Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

How to Sell Songs on iTunes if You’re Not Miley Cyrus or Katy Perry

In the old days, a couple of years ago, the best way to sell digital music was to get your song featured in an Apple commercial.

New option: Get your song featured in the series finale of a really popular show.

More than 10 million people watched the last episode of “Breaking Bad” Sunday night, which means more than 10 million people listened to “Baby Blue,” Badfinger’s 1971 hit. And, as reports suggested earlier this week, a bunch of people bought the song that very night.

Nielsen SoundScan said that more than 5,300 digital copies of the song were purchased Sunday night. For comparison’s sake, the song sold 200 copies in the previous week and had never moved more than 1,000 copies in a week.

But even a really popular TV show can only do so much, and a song that came out four decades ago is still no match for people who were born a couple decades ago. “Baby Blue” has indeed vaulted onto iTunes’ top sales chart, but it’s down at 27, well below multiple entries from Katy Perry and Miley Cyrus.

Entertainment Weekly has a charming interview with Joey Molland, Badfinger’s sole surviving member (who won’t see a big check from the sales, but presumably will sell more concert tickets in venues like Panama City, Fla.). And the New Yorker’s Ben Greenman has a very smart piece about the way Very Important TV Shows use pop music these days.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work