The Google Exec Who Said ‘You Cannot Devalue Music’ Is Now Trying to Revalue Music…

Tim Quirk Tries a New Post-Google GIg
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Late last year, Google Play Music All Access executive Tim Quirk declared that devaluing music was absolutely impossible.  “I meant what I said very literally,” Quirk told an audience at the Future of Music Summit.

“You cannot devalue music.”

Now, nine months later and out of Google, Quirk is launching Freeform Development, a startup that will help artists earn more money first by gaining exposure, then by pushing fans to unlock content (ie, ‘gamification’).  Quirk offered a quick description of the revaluation plan on his LinkedIn page this morning.


45 Responses

  1. Tim Quirk

    The headline suggests those two things are contradictory. They aren’t.

    The whole point of my talk was that the same music has always had a different value for different listeners, and there’s more opportunity in recognizing and responding to that fact than there is in insisting a track is always worth exactly 99 cents. Freeform is built on the notion that you can’t devalue music, and that by starting from that point we can drive up the current market rates for streams and downloads.

    More context here:

    • Paul Resnikoff

      This doesn’t really make sense. Let me break down the illogicalities:

      (1) devaluation = lowering the value or price

      example: streaming at near-zero or zero valuation = devaluation from earlier consumption experiences.

      You said: this is impossible.

      (2) increasing valuation = raising the value or price

      You said this is possible: “we can drive up the current market rates for streams and downloads”

      In summary: you cannot lower the value of music, but you can increase it (from a depressed level). Makes no sense logically.

      • Tim Quirk

        Come on, Paul, it makes more sense than your headline.

        What I said is that equating the fact that streaming royalties do not currently equal purchase royalties with the notion that music is being devalued is mistaken. If anything, the fact that ever more people are consuming ever more music ever more eagerly is a demonstration that people value music quite highly. We just need business models to adapt to the different ways different types of listeners engage with music, rather than insisting all listeners generate the exact same revenues.

        Anyway, a more accurate headline would have been, “Guy Who Said You Can’t Devalue Music Is Now Trying To Prove It”

        • Paul Resnikoff

          About 5 years ago, before streaming took off, the IFPI estimated that 95% of all downloads were being pirated, ie, acquired for absolutely nothing on P2P networks and BitTorrent and with zero going back to the copyright owner. (Or, negative value going back to copyright owners if you recognized that a cannibalized sale is less than zero).

          In that context, how can you argue that P2P services weren’t devaluing the iTunes download, with structured price ranges between 69-cents and $1.29?

          • woa

            You are the only blogger who dares to talk like this to Google execs in public.

          • FarePlay

            Woa, Woa. I’d say that is a highly inaccurate observation, many, many bloggers express their displeasure with Google, even here on DMN. Besides, Paul has a news wire service and like every news media network has some degree of bias. It does appear that Mr.Quirk is no longer at Google, but if he were my question to him would be:

            “If you were sincere about maintains the value of music, how could you possibly work for a company with such disregard for it? It is one thing to use power to leverage one-sided deals, but quite another not to protect the very creators of the content you profit from? Google and Amazon don’t make anything, they’re distributors.”. Mr. Quirk, your response, please.

            It is no secret that Google has done very little to stem the tide of online piracy, even providing easy access to software programs that enable users to freely download content from YouTube.

          • dude

            You’re thinking of music like a commodity like rice or bricks or oil, which it most definitely isn’t… every song is not the same and its a pointless exercise in futility to try and put a value on “MUSIC” as a whole like its all interchangeable.

            There’s tunes out there that Im mildly interested in but that aren’t worth a 99c purchase on iTunes to me. I might stream it once or twice but given the choice between spending money and not listening, Id choose not listening. Someone else might have a totally different opinion, think its the greatest thing ever and cop the whole album on vinyl for $25 cause its worth it for them to have a nice physical version of it. To a music supervisor that wants it for their TV series or ad campaign, that same song might be worth 5 figures even though they could probably get a similar albeit worse track for way, way less than that from a music library.

            Likewise there are tracks out there I will happily spring for not because some abstract ideal of “music” has a certain value in my mind, but because those specific songs are worth that to me. Sometimes Ill even buy physical copies of my favorite albums or Ill go to Beatport and spend the extra 50c for a higher quality version of a nice dance tune to play in my DJ mixes. Given the number of funny looks Ive gotten for my music taste over the years Id say most people disagree with my valuation of the stuff Im purchasing, but thats never changed my mind about it

            That’s the point Quirk was making and you’re being obtuse about it as usual

    • Anonymous

      “The headline suggests”

      Mr. Quirk,

      Google is the world’s leading portal to organized copyright crime today.

      When are you going to fix it?

