grey area. So The Mummers' Dance, Happy Birthday, Send In The Clowns, Crazy Frog are all equally protected until the copyright expires (usually 70 years after the death of the composer).

When you buy a cd or a DVD or a digital download and the accompanying legalese says you only have permission to use the music for "your personal use" that's exactly what it means. No broadcast, no theatrical, no public performance, no uploading, no copying etc without gaining a separate license to do so.

That is interesting since the situation here in Europe is quite different. European as well as national laws allow us to make up to seven private copies as long as no "technological measures" such as copy-protection measures are being bypassed. Thus, if I go to the store and buy the CD which does not contain any DRM-like crap I am indeed allowed to copy the songs to my MP3 player, regardless of what the accompanying legalese says.

This has long been discussed over here and the European Commission in 2001 came up with a Directive "on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society". This Directive had to be transposed into national legislation by the European Member States.

Please don't me wrong: I'm not at all encouraging illegal copies. For me, this is just another example of how different national legislations can be...

Cheers, Stefan.
My opinion may sound like a rant but this is how I feel.
I now choose to purchase my music online. Although there are some artist, Loreena included that I do choose to buy actual CDs
The main reason I choose to buy online..It's cheep! CDs in music stores and even in some budget retail stores can cost up to $20 or more.
As much as I hate moving my music listening experience to the 21st century. My pocketbook tells me it's a must.
Here is another issue I have within the music business.
It is the attitude of some artist who feel because they have made it big and are a huge success They feel it's OK to charge outrageous amounts of money for a ticket to their concert.
I understand your bank account has grown but some of the consumers' accounts haven't.
They are basically saying if you are worthy enough to come see me perform you must spend lots of money. It's BS and not to mention an insult to your listening audience.


I do believe that the music industry has gone through some radical changes in the last 10 years, and most of them not for the better. It seems the importance of being an artist has decreased and the importance of being something a company can market, slap on a lunch box, and mass produce at the cost of art has really increased.

I don't think music should be free. An artist has to earn his or her bread and butter, but I also don't think that the powers that be that set the prices for music have the right to fleece the public for $21 American for an 11 track album. I wish there was a way for the artist to receive 100% of what is due to them.

I admit, I have made the switch to digital download of most of all of my music. I still love to go into a record store and buy CD's and Vinyl LP's. That tangible sensation of holding the cd in your hand and reading the liner notes cannot be replaced by any major legal download site. It is, however, terribly convenient to log into i-Tunes and select the one song you want to have from a specific artist, and to pay a very reasonable price for it.

For artists that I admire and follow I will take the time to go out and buy a physical copy of their newest work.

Enjoy the European Tour. Hope to see you again in America soon.

I would like to add that ALL music is free! It's just where you look for it. Most of the time it's right in front of you.

OK enough with the riddles Idon't think it should be free (speaking of marketed music)
It just should be within reach.

Hi there,

I just joined the message board. My thoughts on purchasing music: I prefer shopping online for music. I occasionally like going into the stores, just to browse, but online is much more convenient. I think by shopping online, you have the best chance of locating music that is generally hard to find and there is more of a selection.

Should music be free: Hmmmm...? If it is meant that Artists shouldn't be given royalties for their work and talent, I would have to say, no. I don't think music should be for free. Personally, I love purchasing cds of artists who I admire and support them in their quest to grow through their music. Being a musician must be wonderful, but it has its challenges too. And for them not to receive their just rewards, in order to continue, is unthinkable. One year, I visited Angola, Africa, where my parents are now living, and on the streets they sell CDs. Unfortunately they were bootleg. My mom and I were thinking that the persons, who were selling these bootlegs, were actually paying for their meal, of which he or she would not have received without selling the bootleg cds. But on the other hand, the artists worked very hard to get to make this CD, let alone the cost of travel, instruments, time looking for venues to play. They have worked tirelessly to continue the traditional African music and unfortunately they do not receive a cent for their love of music. It is their way of life of which I’m sure they want to nurture, but is put on hold because of this bootleg business. I mentioned to my mom that these artists are not receiving anything for those CDs. And that it’s not fair. Mom agreed. Recently, my dad mentioned that the government is working to stop this infringement on the artists’ livelihood. Angola is just starting to rebuild after many years of war. At that time, there weren’t many places to purchase music. Now they are at peace and they are building stores and malls. So now with new stores, people have the opportunity to purchase the “real CD” and support the artists. Music means a lot to me, and I’m sure it does for others. It’s a blessing to have artists express what’s in their hearts, because those expressions are what all feel as well or connect to and it’s nice to hear it from the roof tops. Wink
Delighted to hear one of my favorite artists asking for opinions. Smiler The case of copyright is pretty complex, with more angles than one might expect at first.

