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What’s the best band website builder for musicians? Free Webinar.

Every musician today needs a great website. Each week someone asks me what platform is the best band website builder for musicians to create a killer website. There are many choices to be sure.

Bandzoogle has what appears to be the best balance of features and performance at an affordable price. Their monthly packages start at $8 per month and they do not charge any commission on sales of music or merch or tickets of any kind. As of the date of this post, Bandzoogle artists have generated over $21 million in sales of music, merch and tickets using its proven cloud based platform. Don’t you want to do that too?

best band website builder for musicians

Over 25,000 musicians have signed up for Bandzoogle, including many New Artist Model students. These guys have the best solution for presenting yourself online as a musician or band. And they have agreed to give you a 90 day free trial so you can check it out. This is a no brainer if you need a website or want to update the one you have.

Click here for a free webinar on building the ultimate musician website

Bandzoogle is easy to use with a step-by-step system that will get you up and running in minutes with a custom site that can grow along with you. With over 100 different mobile themes you can easily customize a site to really stand out.

Move your existing domain over or setup a new one.

Here’s what you get with your Bandzoogle website:

• Sell music, merch & tickets commission-free.
• Stream your music and setup downloads.
• Built in email list to send professional newsletters.
• Integrates with all online musician services.
• Reports and analytics to target your fans.
• Unbelievably great customer service.

Pull in content from all of your online services like Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Pledgemusic, CDBaby, Gig Salad, Bandsintown, ArtistData, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, iTunes, Amazon and more.

Add a store to your site in two clicks and start selling music, downloads, tickets and merchandise without having to pay any sales fee.

Create a blog and EPK. Post music, videos and photos. Setup your events calendar and a lot more. Everything you need is built-in and just a click away.

Try it for 3 months for free. After that, plans start at less than $10/month. Or you can simply walk away and pay nothing.

What’s the best band website builder for musicians to use to create a killer musician website? Check out Bandzoogle.

Just last week, Dave Cool of Bandzoogle and I did a webinar.

Build the Ultimate Musician Website

  • BUILD a high converting musician website.
  • LEARN exactly what features you need and why.
  • GROW your email list and expand your fanbase.

Click here to watch this recorded webinar – all free.

New Artist Model is an online music business school developed by Dave Kusek, founder of Berklee Online. The online school is a platform for learning practical strategies and techniques for making a living in music. Learn how to carve a unique path for your own career with strategies that are working for indie artists around the world. Learn to think like an entrepreneur, create your own plan and live the life in music you want to live. New Artist Model provides practical college-level music business training at a mere fraction of the cost of a college degree. Programs start at just $29/mo.

For more info on the New Artist Model visit http://newartistmodel.com

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Ring Your Cash Register Again and Again

As an independent artist, it’s frustrating to be stuck and broke. You find yourself wondering why others are successful and where all the money is hidden. Yeah I know, it’s really all about the music, but the reality is you need money to operate your business and invest in your future.

In my continuing Mini Series, I reveal tools and specific strategies you can implement to create multiple revenue streams and cash flow for your music. Discover two crowdfunding platforms you can use to support your art and ring your cash register again and again. 2015 can be your best year ever!

Let’s get to it.

studio guy

You will learn about Patreon and Pledge Music and how to use those platforms to increase your cash flow through fan funding.

Jump into the video as I show you the money.

Thanks for all of your comments and encouragement. I absolutely love hearing what you’re thinking, so please be sure to leave a comment or question below today’s video. Someone will be very happy that they did.

PLEASE – If you know anyone else who might benefit from watching this Mini Series on the music business, please share this post with them. 

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Creating Amazing Fan Experiences

I hope you are enjoying my new Mini Series on the music business. It’s truly amazing how in the first video you saw New Artist Model students Steel Blossoms and Colin Huntley applying my strategies to turn their passions into a career.

These musicians are just like you. They started with a small following and have grown their audience and income by investing in strategies and success one step at a time.

In this second video of the free Mini Series, I reveal ways of creating amazing fan experiences they will crave and actually PAY you for. Discover unforgettable connections you can offer to your fans RIGHT NOW to set yourself apart from the crowd.

