In conversation with Imogen Heap
Meet the Essex-born, Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter, Twitter-star and recent collaborator on acclaimed musical television series The Dewarists.
Why is your music not available in India? As an artiste, is there something you can do to persuade the music industry to take emerging markets like ours more seriously?
I have a major label representative in India, but I imagine one of the main reasons they don't put the record out is they can't guarantee a certain amount of sales. If it's a big act, you know a certain percentage of people have probably heard it and will buy it. I have my own label and license the music, so I understand the difficulties. The amount it costs to put out a record, to manufacture a CD and market it, is immense � and I'm not trying to stick up for record labels here, but the proportion of illegal downloads to sales is so high here that it almost doesn't give an incentive to a record label to produce anything.
I'm upset that people can't go out and buy it legally, but I think we are in a transitional phase. The technology to download music exists, but we haven't caught up with it yet. The industry hasn't set a viable alternative to buying a physical CD. We can buy the download, but people are so used to not paying for music anymore that it almost seems like it should be free to a lot of people. We need to figure out a mechanism, a structure that makes sense for both artists and music lovers.
People don't think about the person at the end of the chain. They feel that because the record industry has taken so much money in the past and made CDs so expensive, the musicians don't need it; but, actually, we do. I think places like India, China and Indonesia, where people are enjoying so much music, is where money will be for musicians. It's almost like the new frontier. If a structure did work out, where artists get paid micro-transactions for each sharing or downloading, you are no longer criminalising your fans.
You've popularised Vokle and are working with technologies that change the way artistes play live. Is there anything on that front that has got you excited?
I think one of the things made pretty apparent, even in the past year, is how much I can output creatively in such a short period of time, because the mechanisms are more in place. Everyone is on Vimeo, YouTube and Twitter, so one can connect with many people really quickly. For the first time, I am making films, compiling art with amateur photographers and paying them for their work. To combine all of this is exciting. It's become more dynamic and immersive for me. Even if everyone is sharing the creative process, I feel as if I have the reins. I feel almost overwhelmed by the possibilities.