To begin with, it might be worth mentioning how I came to listen to Loreena's music: I was browsing the web and ran into a website where somebody had put up the Mummers' Dance as the background music. I was captivated, and wanted to hear more of it. After downloading more of the songs from file-sharing networks, I went and bought the CDs. Were Loreena to hold a concert in Finland, I'd pay a large amount of money to get to see her live.

But to answer the question - yes, music should be free (as should all culture, but that is digressing). It is true that CD sales have been down since the file-sharing era began, but people often miss on the fact that the prices for concert sales have been going up correspondingly. This fascinating article tells the tale of how the prices for concert tickets have gone up:

Back in the 1980s, a seat at a concert by a superstar cost about the same as one CD album. By contrast, last summer you could have bought Madonna's entire catalogue for less than half of what it cost to see her perform at Wembley Arena. The best seats in Madge's house went for £160. With the Rolling Stones at Twickenham last August, a decent view would have set you back £150, or £350 for a seat on the side of the stage. To put this in historical perspective, when the Stones played Wembley in 1990, they took some stick for charging £25, top whack. Now that demand for live music is on the up, nobody bothers to complain about what it costs any more. Euphoria at the news earlier this year that the Police had reformed obliterated all concerns that it would cost £90 to see them play at Twickenham in September.

This is not a local phenomenon. The $690 (£345) it cost to watch Elton John at Las Vegas in May set a new record for an American rock show. In Hong Kong last year, Robbie Williams charged £180. Even the less prosperous citizens of Chile were asked to pay £80 to watch Coldplay in Santiago's Espacio Riesco, a considerable sum in a city where the average monthly salary is around £250. Ticket inflation with smaller bands is less intense. But even a relative unknown like the American singer-songwriter Laura Veirs charged £15 for her London show at Bush Hall this July. More telling is the ubiquitous presence of touts outside low-key venues where no secondary market for tickets existed ten years ago.

Earlier in the article, it explains a new, fresh band distributing its music for free on MySpace and ending up on an immensly successful tour around the globe. Free music isn't killing music: it's just causing a change in business models, from CD-based to concert-based. And it's giving many artists an unprecedent popularity and independence from the major recording labels.

Then there's also the cultural angle. In an excellent speech held at Stanford, Rick Falkvinge paints a view of society that has legalized file-sharing and "taken a step forward much larger than the one when public libraries appeared" - suddenly all of human culture, or at least all the culture that has been digitized, is freely available for anyone, with only a few clicks of the mouse. If I want to hear some new music, I have instantly at my hands all the music that humanity has ever produced.

There's also a civil liberties side - file-sharing is so rampant, and so wide-spread, that serious attempts to crack down on it are impossible, unless you start monitoring all Internet traffic. And courts in Germany have already stopped dropping file-sharing related cases on the grounds that they don't have the resources to tackle both them and more serious crimes. If you'd want to prevent the sharing of music, you'd have to give copyright industries police powers so they could take care of it themselves. I don't think we want to go there.

So yes, I very strongly feel that music should be free.
"On a final note, I’d be interested to learn about your thoughts on the current state of the music industry. Do you think music should be free? Do you prefer to get your music online or from a music store? To discuss these and other issues, please visit our message board and share your views."

Should music be free ?? It'd be nice, but the reality is musicians and artists need to pay their bills somehow. With the huge success that iTunes is enjoying right now, it seems more and more people are paying for downloaded music, which is a great thing for musicians. They want the portability of the downloads, the convience of shopping at home online, and they can only buy one song off a cd, instead of buying the whole cd to get one song, if they choose, so paid downloads do have their benefits.

