So the latest Humble Indie Bundle is out… Wait, scratch that, it’s just the Humble THQ Bundle? I guess THQ is indie? It’s not? So why is THQ doing this? Why is Humble Bundle doing this? Why is this hurting my brain? Oh man… Let’s get into this.
There are two major questions: “Why is THQ doing this?” and “Why is Humble Bundle doing this?” I’ll go into the former first since it somewhat makes more sense than the latter and I’ll do it through a thought experiment.
I don’t even know what to make of this. This just reminds me of a mainstream singer (we’ll call him “THX”) trying to fit in with a small time album company called “Humble Indie Album” to make a quick buck because that’s where all the hip kids are hanging out. He’s still cool, right? Right? And it happens to be a charity event too.
But then you think, hm, why is he here? Why doesn’t THX just sell more of his album using his studio producers and marketing department? Basically, you think maybe he cannot make enough money to on his own that he needs to hang out with the indie crowd to make ends meet? Isn’t that the first thing that comes to mind?
Then you ask the question to the album company that serves the indie crowd normally, “Why are you selling his stuff?”
Aren’t you guys called the Humble Indie Album? Aren’t you humble? Aren’t you supposed to promote small time acts to give them more exposure to the world? Don’t you think they’re the underdog and that they deserve a platform to reach the mainstream? Are you doing it to simply bring more attention to the album company because people have heard of this mainstream guy? Isn’t that just a marketing move and going against your original beliefs? Also, it’s pay what you will and DRM-free.
So normally, you give away the albums online because you hope the band will just get enough exposure and brand awareness to get enough money without needing to charge a set amount of money for it. And you don’t have it tie to a specific brand of media player or anything, no DRM, you can download it and share it as much as you want, because you have faith in your fans. Freedom of choice! And you’re doing it for charity!
You believe people who like these small time bands, who don’t like DRM, who pay whatever they want, are also willing to give a portion of their donation to charity and that they do it out of the kindness of their hearts. They don’t want to pirate or steal from small companies, and they don’t want to forget about the children in hospitals or the people in need either. They believe in what this company stands for, the bands they promote, and they’re willing to trust Humble Indie Album to make a small donation to a charity in their name.
THX doesn’t like any of that, he wants to charge at least $1 for each album. And he wants it to only work on Windows, and it can only play on iTunes, so each person can’t share it or use it on multiple machines or anything. “Sure, give a portion to charity if you want, but do it on my terms, Humble Indie Album.” Wouldn’t you expect that the venue would say, “No way, we don’t work like that here. Go shove it!”
But no, they agreed to the terms, the guy sells his album and they’ve basically made a (small? large?) compromise in what they believe in. And for what? More publicity? More money? I don’t know and I really wish I did.
For some of you, this will all seem obvious and I hope it does, but I know there are at least some people for which this illustrates something.
Perhaps this is just the shock of the moment and maybe this won’t be so bad of a decision in the future, but it certainly has a weird smell to it and it has tainted my image of them.
Suddenly, the Humble Indie Album doesn’t seem so Humble anymore. And neither does the Humble Indie Bundle.
Update: Now the big elephant in the room is how THQ is doing. This past year, THQ has made several major business decisions in their struggle to keep afloat (leaving the kid’s games business, laid off hundreds of employees, shut down multiple studios, and installed a new president). It seems like THQ is desperate for a swing back, and it’s somewhat successful. Humble Bundle has generated almost $2.3 million and their stock has raised about 40% since the beginning of the Humble Bundle. I still don’t know if Humble Bundle is the place for making their last stand, but what do you think- should Humble Bundle let them try? Should the Humble Indie Album give a washed up THX a chance for a comeback?