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Marketing crappy products

The print edition of this month’s Fast Company magazine features a sidebar item on “creative” marketing for hip-hop albums. One quote in particular, about a beeper-shaped USB drive preloaded with MP3s and video extras, jumped out at me as not quite right…

"Kids aren't programmed to buy tangible products - CDs are cumbersome to them," Apathy says. "Selling through iTunes doesn't work because they can download it for free [elsewhere]. You need to give them something they can't otherwise get."

Here’s the thing: Piracy isn’t destroying the music industry. Shitty music is.

There’s nothing wrong with word-of-mouth worthy marketing. But it needs to support a great product. If the success of iTunes has shown us anything, it’s that people will buy good music. iTunes has been a boon to independent and small artists, who can now reach undreamed of markets.

And people aren’t buying less music. They’re just not buying whole albums anymore. They’re buying the songs they like and ignoring the rest. Want to get around it? Make better music.