This is a very interesting topic for me, as I'm currently releasing a collection songs I put together over the years. So as an independent artist, recently I had to research the cost of producing cd's vrs the cost of paid downloads. For me, the cost of cd's was almost as much as what I could sell them for on CD Baby. I couldn't see any way to make a profit. However with paid downloads, I don't have anywhere near the costs of a cd. Packaging, the actual cd, shrink wrapping, marketing costs, shipping costs, all add up. With paid downloads, I can sell songs individually or by the whole album. So, I decided to go with a company called TuneCore, that for a small upfront fee, they will deliver my music to the major online music sellers, such as iTunes, Amazon, ect, ect...this makes sense for me as an artist, as my funds are limited, but I will still be able to get my music out there at a reasonable and affordable cost, without the need of a conventional record deal. Whether or not anybody buys them is another story, but it's a gamble I'm willing to take, and if I don't sell any, I won't be out any huge amounts of money, or be in debt to any record company. After seeing the huge success some artists are achieving with iTunes, Amazon, ect...I think paid downloads is the new music format of choice for many music fans, and a great thing for budding independent artists.

I hope this insight is helpful.
Dear Loreena,

Music should not be free. Artist have a difficult enough time making it and the business side of things has traditionally ripped off the artist. I believe in fair use of music that I legally own. I should be able to make copies for my own use. I have made some copies of your music to infect others and this has always worked such that they generally purchase their own copies. People will almost always pay for great music. Obviously, there are people who love to steal things just because they can, they will always be with us. For your music and the people who love it so they will gladly pay, I've bought about $100 worth of albums as gifts for others just in the last year alone. Your fans are your best marketing device.

As far as iPods, I don't own one but I understand that iTunes is the current trend and the future may be in that direction. I hope not. I for one miss album art, CD art is OK, but album covers really meant something back in the stoneage. Obviously you have to protect your products and I would think a Quinland Road site able to offer downloads would be the best thing. Your fans will seek you out, word gets around. Thank you so much for all the joy you've placed in my heart.
I prefer to go into the bank where the tellers know my name. I prefer to shop in small local stores where the clerks know my name. I prefer to get my prescription drugs from my locally owned drug store where my wife taught their children in school. I prefer to buy a physical copy of the music in a store. Computers crash, but I can move my CDs and DVDs from machine to machine.
Loreena asks if we think "music should be free." Well, I may be showing my (relative) age here, but my answer is "NO!!!!"

But then, too, I'm someone who grew up in a town where quite a few aspiring singers and groups had record contracts at one time or another during the late 50's-mid 60's, whose knowledge of the early history of rock and roll abd its accompanying ripoffs of the young and un-represented ed by legal counsel also comes into play, who has taught his own showbiz aspiring daughter four key words to always bear in mind: Keep the publishing rights.

I have no problem with artists deserving and earning fair recompense for both recordings and live performances. And I would probably thus never illegally download and dismiss the issue of payment for such downloads as somehow irrelevant, as restrictive of my personal "freedoms." That's simply not how I grew up.

That doesn't mean I'm terribly happy that a group like The Eagles can ask for, and actually get, several hundred dollars a ticket. And I certainly don't understand the seeming multitudes who will gladly pay such freight charges. But if it comes to that, then I'll just have to settle for seeing "lesser" performers live. Besides, seeing Dwight Yoakam for $35 at a club is hardly "settling" anyway.

I'm also someone who likes liner notes and accompanying photos, the more detailed the better. So again, this keeps me from integrating with the downloading generation.

There is a certain element of society lately that seems to think music should be free. And even at the great shows at Fillmore East in the late 60's when the top (top, I said!) ticket price was about $10, there were always yobbos in the streets shouting that those prices were a ripoff, that music should be "free," should be an entitlement. My own view is that anyone who seriously maintains such nonsense today (as well as believed it back then) simply does not understand issues like food, clothing, rent, health insurance, etc.

Therefore I don't at all begrudge artists their daily bread. To do otherwise, I suggest, is ridiculous. I even retain some general sympathy for recording companies (with the caveat that Columbia's "...but the man can't busy our music" ad campaign of the late 60's was truly a dumb idea and only tried to blur the idea of who "the man" really was back then as a means of making a buck).

Loreena, I should also note that I have found your own ticket prices eminently fair the two times I saw you at Radio City, and I have only a vague idea of just how costly touring can really be.
I've preferred getting digital versions of music since I was 12, and MP3s first started making the rounds. I am an American, but I now live in Australia, and this fact alone has made me want digital media that much more.

