Music sales were down last year. The RIAA blames the Internet. I'll quote Hilary Rosen:
Blah blah the Internet yak yak those damn kids! gobble gobble back in my day we had to walk uphill through the snow to pay lots of money for scratchy records and we liked it that way yadda yadda I'll get you, my pretty, and your little dog, too! blah blah why do they think we paid good money for those Congresscritters? blah blah...
It's just a hobby.
Pals Chance McClain and Kevin Ryan write funny songs about Houston athletes -- absurd, whimsical bits on anything from a third-string Texan quarterback to Astro Daryle Ward's waistline.
"We write 'em fast, record and never perform 'em again," McClain said. "After our little chuckle, we move on to the next one."
But they're not letting go of the Yao Ming song.
McClain and Ryan's strategy of first giving their music away may be a wave of the future in the record industry, according to Dan Workman, president of Sugarhill Recording Studios in Houston.
"There is a big paradigm shift in the music business," Workman said.
Traditionally, musicians first perform their songs live and try to reach an increasingly large number of people to get the attention of a record company.
However, the music world realizes it has to change in part because of the Internet which makes it so easy to download music.
McClain and Ryan did not set out to make money from their music. Nevertheless, Workman is impressed by their accomplishment, which was to "go about things totally backwards, cultivate a market by giving it away, which created a huge buzz."
"They didn't try to carefully control the entry of their product," Workman noted.
In comparison, many musicians are stingy with their artistic property and extremely protective of their work, and Workman will sometimes tell them, "If you're not famous, chances are they're not going to steal from you anyway."
Giving one's product away to create consumer interest is a long-standing business marketing practice.
In the music business, Workman said, other artists are trying something similar: They offer their music free online and hope to make money by charging for live performances.
The troubled music industry should welcome new approaches, Workman said.