Watch this video and get your fans to fall in love and remember you forever:

creating rewarding musical fan experiences

You will meet Shannon Curtis, a recent New Artist Model member who has perfected the art of the house concert and put $25,000 in her bank account in just two months time. See first hand how she did it and exactly how you can do it too.

To get one step closer to your dream, click here.

 

AND PLEASE – If you know anyone else who might benefit from this Mini Series on the music business, please share this post with them.

Trends in Mobile Music

Mobile is becoming increasingly important for musicians and music fans. Consumers seem to be using their smart phones and other portable devices like the tablets for just about everything, and music is no exception. Fans today can listen to their favorite music through streaming services like Pandora from anywhere and discover new bands and musicians on the go. In addition to listening and discovery, there are also a wide range of music apps that allow fans to keep track of their favorite bands. The market for mobile in music will no doubt continue to grow, providing fans and musicians with new opportunities to connect.

To get a better picture of some of these trends check out this infographic from Hypebot:

Mobile_Music_Infographic

 

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Beyond the Playlist with Viinyl 2.0

Why do most music players look like spreadsheets?

Discovering music on your own requires that you listen to a song for a period of time to see if you like it. Sure, if one of your friends tells you about a track you may “discover” it through them, but you will also spend some time listening to the song before you decide if it’s for you. This is the nature of the beast. Music is a time-based phenomenon.

Unlike with videos where you can “time compress” a video into a single frame image that you can easily visually scan, with music there is no alternative format that represents the song that can be easily scanned, except for the song name. This explains why most music interfaces display playlists, with song names as text not unlike in a spreadsheet, or list of song names. These can be easily scanned, but have no direct correlation to the sound or feeling of the song itself. I have always found it odd that in this era of digital music and highly designed interfaces, that most players default to a spreadsheet of song names to present music – true of iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, Rdio and many others.  Spreadsheet music players.

Sure you can have a thumbnail of the album cover, but rarely do you see this on a song-by-song basis. Maybe in parts of Beatport or other DJ sites that are focused on tracks, but not generally on the web for the mass consumers of songs. And yes we have also seen many different visual interfaces like Sonorflow that let you visually traverse music genres or the linkage between bands, but these do not convey information about the songs themselves or the emotions that they convey.

What if we had a way to make a song come alive visually? This was the whole idea behind the original MTV and it was wildly successful for decades. What is the online equivalent, or even better, what can we do to push the whole boundary of music discovery and showcasing to new levels by embracing the time-based nature of music and coupling it with visual expression and a modern interface that lets you experience and interact with music in new and interesting ways. And no, I’m not talking about the waveform displays on Soundcloud.

I am working with a new company called Viinyl which is in the final testing stage for a whole new video-based version of their Music Showcasing platform that is very hot. I haven’t seen anything like Viinyl 2.0 and I think it represents a whole new way of presenting music. Viinyl amplifies the emotional content of songs visually, in a way that is enjoyable and super easy to use. This is a whole new way of showcasing music.

Viinyl is re-defining the way music and videos are experienced. In fact their video player is a new way to attract attention, engage an audience with the emotion of a song, and make money on singles and tracks. From a simple URL you can run a full screen video with interactive overlays and gather email, sell tracks and tickets, connect to your social networks and literally showcase music thru video. You can sell any digital file including music and movies, and provide relavent information directly in the context of the song including bios, links, credits, contacts, concert dates, lyrics, etc.

Here are some examples of the new Viinyl 2.0 in action:

http://hiphopdraft-ghost-in-the-machine.new.viinyl.com/
http://synthetica-mini-documentary.new.viinyl.com/
http://destination-brazil.new.viinyl.com/
http://idareyoubeta.new.viinyl.com/

The new platform supports audio file sales with fixed or flexible album pricing (minimum price and Pay What You Want) along with various free distribution options. The software is lightning fast, with just a few clicks, musicians and labels will be able to share their work independently – and hold onto all revenue generated.

The new Viinyl 2.0 LP format delivers a visual playlist, giving listeners and fans a far richer, more immersive and inviting music experience compared with the current spreadsheet format.  This new software will be available in the coming weeks.