As I'm sure others from distant lands can vouch, buying a CD is expensive enough, but buying one from, in my case, Australia turns into a very expensive treat--and one I rarely take part of, unless I'm getting something secondhand off eBay.

And about music being free...I'm still debating that one. The music industry only is what it is now because we moved away from musicians making money off of touring (for the most part) to getting music into our homes. Nothing wrong with that, but I guess when you look at it, we've come full circle, now that musicians are having to get more of their revenue from touring. I think Radiohead proved with their latest album that a donation-based download system can work. Just a thought. I'm still not sure what the right answer is, myself.

Should music be free? No. Is it good for it to sometimes be free? Yes.

Music is a product. It's something a human being produces with his or her abilities. I also think of it as a service. Should a lovely gown sewn by a seamstress be free? Should a painting painted by an artist be free? Should the services of a electrician be free? No. None of us even expects that. Of course, with music, it gets complicated because it's so easy to spread around without money being exchanged, and it's hard to see it as stealing, since the artist doesn't do any extra work for every copy of the song/album that's out there. My feelings about just how wrong file-sharing is are mixed. I'm not sure how I feel about it. I confess that I do share songs with friends, and I do sometimes download music.

But I can say this: I spend hundreds of dollars on music now that I never would have spent without the availability of "free" music online. When radio was the only easy way to hear the music out there, I rarely purchased music. That's partially because only a small amount of the music played on the radio interested me, but also because I wasn't willing to throw down so much money on an album when I didn't know what to expect from the songs that weren't singles played on the radio. Now, I rarely turn on the radio, but I listen to lots of streaming music online and, yes, I download songs through peer-to-peer sharing networks. And I discover artists I'd never have heard, and I fall in love with the music, and I start obsessively watching their websites for announcements of a tour so I can buy tickets to see them live, and, of course, I buy their CDs...which brings me to answering the other question.

When it comes to buying music, I purchase CDs rather than purchasing downloads. I like having the physical CD and any art and annotations that come along with it. I like having the physical CD in case something happens to my computer or the physical files, but also because...I don't know. I just like it. Someone in an earlier reply answered that they download albums because it's so much cheaper. That may be the case in some places, but it's getting easier and easier to find physical CDs for the same price as downlodable albums. I rarely pay more than $10 or $11 (USD) for a CD.
I've read the board, and what strikes me that everyone is talking about what should be in stead of what is. In other words, I hear people talking about some dream-world where things are ideal.

But they aren't.

In todays reality, it is a fact that zillions of unprotected mp3 songs get exchange between listeners every day. I'm not talking about illegal sites that want to make money of the publicity. I'm talking of you and me, 'borrowing' music from our friends, relatives or even at times complete strangers.

Now that mp3 music is there, protected music is not going to stand a chance. Like DVD's and now also blu-rays, copy protection scheme's are always going to be defeated.

OK, I know this sounds negative. But one must depart from the truth if you want to have a decent basis for argumentation.

I know most or in any case many people still buy CD's and DVD's today, and do not copy. Why? Because you want the quality of the original - which is never in mp3's or similar compressed items.

However, I fear this is about to change with our IT-capable youth of today. They were born with mp3 and find it only the most natural thing to echange music. And believe me, when you are on college, your music library can grow fast. Are you going to put all these people in jail? I think is it a movement that cannot be stopped anymore.

So, less income from multiplying a song zillionfold. What now?

Now, I hear many people screaming: Shame on you! Alert the police! Kill this person!.

You'd only be targetting the mesenger, and not hearing the message.

Can the police or any other institution do something about this? I really don't know. Friends, social gatherings and the internet are (mis-)(ab-)used for free song copying and many other illegal activities. But it's not because the activities are 'illegal' that they are not done.

Then again, the native american probably said the disowning ofland by white people was also 'illegal' according to his laws...

Anyway, I want to stick to my point.
Songs on their own take only a very small bandwidth over the internet or space on your ipod. So, they are easy to distribute: you can even send a song by mail! With the growing speed and capacity of the internet and your computer, DVD's will follow.

You can make laws, but you can't stop a trend.
People are clever enough and technology so advanced, that "they will always find a way".

So, from my point of view, you have to put so much content on a CD or DVD, that publishing that whole content will not be economically interesting anymore for the listener.
An example is for instance copying a blu-ray. A virgin blu-ray is just a little cheaper then the original. So, there it makes no sense to 'copy and distribute'.