      • TuneHunter

        He has missed the boat.
        Google music pulverizer continues conversion of billions of dollars in music to millions in advertising without Mr. Quirk.

        • Anonymous

          I’m sure Mr. Quirk still has plenty of access to Google hq.

          If he plans to use that influence to fight Google’s piracy, he’ll be welcome here.

          Otherwise, he should stay away.

          • TuneHunter

            If he does, he can communicate prescription for $50B YouTube as a hub of $100B music industry!
            Google just needs to change it’s standing on total openness of internet to music.
            …and it should, to be fair to music and own greed!

    • steveh

      Tim Quirk you said “…we can drive up the current market rates for streams and downloads…” which to any intelligent English speaking person means the same as what Paul said ie. “(2) increasing valuation = raising the value or price”

      You seem to be trying the “how many fingers Winston” Big Brother trick on us. Very much in keeping with Google corporate culture.

      Sorry Tim Quirk, but we do not believe 2+2=5

      • Anonymous

        “Very much in keeping with Google corporate culture.”

        You can take a man out of Google — but you can’t take Google out of a man. :(

        In other Google news today:

        FBI: Google’s driverless cars could be lethal weapons
        SOURCE: BBC


        “Accused prostitute pleads not guilty in heroin death of Google executive
        […] “There was no intent to harm and injure, much less kill, Mr. Hayes,” Biggam said. “Why would she? He was a lucrative source of income for her.

        Biggam said his client [prostitute] and Hayes [Google executive] were engaged in “consensual drug use” at the time of his death […] Hayes and Tichelman allegedly met on the dating website, which calls itself “the leading network for Sugar Daddy and Sugar Baby relationships across the globe.”
        SOURCE: Reuters


        “Independent music labels sign fair deal streaming pact
        More than 750 independent music labels worldwide have formed a pact to seek fair treatment for artists signing deals with streaming services.

        The declaration by the Worldwide Independent Network (WIN) is a bid to protect musicians from poor returns for the digital distribution of their work.

        The move comes in the wake of “indefensible” terms set out by YouTube’s music streaming service. […] Bragg said the company, owned by Google, was “shooting themselves in the foot with their attempt to strong-arm independent labels into signing up to such low rates.”.”
        SOURCE: BBC

        • Anonymous

          Now we got the explanation of music industry tragedy – Intoxication on all fronts! I thought it was only UMG.

  2. john

    Hats off to you, this seeks to operate in a currently un-monetized space, exactly where people need to be looking for the future of industries. This also has lots of potential in the second and third world as well i think, an underserved market except by piracy. Hope it succeeds. Will definitely get my music projects involved as soon as possible.

    • Anonymous

      Hats off to you”

      Indeed, it takes a lot of guts for Mr. Quirk to come here and meet his victims.

  3. Anonymous

    Tim Quirk “If anything, the fact that ever more people are consuming ever more music ever more eagerly is a demonstration that people value music quite highly.”

    Hmm, funny how more people than ever are consuming music but artists are make less than ever. I guess I have to agree with your assessment that you can’t devalue music though…. I mean how do you devalue free music?

    • Anonymous

      “I mean how do you devalue free music?”

      Excellent question.

      Perhaps Mr. Quirk wants me to pay $.05 each time Google sends one of my fans to the Pirate Bay?

      Could make him a seriously fat Google fat cat.

  4. Anonymous

    I’m sure the Google guy will be as successful as the pirate bay dude who tried to launch a music service a few years ago.

  5. The real questions

    Hello Mr. Tim Quirk.

    What is your opinion about Pirate Bay?

    Looking forward to your answer here.

    • Anonymous

      The Pirate Bay is the best thing since sliced bread.

    • well?

      Still waiting for an answer from the man himself.

      Is he honest enough to say what he thinks about the Pirate Bay, in public?

      • Anonymous

        “Still waiting for an answer from the man himself.”

        You don’t think it was him? Why not?

        Google makes a lot of money from the Pirate Bay. That’s why they don’t block it like they block child porn and other illegal content.

  6. morons with billions

    The guy can’t even secure a company name with an available .com. Even an amateur blogger knows this!

    Go ahead, Google “Freeform Development”….

  7. Anonymous

    In the words of Tim himself,

    >>>”I’m pretty sure he’s younger than me, so fuck him. I mean that.”

  8. ex-Googler

    Here is another Google side project that the labels are not aware of. We set this up to test ad revenue from mp3 piracy blogs.

    wallywashis .name

    • Wallord Sprinles

      Your obsession is flattering and mildly disturbing. I’ve noticed your ill informed comments on this blog for some time.