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The Future of Music for Urban Millenials

Here is a presentation developed for clothing manufacturer Carhartt as they try and capitalize on the popularity of their products with the youth market. Interesting trends and stats posted by students from Parsons The New School for Design.  “By identifying the forces at play in the world of music and the behaviors that are driving those forces, one can identify particular patterns that support current trends. By looking forward to what the future of music may encompass, this presentation aims to provide Carhartt, with valuable insight that will help the brand as a whole, cater to the future of urban millenials.”

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Modernizing the Merch Madness

For artists struggling to make a living in the digital age, a strong merch strategy can be the difference between living life as a starving artist and making a comfortable living.

Yet compared to the recording, publishing and ticketing businesses—which have felt the full effect of technology and the Internet— the merch business today is mostly stuck in the analog 70s. If we are looking to make money in the music industry of the future, why focus our energies on debating the intricacies of Spotify payments or whether licensing terms stifle innovation. Instead let’s examine an area ripe for disruption and revenue expansion.

A Highly Fragmented Environment

Indeed merch seems to be a highly fragmented business ripe for consolidation and transformation. To illustrate, let’s look at some research conducted by a company I work with— Merchluv. We looked at the August 2012 Big Champagne charts and came up with a list of  100 top artists and analyzed their merch availability:

– The 100 artists on the list used 44 different merch vendors (how’s THAT for fragmentation?).

– 75% of artists sold merchandise on their website, Facebook page or through an official supplier.  A surprising 25% of the top selling artists in August did not sell any merch AT ALL.

– 18 artists were “self” merchandisers, meaning they used Topspin, Paypal, Amazon, or a 3rd party services or ran their own commerce site/shopping cart.

– The remaining 57 artists were served by 26 different merch suppliers.

That means to sell merch for the top 100 artists in August you need to make nearly 44 deals with merch suppliers. Clearly a consolidation of merch vendors could help to rationalize the market. Where is the Amazon of music merchandising?

Merch is an Insulated Service

The merch business is largely disconnected from the real heat in the music market today, namely the explosion in digital music services. For example: 45 BILLION songs are streamed or viewed every month, yet there is NO MERCH being sold against this engagement. And that number is just going to BLOW UP to hundreds of billions of streams per month in the next few years.

Imagine if streaming services allowed fans to browse and buy an artist’s merchandise from the same page where they  are streaming their album or buying their tickets? There is a complete disconnect between where most music is discovered today, and the $2.2 billion in annual merch revenue.  The vast majority of merch is sold at the venerable merch table at any given concert. Why not make the effort to expand that experience into the digital realm? An alignment of merch distribution with the direction that the overall music market is headed would serve artists and merch companies extremely well, and potentially unlock a flood of new revenue.

Merch is Analog

Most artists sell 85% or more of their merch directly at live shows at the merch table. As effective as they are, merch tables can stand to be improved on in the digital age.  For example:

– Fans have to know where the merch booth is.

– Why stand in line when you can order from your seat?

– What if the merch guys don’t have your size or color preference at the table?

– When you buy merch at a show you have to hold it and take it home. Do you want it delivered instead?

– What if you want a bundle of something physical and something digital.  Is this easy to buy?

– How about something personalized for you, or something bigger than you can carry home?

There hasn’t been much innovation at the merch table at all, except for perhaps using Square readers to process credit cards. I wonder if the major merch vendors of today are going to be blindsided by technology and the changing habits of music consumers in much the same way that the record labels were hit.  Merch is extremely difficult to digitize.  But the sales of merch are not.

Tons of artists have web stores attached to their web sites and Facebook pages.  Companies like Reverbnation and Bandcamp can help independent artists manage their merch on their web stores and spread the merch offer out via social media to numerous outlets.  There are many businesses such as Bandmerch and Cinderblock, JSR and Bubbleup addressing this niche, providing fulfillment, webstores, warehousing and shipping services.

But the problem with this approach is that fans need to navigate to an artist’s web site and find the merch for sale and be ready to buy.  Today only 15% of merch is sold online.  New companies like Merchluv, which I am an investor in are about to blaze new trails in digital merchandising. The reason to do this? Grow overall revenue.

The large merchandising companies are very aware of the opportunities of snaring a hot band and bringing their merch to market effectively.  The holy grail of this is the long-term sales possible from mega-popular bands over time.  Anyone want to guess how many Dark Side of the Moon T-shirts have been sold?  Companies like Old Glory have been licensing artist merchandise for decades.

