While the battle rages on between those who have been in control and want to keep it that way*, and those who are best served by change^, I thought I’d take a step back and share five things I love about the emerging new music business. Things that, when you’re fighting for survival or control, are perhaps hard to recognize as major improvements in the big picture for everyone involved.
Five New Music Business Wins:
- Access, Convenience, And Archeological Discovery: I can pull up any classic album after reading an article about it, and add it to my Rdio queue, instantly. This puts me right on a path to potential fandom for the band involved. Contrast and compare this with the “read a magazine review – remember it – drive to a record store at some point – buy it based on the one song you know – hope you like all of it” paradigm. (Note the instagram I took of Bleecker Street Records last week, illustrating by accident the way the old experience is fading to darkness.)
- New Music Discovery: Similarly, every Tuesday I can pull up the new release page and add any number of new albums week’s new album I’m curious about. Many of which I probably wouldn’t have ever listened to in the old days. On deck today new releases by Usher, Tallest Man On Earth, Metric, Bobby Womack and Jukebox the Ghost.
- Release Freedom: Artists can put out as many and as few songs out whenever they please. We are freed from the release schedule dogma, and the promotion cycle dogma that states that a release needs at least 3 months to be seeded. It also allows for more variety in an artist’s output. If there are two great songs that work together, but wouldn’t be able to go on an album for aesthetic reasons, then they can be put out as a mini EP without requiring massive investments. The role of the editor/A&R will only get more key, so artist’s don’t put out things that shouldn’t be and keep the quality grade A.
- Simplified Accounting: We have the potential to completely simplify and streamline royalty payments to rights holders (songwriters, performers, labels), and move away from the insane quagmire that is music publishing and rights management, leading us to a place with more transparency, and better payments (albeit lower, due to the move to streaming, but hey, lets take the wins where we can get them.)
- Background Information: With the loss of the CD booklet, we gain the wormhole of Wikipedia, a google cache worth of interviews, and a live instagram/twitter/tumblr feed of the creation process as it happens. We are now more connected to information about artists and albums than ever before.
There are of course many more, and with every new challenge and change we can expect more benefits. It’s our job to identify those benefits, rather than to complain about the challenges, and to exploit them for the benefit of artists and fans alike.
* The major labels, publishers, radio stations, legacy artists, and other large operations that own rights to content or inefficient systems.
^ Everybody else including fans, emerging artists, managers, most independent labels, promoters, etc.