      How about offering some real commissions for download affiliates instead? If monopolist media cartels could get their act together and make it reasonably profitable for webmasters to direct users towards legitimate channels, we would not be having this discussion. A good salesman can make the consumer pay 10-20 USD for an album or even a pet rock. You all sit here and complain about downloads while ignoring the obvious. We need 50% and better commissions. The consumer will pay for it once they hear the sales pitch.

      Instead of paying the affiliate or recognizing that the Internet is a game changer, copyright cartels prefer to pay lobbyists to attack our freedoms. Nature has a way of dealing with those who can not adapt.

  9. danwriter

    I dont think we’ll be seeing Tim back here anytime soon.

    • dude

      Yea he sure got owned by all that misdirected butt hurt and purposeful stupidity man high five am I rite

  10. John Matarazzo

    I’m an old guy. I remember going into a record store and buying singles for $1.00.
    The store sales clerk didn’t ask me if I thought it was worth a dollar; If not I could pay less.
    it cost $1.00. You want it or not? You have a dollar? No? comeback when you do.
    All this posturing, pretexting, game playing, hypothicating is all bull.

    • TuneHunter

      Agree, back to basics, there is no logic in 11 million users and $3B capitalization.
      At who’s expense? Musicians? And printed money retirement funds?
      First are screwed now the latter in the near future.

  11. Christian Bonner

    DMN is little better than Buzzfeed posting shallow, lurid pieces like this.

  12. Willis

    While execs, retailers and labels can put a price on music, there is only one person who can put a value on music – the listener.

    • Anonymous

      Indeed — and all evidence shows that the listener will pay whatever you charge for the music he loves.

      Provided, of course, that he can’t steal it without consequences.

    • JTVDigital

      Exactly. And guess what? Most people consider music is free / has no value, and are not ready to pay a cent for it, especially since they can acquire it from free/illegal sources.

  13. G.D.

    Sure, you can’t “devalue” music… because music has *intrinsic* value… but you sure can snag it for free when it’s easy to. Not to belabor the obvious, but turn off the spigot to the free stuff… and people will pay for it. Stop rolling out programs to “help” artists make up the revenue you’re stealing from them. Every new idea is just “sell t-shirts,” isn’t it.

  14. Justin

    “Indeed — and all evidence shows that the listener will pay whatever you charge for the music he loves.

    Provided, of course, that he can’t steal it without consequences.”

    Why would i pay anything for music?

    It’s free, legally, everywhere!

    Why would i even sign up to some streaming service for free?

    If the market or gatekeepers or whoever tries to institute laws and fines and raise the price of music, i as a lifelong music lover, will simply not bother with music anymore. I have a good collection already built up, i have my own body to play with, i for one don’t really need any more music especially if i have to pay for it, especially because hardly anyone pays for mine and especially because the cost of living keeps going up and up and up and up!

    It’s these type of arrogant bravado type statements from industry bafoons etc. that consistently strip any desire i have to be some listener for their self gratifying and self perpetuating party, a party i’m not invited to, and a party that they can afford to perpetuate on their own without me listening to anything they do or say!

    Only fools pay for music anymore…

    The future is likely to be, only fools publicly listen to free music anymore! If i can find ways around giving my data to that industry to utilize to their monetary benefit, i will.


  15. Industry Manager

    Google’s fastest growing source of revenue right now is music (i.e. Google Play All Access Music). However, google continues to ‘devalue’ music for creators, whilst driving up the value for its earnings reports.

    I have to say that DMN’s readers are perhaps the most educated I’ve ever seen on any site, however the general public is swayed by statement such as Mr. Quirks and being as he was formerly a google employee, the general public see’s those statements as credible and real. The fact is that you can and have been devaluing music if you are an employee of google working on youtube or are the head of ________(insert music title here) etc.

    I dont always agree with Paul,but I do side with him and DMN and stand by this article as written as I believe it to be a fair representation of the hypocrite Mr. Quirk is.

    To be quite frank, a bit of the actual industry has shown great disdain for Mr. Quirk, especially the songwriting community.

    Whether it be Google, Spotify, Pandora etc ….they all drive the “FREE” model whilst earning a pretty penny to line their own pockets. Mr. Quirk, has no credibility within music circles who actually value being compensated for IP (copyrights), no differently than google is compensated for its many products, trademarks and patents.

    Good luck with your new venture Mr. Quirk, I hope prospective buyers of your service in a few years dont ‘devalue’ your company simply because it’s ‘impossible’ to do so.

  16. Industry Manager

    I also second the idea that google pays content creators .05 each time google links them to pirated or illegal downloads of a creators IP.

    However, there would need to be a WW database built (containing all the information of rights owners) and the powers that be, dont actually want that database to function or be created for that matter.