Another solution might be in creativity. I, myself am not a creative person. But songwriters are, I think. Money can be made through interesting web sites, that add content to the music. Money can be made through other art forms, that exist only in a single copy (paintings, sculptures, etc.). Money can be made when playing the music live. Money can be made by selling rights to use the music for venues, movie soundtracks, etc. I cannot think of all possible ways to expand bussiness to more then just a song multiplied a zillion time. But that's why you are the creative ones, and not me...

Anyway, I do whish Loreena good fortune. I think - luckily for us - her music is most popular with the more mature adults, and this is not the target group that will copy her music to own it. At least, I hope, because I love her music so very much, and hope she makes a lot more of it.

For those who are wondering:
I learned about Loreena from listening to a copy of her album I copied from a friend.

I liked the album SO much, I ordered all her available albums (except for the Xmas one) from

So yes, another poster has a point where listening to 'free' music can make you go out and actually buy the music.

But I think that's rather the exception then the rule....
Good afternoon Loreeena.
I certainly don’t mind paying to be entertained. With respect to your music, I enjoy it very much. I have four young children and they enjoy listening, and listening to my interpretations of your songs. I think they like the history lessons Smiler. I listen to your albums on my IPOD almost every morning my way into work. I haven’t bought the digital versions although I don’t have “The Visit” and I’ve been meaning to purchase it so I may make that my first online purchase.
Take Care.
Paul D
I may be a dinosaur because I've never downloaded music online. The effort spent to do that then to burn CDs is simply too time-consuming for me. I spend too much time on the computer as it is. I prefer to buy a CD that's been "professionally" manufactured that I know will last my lifetime. I am familiar enough with home-burned CDs to know that they are not permanent.

I used to purchase CDs from stores but they seem to have disappeared. Apparently, random browsing in record stores is not encouraged anymore. That works fine with artists whose work I am familiar with because I can go to their web site and purchase on-line from them or their agents. That's how I bought Ancient Muse and that's probably how I'll mainly continue to make purchases.

In my case, the "new" normal makes it difficult for me to discover new music unless I am lucky enough to catch something on the radio, and that means CBC Radio One, because nothing else on the air is endurable. I used to wander into CD stores and buy a previously unheard musician because it happened to be in say, the Cajun section or the Quebec traditional section. Now I don't do this anymore. As a result I buy fewer CDs than I used to.

Personally, I think that the idea that music be free is ridiculous. I frequent photography forums a lot and there is a similar discussion in them these days about copyright and distribution rights etc. It always strikes me as odd that photographers want to jealously guard everything they ever produce, even the stuff they throw away, but then expect to get photo-editing software for free. (I am exaggerating for effect.) As an ex-software developed in the IT industry, the idea that I would give up my work (computer programs) for free is laughable and I can't understand why anyone would do that. I am willing to give a photo of mine to a friend to hang up on their wall, but if a bunch of strangers see it and want copies, they'd better have some cash handy.

None of us are running charities. Whenever I hear someone making the case that someone else's work should be available for free, I ask them when they last worked for free. It usually ends the conversation.
Free or not? - I end up buying it if I like it/ or downloading it if it's free. When I hear a song on the radio I go to iTunes or a website to purchase it. If I like 3 or more of the songs I end up buying a CD for the better musical quality. The internet gives me the ability to choose only a few songs rather than have them chosen for me by the artist.

In your case, I feel that your liner notes are as important as the music that you are sharing (I always buy your CDs). What draws me in is your ability to explain/communicate your journey. It brings it all together and gives it true meaning. It is the lasting message throughout the years.

Thank you so much for your ongoing commitment to your music and your listeners.
My outlook is very simple. When the music is special to me, I buy the CD. I like to have it with me and I like the artwork and informational notes. I purchase online for the convenience of shopping at home and having it arrive at my door. (usually barnesand

I enjoy having online access to music as well to hear samples before I purchase. My tastes are very specific and I do not feel that I want to download. I occasionally listen to Rhapsody Radio because my internet provider offers access.
Greetings, Loreena…

In your spring newsletter, you asked for feedback on how I felt about music being free, the state of the music industry, and so on.

To answer (probably in massive overkill), I’m going to draw a comparison between the publishing industry and the music industry. It’s not a perfect comparison, but I think it gets some ideas across.