Now we can argue whether there will ever be another blockbuster band like Pink Floyd or the Rolling Stones or Metallica – but if there is going to be significant revenue in the music market of the future, merchandise is going to be a huge contributor.  Merchandise might possibly become the single largest revenue generator for artists of the future. You have to think big here and broader to see what I am talking about.

When artists today are being pulled in various directions to run their businesses, create, act, teach, write and express themselves and interact with their audience, what could be better for supporting a career than a good merch strategy?  Think about the merchandising empires built by Jimmy Buffett, Jay-Z, Puffy, 50 Cent, the Grateful Dead.  The merch is the tail wagging the dog and it has made these artists a fortune.

For musicians in the digital age, revenue needs to come from something than other the recording itself.  To some extent this has always been true, but never more so than today.

Creative Explosion

My friend Todd Siegel and partner in Merchluv tells me that these days creating innovative merch and finding things that resonate with your audience is easier than ever, and many clever artists are using fan sourcing and crowd sourcing options like Talent House and Creative Allies to design merch with their fans.  Once you have a design, you can use sites like Zazzle to test ideas for new products without investing in inventory up front.
Bands like Insane Clown Possee (ICP) have created a cult-like brand through the use of iconic imagery and building a strong following by involving their fans.  The Misfits have sold more merch than music because of that iconic skull that people buy because the merch itself is cool and fashonable.

And talk about branding, take a look at what Deadmau5 is doing with the goofy mouse head. This guy has merch everywhere and may just overtake Mickey Mouse in brand awareness across teenagers.  Even if you have never heard him perform, you know who he is.

Beats by Dr. Dre is another example of merch that has gone over the top and transcended the music entirely to become a lifestyle product that in some respects is becoming a big part of the music industry.  This in only a matter of a few years.

The brainchild of artist/producer Dr. Dre and Interscope Chairman Jimmy Iovine, Beats is bringing high-quality audio to fans through their headphones, sound systems, and now the recently acquired MOG digital music service. Dre has taken a brand established as a recording artist and is in the process of turning it into the music industry of the future, through a grand merchandising strategy.

Conclusion

In the face of declining recorded music sales, many of us are looking hard at the opportunities for generating money in music today. Most of the investment from VCs, Angel investors or Private Equity in music has been in streaming music, discovery, ticketing, crowd funding and artist services. Businesses like Pandora, Spotify, Beats, Ticketfly, Soundcloud, Songkick and Indiegogo all have received significant investments in recent years.

There are two ways that bands have always made money. One is by performing and the other is by selling merchandise. Both are tried and true methods, difficult to download or duplicate, and solid and reliable opportunities.

Why have hundreds of millions of dollars in venture capital been poured into online music services in the face of severely declining recorded revenue, when one of the most profitable parts of the music business—namely merch—been largely ignored by investors? Wouldn’t it make more sense try to increase sales of an already healthy and expanding market segment, ripe for disruption?

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Internet Trends – Re-Imagining Everything

I was reviewing this fascinating data from Mary Meeker over the weekend again, and thought I would share it. Meeker, a partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers describes what she calls “the re-imagination of nearly everything” powered by mobile and social. For example: News outlets are reimagined on Twitter, note-taking is reimagined on Evernote, scrapbooking is reimagined on Pinterest and music purchasing is reimagined as listening.

Meeker also traces out the story of the mismatch between mobile growth and mobile monetization, pulling together numbers and analysis of one of the biggest weaknesses in today’s Internet industry.

And she gives some context to the state of the global economy. Here’s the full slide presentation:

KPCB Internet Trends 2012

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Digital Music Stats

This video from James West and Len Henriksen shows that the consumption of music has come along way since the days of vinyl records. But now with all the digital variants of music available to anyone with an internet connection, what has become of the stability of the industry and the ability of artists’ to make money?

To sum it up, while digital consumption has absolutely exploded – the revenue per download, or spin, or play has collapsed. Data is from 2010.

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Investing in Media and Tech from Roger McNamee

Roger McNamee is probably the coolest investor I know.  He has called it right so many, many times and just did it again with Facebook.  You have to pay attention to him.  I have been “schooled” by him on more than one occassion and for that I am eternally grateful.

