I sit here at the computer some times considering what I could possibly write about that has to do with music. I don’t really assume that everyone is always up to speed on musical projects that are going on in my life, nor do you have all the time in the world to spend hacking through my Twitter account, my Facebook pages, my YouTube videos, or anything else.
I read a lot of interesting articles from places like Hypebot and MusicThinkTank about where the music industry is possibly headed, and after reading day in and day out about, I have come to two conclusions.
1. NO ONE knows where the music industry is headed, whether you’re a recording artist or not.
2. I don’t care about where it’s going.
Take for instance, this article from David Florida, posted to Hypebot about creating musical experiences. Here’s a little quote from his article:
“It’s pretty well-known that our economy—and society—is transforming from one where wealth and prosperity came from industrial products and material goods to a system where new ideas, human creativity, and experiences play a greater and greater role… Music was one of the first industries to experience the brutal effects of the digital transition, and it’s clear that the ability to make money has shifted—even for the most established acts—from selling albums, CDs, and even digital downloads to live performance and, well, designing experiences.”
As if that wasn’t the case already, right? Seriously, where does this guy get off talking about creating musical experiences? As if to say music isn’t already an experience, right? Is not the act of listening to a piece of music an experience? What about a live performance, whether streamed online or in a venue?
I’m not sure I buy this. Music has always been ‘an experience.’ Whether it’s listening to an album or attending a concert, or being moved by some other musical source, it’s always about the ‘experience.’ When was it ever NOT?
Some people want to argue in favor of something called the ‘patronage model.’ Websites like Kickstarter.com and artists like Amanda Palmer tout a business model where artists ask fans and others to become their patrons. Essentially asking money to fund projects or selling items that might or might not be related to the ‘musical experience.’
And my comments concerning the aforementioned artist and website aren’t directed so much at Ms. Palmer, as she is a fantastic musician and crazy street gypsy (I can’t fault her business acumen and musical ability), but with websites like Kickstarter and a ‘fan-funded’ business model, I think there’s only so far much you can ask from your fans before you have to start funding your own projects and creating opportunities for success that don’t require big handouts from them.
A recent post from HypeBot quotes Sub Pop Records as:
”To combat the problem, the venerable indie label is considering flipping the basic music sales proposition on its head. “Although Sub Pop is primarily known for its many fine artists and their really very fine recordings (also grunge), we’re not at all opposed to expanding into the fine world of t-shirts, hats, beer cozies, and key chains,” says Sub Pop general manager, Megan Jasper. “We used to give many of these tchotchke items away for free in an effort to entice people to pay for the music, but we’re considering flipping our strategy so that people pay for the toy and receive the music for free.”
So here you have a record label which makes records (aka MUSIC) selling merchandise and giving away music for free. Someone sound the alarm! It’s the end of music!
Then there are all these musicians giving away music for free or asking you to ‘pay what you feel.’ Yes, all this grew out of Radiohead’s little experiment, but if it’s stuck around, it’s working isn’t it? Don’t believe me, check out Mike Lombardo or Steve Lawson.
And the list goes on. There are a million opinions and a million people doing everything they can to make something of themselves in this business. What I’m saying is, not any one person or organization has any more of an answer now that this baby has been blown wide open. Remember, folks, we all belong to the same school of thought. That school should be the school of FORWARD.
So where’s the music industry going? Who knows?! But all I know is if you want to be a part of it, whether it’s as a recording artist, cover band guitar player, recording engineer, music teacher, or otherwise, just contribute. Be a part of this great thing called music.
I’ll see you on the other side.