I work as a consultant for publishing companies and I am seeing a lot of similarities to the music industry, especially in newspaper, magazine, journal, and similar publishers. For a moment imagine a magazine as an album. Where an album is a collection of songs, a magazine is a collection of articles. Publishers are receiving demands from customers asking for articles now, rather than entire magazines. Not only that, sometimes they just want a certain piece of an article. The point is, the granularity of information being asked for is more unique, more customized, and more available.

Speaking very generally, music and writing can be considered “content”: something a consumer wants. With newer technology and (arguably) more convenient access to it, music and articles alike can be provided in smaller pieces. This is what consumers want.

Not only that, but they want to know what is related to a piece of content. Witness Amazon’s “your recommendations” and iTunes’ “Listeners also bought” features. So a service is a good thing that helps string this information together. Now we’re talking not just the content, but information about the content, and the relationship between the pieces. But the service has to be consumer-and artist-oriented. Not straight control and profit-oriented. The reason we (speaking generally) don’t care about the industry is because it’s become about them and their inflexibility in embracing a more granular model for selling music. Since I don’t know the industry well, this is probably a gross oversimplification, but it’s the simple perception, also.

In publishing, a lot of publishers of this type of content (books, generally speaking, are exempt from this model) are looking for a lot of customization and reuse of content in different ways. Here’s where the comparison breaks down some. But it may still spark an idea. Consider a company’s wide range of published content. Let’s say you want all the woodworking articles from 1985 – 1989 from 10 different magazines. Let’s say you can automate the publishing of that. You allow a customer to come in, find content, arrange it in their own method. Then, they “publish” a collection of that content. This way, a customer is directly affecting the way the articles are arranged, technology lets them publish it, but the content still belongs to the author or publisher. This can be sold as a collection or piecemeal. Note however, the granularity is down to the article. In music: the song. How do you feel about customers arranging your music in a collection that they like? We do it locally anyway – why not profit from it? And let a community rate the collections – what better way (aside from personal letters and community sites) to get good information on how people like your music?

The comparison breaks down further when you talk about digital media versus a piece of paper (or CD). In the new digital world, a “thing” like a CD which you can sort of control is not as available. And putting the ownership of digital rights management on a user is a pain.

This is not a one-sided thing, also. The artist has the most say in how music is produced and arranged. It’s (generally speaking again) their creation and should mirror what they want. If an album is it, and they love the tactile feeling of the CD cover, the smell of ink, the design on the CD, so be it. But for marketing and sales, it’s wise, probably, to allow it to be broken down too into smaller pieces. Music creation is way outside my own experience – appreciation of it is not!

As for the cost, I don’t think it should be free, but I’m not sure who should be paying for it. What am I willing to pay for? First and foremost, I want to pay a small amount for songs I like. If I like a pre-arranged collection of music, I’ll buy the album for around $10. I don’t like that the typical “best” song is always the “album only” song. I’d pay for tickets to see an artist, and to buy their merchandise. I’d pay for the experience of getting a chance for (briefly of course) being closer to an artist: backstage passes, or behind the scenes stuff, dinner with the artist, interviews, etc. I want my money to go to the artist, though. THEY are who I am interested in, and in who is creating the music. Not the label.

I guess ultimately, I have a huge library of music. Some are albums, some are individual songs. There is a variety of artists in there. I can make play lists of songs across artists, across music types, across popularity, and many other ways. I like iTunes’ general approach – the risk is, however, that they replace the music industry and stop listening to the customer and the artist. That they are the music industry that listened briefly, changed the model, but still killed on money and left everyone else hurting.

There’s a lot more that can be said – things about advertising, marketing, touring, and things the music industry seems to provide, but it also seems to be unfair to the artist and (speaking to the music industry a moment) for goodness sake, don’t punish the consumer for wanting to listen to music (read: RIAA).

I’ll stop here for now, and see what feedback there is. Do you think this all is a “novel” approach?
I don't think music should be free. All the hard work and endless hours the artists spends on making them and solicitating the albums is immense.

I myself don't buy much music from retail stores. Though I did go to walmart the other day and bought my mom "The celtic Ladies" or something or other album.