Here are his thoughts on the road ahead, taken from a Mashable keynote presentation he made the other day.  Great stuff if you want to try and make money in web and mobile tech in the years ahead.

 The shift is away from the desktop experience of free undifferentiated content. Mobile users don’t navigate the Internet with Google searches. They use apps, which deliver a better experience. And they spend much more time within those apps than on any web story.

Instead of needing tens of millions of lightly engaged users in order to be considered successful, McNamee hypothesizes that future success will come from smaller numbers of even more engaged — and thus more valuable — users.

It will, he believes, will be built not on the Google-controlled HTML4 web nor within Apple-controlled apps, but using HTML5, which allows for differentiated, engaged experiences without the downsides of the app store.

“The basic success factors going forward are going to be exactly opposite of those we’ve had in recent years,” he said.

You can get his entire presentation here.

Awesome stuff.  I’m definitely paying attention.

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Ridin’ with Hypebot

My buddy Bruce Houghton at Hypebot, caught me last week for a quick interview before Rethink Music.  Here is an except from our discussion:

HYPEBOT: Your new focus is on consulting and investing. Are there any sectors, particularly within music and music tech, that particularly interest you or where you see the most room for growth?

DAVE KUSEK: Online education is one of them. This is an area that is already transforming how people learn and gain job skills and it is only going to grow as time goes on. There are big opportunities here that will effect tens of millions of people around the world. Online training is going to be huge. Job requirements are shifting and people need to be able to adapt to changing circumstances that can benefit them. The traditional model of higher education is already under pressure and there are many people and companies exploring alternative models that are very interesting.

The other area I am bullish on is live music and live events. The live concert experience cannot be digitized, yet can benefit enormously from technology. There really has not been much innovation in live music or in music merchandising beyond ticketing. I think there is a lot more that can be done with mobile technology and am actively working in this area. My investment in Tastemate is one way of digging into this potential in a meaningful way. We will be bringing our service to a venue near you, very soon.

I also think that there is potential to expand the reach of live performance using remote technologies. I am interested in ways to cut the costs out of touring to make it more profitable and to reach broader audiences. It is amazing to me that there has not been more activity in this area either, so I am looking for companies and people to work with that are thinking differently about what live music is all about and how to make it even more lucrative.

HYPEBOT: What are some of the things that Digital Cowboys has done in the past or is looking to do now?

DAVE KUSEK: We are focused on business development, marketing and product development, particularly in online and mobile services. We also do strategy consulting for businesses wanting to expand or enter new markets or make acquisitions. I say we, because while I am the managing partner, I also leverage a network of people around the world and with different specialties that I bring together to form a team to address the issues. For example, with a lot of the product work that we have done I brought together a team of visual designers and user experience people to execute on the product vision and do the testing. With business development projects I sometimes work with friends that have particular contacts or relationships that are beneficial to my clients. Sometimes I put together a couple different investors or strategic partners to provide capital or distribution or some other need. The main thing is to get the work done and show results, while trying to have some fun and work on interesting projects that are pushing the envelope.

HYPEBOT: There’s some talk of another tech bubble. Do you see think we’re approaching one in music and media technology?

DAVE KUSEK: I do think that some of the deals we have seen recently are off the charts, like Instagram – but who knows? That has all the earmarks of “bubble” written all over it. But Facebook is also about to go public and at their level, what’s another billion dollars?

But really I don’t think overall that we are at the point of frivolousness and excess that we witnessed in the earlier dot-com bubble, at least not yet. I believe that people are just beginning to figure out better ways to communicate and interact and learn via technology. That is having massive implications on the future of society around the world. Take a look at the stock market trend over the past 100 years and you will see that things tend to move up and people get smarter and more prosperous. I am an optimist.

There are a lot of music startups getting funded these days and certainly they are not all going to make it. I think we will see some consolidation in the DIY space as there are probably more companies addressing that market than the market really needs. The same is true for music streaming and distribution and music discovery. I think the real breakthrough companies will be formed by trying to do something completely different, rather than mimicking the past with technology. We’ll see.

HYPEBOT: Any plans to write a follow-up to the “Future Of Music” book?

