Charlamagne is a radio DJ and the sentiment echoed below is not a new one.
At Family Records we’re always trying to think ahead of the curve of mainstream music consumption behavior and as we prepare for the future I think that the updated version of this statement will look like this:
If I like the single I will listen to it on Rdio/Spotify. If I like an artist I will stream the full album. If I am a fan I will buy the deluxe physical release and go see them in concert.
A deluxe physical release can be anything from a box with art prints and vinyl (like this), a gate-fold vinyl with digital download (like this), more non-traditional items like a gummy bear skull with USB drive, and for a little while longer a fancy CD package.
Soon enough mainstream adoption of streaming (mainstreaming?) will make it so that the current dominant way of consuming music, digital downloads and cd sales, will be replaced by a combination of streaming and deluxe products in 99% of cases. On the spectrum of music products, streaming and deluxe products are polar opposites of fan commitment to an artist. Currently we still have a big middle of casual fans that will purchase albums on CD and singles as digital downloads, but we will see the business reduced to these two aforementioned extremes. Facebook integration of the major streaming services is one huge step towards that future, and once car stereos will be able to have that same access on a standard level we will see another huge bump.
This change will further divide artists between those that are transaction-based and those that are relationship-based. The latter will sell many more deluxe items than the former, and they’ll be in a much better place to be profitable in the new mainstreaming era. In other words, Rihanna will be losing music income dollars to artists like Tegan and Sara, Paramore and DMB, so she’ll have to rely more and more on product placement and sponsorships as her direct music income will collapse. And Rihanna is just one example. People will end up spending less money on transaction-based artists, and the money they’ll save will be spent elsewhere.
At Family we focus on relationship-based artists and on capturing those newly available funds by providing superior products as part of a great relationship. Transaction-based artists will have other income streams to pursue, most likely ones that involve corporations buying into their cool or getting in front of their audience for exposure. One way is not morally superior to the other, it’s just important to realize what is about to happen to direct music income, to know what kind of artist you are, and how to adjust your business model to enable yourself to be a sustainable artist.
- Transactions Vs. Relationships (Or What Kind Of Artist Are You?) (READ).