I would have much rather seen and bought Loreena McKennitt albulm from Walmart for her but they don't sell her albums there.
Music should be free ONLY when food, medicine, clothing, housing, fuel, books, toothpaste, legal advice/representation, and everything else that is traded for currency becomes free. And if we, as a global community, decide we want to work on a barter system in all areas of the economy, then music should be traded in that way, too. Others, in earlier postings, have mentioned the need of the artists to make a living. I agree. Additionally, on a selfish note, if I enjoy a musician’s work, I want to be certain that that individual or group has the opportunity to continue to make music to which I have access through sale. Take this scenario: A new artist is signed to XYZ major label. The label gives the artist and advance of $250,000 to produce a CD of music. The $250,000 is only an advance and must be paid back to the record company through the sale of the music. (It is my understanding that the pay-back occurs before the artist actually sees any profit from the sale of CDs.) Joe Blow hears the artist’s music and absolutely loves it. He must have a copy. So instead of going to the store or online to purchase the music legally, our friend Mr. Blow downloads the music (or trades it) for free. If there are enough Joe Blows out there, they have collectively ensured that the artist will be dropped from the label for failing to provide revenue to the record company (remember, this is a business…the theory here is that those providing the product/service intend to be paid in order to stay in business), never to produce this wonderful music again for the public’s pleasure. This concept, I think, is what somehow evades many of my fellow countrymen and music-lovers (most of whom, by the way, are also in business and expect to be paid for their work). Either that or they have bought into the unfortunate yet increasingly common misconceptions that (1) they are entitled to take whatever they want and (2) someone else will pay the costs to ensure that these musicians and record companies will stay in business.

With regard to the second question, I prefer to buy my music at a local (non-chain) retailer; however, that is getting more and more difficult to do as time goes by and such “mom and pop” stores are nearly extinct. So I will buy my music in a brick-and-mortar store if possible; otherwise, I usually shop at online retailers such as Amazon.

I will add that I prefer to purchase CDs and, in fact, have never purchased downloaded music. Like others on this board, I enjoy the artwork and liner notes that are included in CD packages, as I see them as a part of the entire work. These things tell part of the CD’s story and, in my view, are an integral part of the package. Also, having been a part of creating a collection of music for sale, I know that some songs don’t find their way into the collection or album. There is a reason for this: The songs that are included on a CD are chosen for the collection in support of the idea, picture, story, etc. the artist is trying to put across with the album. To buy songs piecemeal, to me, is like reading only one chapter out of a book. Without the other chapters, or songs, as the case may be, one can’t possibly know the whole story that the artist has created. However, I am sad to say that I fear the CD (or any form of pre-packaged music with artwork) is soon to be extinct.
I don't think that music should be free as in price, but free as in "Freedom". For example: certain CreativeCommons licenses allow people to adapt, remix, and extend existing artistic works. I think that 20 years after an album/book/movie is released, it should be liberated to the community.

With regards to albums vs. downloads, it seems to me that the Whole Album is a collective work, in which all the songs go together to make a whole. When people download just a few songs from different albums (via iTunes, for example) they get get the pieces but miss the mosaic.
Should music be admit that I have several discs that were given to me by the artists as gifts but I've bought music from said artists. The first artist that gave me one of his discs had been in a music class with me and we'd struck up a friendship and I'd bought him dinner. In the other situation, the artist gave me one of his albums to review and I was allowed to keep the album as a gift. In both situations the honor was mine. However, music being free is absurd since, how is the artist to make a living otherwise? When discs are burned for friends, it's wrong plain and simple. As is loaning discs with the idea of copying. And if the copier is making a profit, then it's even worse. As to the state of the music industry, I'm torn in that I think some new music is interesting, some good enough to actually put money out for and some is so horrible, it begs the question "just who did the artist pay in order to acquire a recording contract?". As to how I like to acquire my music, buying in the store satisfies my instant gratification arena, buying online satisfies my desire to get hard-to-come-by music and buying directly from the label satisfies my desire to make sure the artists gets every penny that he/she deserves.
Music should NOT be free. It costs time and money to record, mix, produce, and distribute music. If an artist wants to make a song or two available for free, they can. But all music can't be free.

I buy CD's and the higher resolution SACD, DVD-Audio and Vinyl formats. Occasionally, I'll buy songs from iTunes and burn CD's to play at home (I don't have an iPod).

To me, audio quality is extremely important, and I am willing to pay a premium for higher resolution SACD, DVD-Audio and Vinyl versions of albums. I've gone to the expense of ordering SACD versions of the Moody Blues and Dire Straits albums from Amazon.UK (SACD version not available in North America).