DAVE KUSEK: I plan to spend a lot more time posting things to my blog and on digitalcowboys.com. This is a much better way to continue to update original thinking and way more efficient than writing another book. The music industry has gone digital and online outlets like Hypebot really do work as conduits in this business. That is a real bright spot in the transformation of the music industry. So, look for more at futureofmusicbook.com.

You can get the entire interview here.

More coverage from Hypebot here and from Billboard here.

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Wiring up Live Music


Hypebot reports: Technology has changed a lot about how concerts are marketed, ticketed and produced since Woodstock.  Recently, the greatest driver of change – particularly from the fan perspective – has been the smartphone.  From taking photos to texting friends and song requests, smartphones are changing how concerts are  consumed and remembered.  But early glimpses of projects from Live Nation Labs and startups like  Tastemate show that we’re on at the start of a smartphone driven live music revolution. This infographic above chronicles the journey so far.
Lots more to come…

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India Provides a Glimpse into The Future

All markets are not the same.  Most people in India have not had access to high-speed Internet or a PC. The wired broadband penetration of India stands at about 13 million subscriptions and there are only 50 million PCs in the country. Very few Indians have broadband or a PC of their own.

3G expands consumer audience by 100 million listeners

Despite the lack of broadband and PC penetration, there are currently 121 million Internet users in India. Guess where they are? Mobile. With the rollout of 3G in India, access to high-speed Internet has become cheaper and more widely available. People don’t need to own a desktop computer to get online or, most importantly, to participate in e-commerce — all they need is a mobile phone.

The mobile model — and by extension, the mobile music model — scales. It took broadband 7 years to reach 11.5 million wired subscribers. In less than half that time, 3G subscriptions in India topped 13 million, and that number is rapidly growing. There are 884 million mobile users in India, and as smartphones flood the market, more of them will be making the switch, becoming not just first-time smartphone users, but first-time Internet users as well.

Already, 59 percent of mobile web users access the Internet via mobile only. A study by the Boston Consulting Group predicts that the total number of mobile Internet users will balloon to 237 million by 2015. It is connectivity, now more than ever.

Advertisers, rather than end users, are footing the bill.

Brands are embarking on the biggest consumer grab of the century as China’s and India’s multi-billion audiences rise in economic status. Thousands of brands are competing to become the future soda, life insurance and auto brands of this part of the planet. That’s a major influx of ad dollars looking for a scalable way to engage consumers.

Asking consumers to shell out 15 to 25 rupees for a song online was unrealistic when pirated options were widely available for free. But as legal sites gain popularity and engagement numbers soar, major brands are ready to spend their advertising dollars on digital music Web sites and apps, so music services like Saavn, Smashhits and Ragga provide large catalogs of ad-supported music for free.

The benefits are abundant for the brand advertisers, end users and record labels; the end user gets something customizable and valuable for free, while major brands can finally capture the attention of one of the world’s largest emerging markets.

So what made advertisers change their minds? Piracy.  Piracy is being addressed in India via the ISPs — in February, the High Court of Calcutta handed down the decision to ban the pirate site songs.pk on major ISPs. This is a move that many have hoped to see in other territories, and India is stepping up to address the issue directly via the ISPs.

While pirated music is still an issue in India, legitimate and fully legal music streaming Web sites and apps are restoring the faith of advertisers, meaning a huge new audience for advertisers, profits for the music labels from brands with deep pockets and top-notch quality for users.

Digital means data

Labels are excited that they can finally reach audiences who are passionate about their niche content, thanks to the kind of targeting that digital platforms make possible from user data. It’s especially great for indie labels, who now have fast entry to market and an opportunity to get in front of the right audience, despite not having the major-label marketing moolah.

Thanks to the wealth of data digital music supplies, the Indian music industry can get the right music to the right people at the right time. No need to make assumptions based on demographic information or guess what people will like. Data provides the ultimate customization tool for an industry in which customization and understanding the preferences and tastes of the end user is key.

This is the moment the music industry in India has been waiting for; it can finally focus on its core business — producing music — while advertisers happily foot the bill. And users get to sit back and enjoy, share and discover for free.

Read the original article as published on All Things D.

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Insight in music business & management

The music industry is being reinvented before our very eyes. Learn how it is developing from today’s entrepreneurs including Ian Rogers from TopSpin, Steve Schnur from EA, and Derek Sivers and how you can capitalize on the changing opportunities.

MPN is my latest project and an online service for music business people and music and artist managers creating the future of the industry. MPN provides online music business lessons, exclusive video interviews and advice, career and business planning tools and thousands of specially selected resources designed to help you achieve success in this ever changing industry. MPN gives you the tools, expertise and guidance to help you get organized and take your music career to the next level. Learn from industry experts, set your goals and realize your vision.


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Visualizing the Recording Business

Here is a great info-graphic from the New York Times showing the relative performance of various music formats over the past 37 years.  Unfortunately it does not show the impact of free music online.  That would be an interesting addition to see how big file sharing and torrent downloads really are, relative to the physical formats of the past and the new “paid” digital formats.

A Timeline of recorded music format performance

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Music Like Water – the future of music distribution

People should pay for their music the way they pay for gas or electricity.

I originally published this article in Forbes Magazine nearly 4 years ago.

“More people are consuming music today than ever before, yet very few of them are paying for it. The music recording industry blames file sharing for a downturn in CD sales and, with the publishing companies, has tried its best to litigate this behavior out of existence, rather than try to monetize the conduct of music fans. These efforts are fingers in a dike that is about to burst. Digital media are interactive, and people want music that they can burn to CDs, share and use as they wish. The music industry should instead look at turning this consumer phenomenon into a steady stream of cash–lots of it.

The industry ought to establish a “music utility” approach to the distribution and marketing of interactive digital music, modeled after the water, gas and electricity utility systems. It should be done voluntarily to work best for all parties, or it may eventually be legislated through a compulsory license provision.

Under a plan colleague Gerd Leonhard and I propose, con-sumers would pay a flat music licensing fee of $3 to $5 a month as part of a subscription to an Internet service provider, cellular network, digital cable service wireless carrier or other digital network provider. This fee would let people download and listen to as much music as they care to, from a vast library of files available across the networks.

These fees would result in a huge river of money. With approximately 200 million people connected to a digital network in the U.S., the potential annual revenue stream for a music utility model could be somewhere between $7 billion and $12 billion for the basic service. That is already comparable in size to the existing U.S. recorded music market, which in 2003 was $12 billion at retail, according to the Recording Industry Association of America. This basic service would be augmented with various opportunities, including packages of premium content, live concerts, new releases, artist channels, custom compilations and more. The revenue potential of these premium sources is enormous, too.

How would this money be divvied up? We propose that the industry voluntarily establish a “music utility license” for the interactive use of digital music. This license would compensate all rights holders, including the record labels and artists (for the master recording) as well as publishers and composers (for the underlying composition), with the license fee to be split in half between the owners of the sound recording and the owners of the composition, after deducting a percentage for the digital network providers. This license would be available to anyone willing to implement its terms. The digital network companies would be required to track and report which music had been used, by employing existing digital identification and tracking technologies.

There is already precedence for such a flat-fee system in cable television and in the utility-like models of public broadcasting in Europe. Streaming digital music is already provided in basic cable plans. Cable television itself at first resisted this model, but its economics eventually led to a larger market, providing more consumer choice and more revenue streams overall. Old media almost never die. Cable television did not replace broadcast television; instead, it expanded the market dramatically, by letting video flow like water into new revenue streams–instead of down the drain.

Certainly a music utility would be a radical and complex undertaking, and there are many important details to negotiate, such as the exact nature of the license, how the funds would be administered, the specific tracking method, what collection of technologies would be employed and others. Yet there are inventors and technologists outside the mainstream music business hard at work trying to figure out how to make this happen. It’s time for the main players in the music business today, namely the large record publishers, to cooperate with the inventors and jointly create a future for music where the money really flows and the global market for music can grow from $32 billion to as much as $100 billion.”

Read the original article from Forbes here, published in 2005.

Today this idea is closer to reality than you might think.  The major labels have seen their revenues cut nearly in half from their peak, and paid digital downloads and advertising models have not grown to contribute nearly the decline in CD sales.  The labels are in a very tough position and are looking at the utility model as perhaps their only remaining path to survival.  The pain has finally gotten too much to bear.