As well recorded as all your releases are, they would sound much better in SACD, DVD-Audio or Vinyl. SACD and DVD-Audio give you option of having separate stereo and 5.1 surround mixes on the same disc. When I play people high resolution versions of well known recordings, and then put on the CD version (if I have it), they turn their nose up at the CD version (the sonic improvement is that obvious)

If you ever decide to re-release your recordings in SACD or DVD-Audio, sign me up!
If the music I'm purchasing is from a favorite artist (Loreena more than qualifies!) then I prefer to have the physical, tangible CD in-hand.

Even if I'm only familiar with a song or two, I have enough faith in these artists to know that I will most likely enjoy the entire disc.

I like having the images, lyrics, liner notes, and list of performers and contributors on paper to learn from and refer to when listening.

I also prefer to have a "hard copy" of the music, in a linear (non-compressed) format.

I then will typically import the CD into iTunes and onto my iPod for listening on the go or in the car, but keep the CD for listening at home and for archival purposes in case something happens to my digital library.

If my interest is song-based - say, a song or two from an artist with whom I have little or no interest beyond those songs - well, that's when I appreciate the ability of on-line sources like iTunes to let me grab a song at a time in a cost-effective manner.

I appreciate the peer-to-peer sites for the ability to search and sample a huge variety of songs and artists. It's a no-risk way to grab a bunch of music, try it out, and then head over to a site such as iTunes and do the right thing by paying for the music.

Can you stop the Limewires of the world from allowing people to "steal" music? I'm not sure.

I feel strongly that artists should be paid for their work as you would pay for the goods or services of any professional.

As far as where to purchase the CD's? There was a time when I would delight in the time spent in a music store flipping through discs (or LP's for those of us who've been around that long!) but these days, I'm much more likely to shop via an artist's own site or a site like

I bought all of Loreena's CDs in CD form from a brick-and-mortar store except the most recent, which I downloaded from iTunes. I am grateful the liner notes were included with it, but I miss the "hold it in your hand" package.

The reason I downloaded it is because I live in a rural Arizona town with a single Barnes & Noble source for music, and I didn't want to wait for them to order it.

No, I don't think music should be free. Should a writer not be paid for her novels, or an artist for his mural or portrait? Should we not be rewarded for our talents?

By the same token, I would rather buy the music direct from the musician than pay a distributor or middle-man. I'd rather make the musician rich, not the suits. I don't know what percentage iTunes takes of a $9.99 album, but I'd be interested. If it's outrageous (as some art galleries demand 40%), I'll make certain that in the future I order direct from Quinlan Road.

I guess the bottom line is that I'm all for paying because I believe it encourages the artist or musician to continue creating. Music like Loreena's and a few others is so unique in this world, it needs encouraged in any form. I'm not a fan who sends gushing letters or waits outside a stage door for an autograph from the creator -- I stopped confusing the magic and the magician long ago.

The only way I know to show my appreciation is to pay for the privilege of being inspired by the creations and taken to "other" worlds while listening. There are only three artists I will purchase without hearing beforehand what I'm purchasing: Loreena is one of them, and one of the others has burned out.

As for preferences...I'm for getting the music the fastest way possible. If Quinlan Road had direct downloads, I'd buy them that way. DVD or CD, it wouldn't matter. Smiler

Originally posted by Loreena:

On a final note, I’d be interested to learn about your thoughts on the current state of the music industry. Do you think music should be free? Do you prefer to get your music online or from a music store? To discuss these and other issues, please visit our message board and share your views.


Hello, Loreena, or should I say Ms. McKennitt:

You touched on that issue of music as changing very well. I believe that we are losing sight of what music truly is. Nowadays, rap and hip-hop are taking over the airwaves, which is indeed most appalling, because it seems to be exclusive to and often associated with black people and thus, making them look like they are a bunch of gangsters and criminals. It's pure garbage. People claim that rap and hip-hop are "music", but that's not true.
The real definition of music is something with a "melody", like your music, which hip-hop and rap do not have, it's all talking poetry with laced with profanity, gross sexual content, drugs and violence. As your contemporary, Irish singer/musician, Enya said, "Music is the soul of any song". How about you, ma'am? What's your take on that whole hip-hop and rap nonsense?

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