Choruss is a new company spearheaded by Jim Griffin, and incubated by Warner Music Group whose mission is to “build a sustainable music subscription platform providing unlimited access to music for a flat monthly fee”.  Choruss has been diligently acquiring the required licenses from all the “major labels”, independent labels including aggregators A2IM and Merlin and the National Music Publishers Association.  The company has been granted one-year licenses for up to seven universities to offer subscription services for unlimited, DRM-free downloads as a proof of concept.  This trial is set to begin in 2010.

Stay tuned for more info…

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The Marketing is the Message

Here is an interesting article/interview by Mark Small and Gerd Leonhard on the future of music marketing from the latest issue of Berklee Today.

“There is no recipe. We can’t go to Universal, Warner Music, EMI, and Sony and say, ‘Here is the solution so you can stay in business.’ says Gerd Leonhard. There is an ecosystem comprising content owners, telecoms, advertisers, marketers, artists, and social networks that have to build the solution together.” Leonhard advocates a blanket license and a flat rate that users would pay for unlimited access to, and unfettered use of, digital music. This method, he maintains, would be one of many revenue streams that could support a new middle class of musicians who are not superstars but who can make a comfortable living in the new music economy.

The day following the conference, I met with Leonhard, who shared more thoughts from his latest book, Music 2.0, a series of essays about the emergence of a new music business model driven by the Internet.* He spoke at length and optimistically about the opportunities he envisions for Web-savvy artists who produce their own music and bring it directly to fans.

Out of Control
For the past 14 years, Leonhard has called for a reevaluation of the prevailing logic in the music industry that exercising complete control over the distribution and use of the assets in record label catalogs is the principal way to make money in music. In the digital era, that model is tanking. Leonhard stresses that computers and handheld telecom devices are essentially copy machines that facilitate the sharing of music, text, photos, video, and more on the Web. In his online book The End of Control, he wrote, “Let’s face it, in our increasingly networked world, the vast majority of media content simply cannot be kept away from its audience. Today in our world of Googles, Facebooks, YouTubes, and iPhones, all content is just zeroes and ones, and trying to prevent its ‘leakage’ is simply futile.”

Everyone knows that the vast array of music is accessible for free via “pirate sites,” software applications that harvest streaming music, and via other sources. Users freely download songs, share files, post songs on their Facebook pages, sync them with their videos and slide shows, and more. For copyright owners-especially the major record labels-the genie is out of the bottle, and litigation against users sharing copyrighted music without payment has yielded little more than bad press. The problem of making enough money to continue producing music is most acute for content creators, whose primary business has been to develop superstars that sell millions of records.

Leonhard has long advocated a shift from tight control of products and copyrights. In what he refers to as the “link economy,” the new commodity is the public’s attention. In this climate, he predicts superstar status will be much harder to attain-and sustain-as the marketplace experiences further fragmentation and mainstream artists compete for attention with lesser-known artists in specific musical niches.

“Thirty years ago, 72 percent of the television audience used to watch Dallas or Gunsmoke,” Leonhard says. “Now 7.1 percent of Americans watch American Idol on a good night. That’s it. There is no ubiquitous TV show these days because there are so many options.”

It’s the same in the music industry. It’s much harder for current artists to sell the number of records their predecessors sold simply because there are more artists out there, more competition for people’s attention. A look at the RIAA’s [the Recording Industry Association of America’s] top-selling albums of all time underscores the point. Vintage artists-including the Eagles, Michael Jackson, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, and several others-dominate the chart. In the United States, the most recent album to sell more than 20 million copies is Garth Brooks’s Double Live album, and it was released in 1998.

Major labels and other repositories of valuable copyright properties may not be wild about the notion that products should take a backseat to audience attention, but they have noted the power of an energized fan base. Leonhard avers that musicians who fully utilize their Internet resources realize that they rather than their CDs are the product, and if they sell themselves properly, they will do well in the link economy.

“In the link economy, the product is the marketing,” says Leonhard. “If you want to promote yourself as a musician, you publish and make everything available on the Web so that people can pick it up and go elsewhere with it. If they like you, they do the marketing for you by telling others and sending links around. In the old days, if you were a star, MTV or the Letterman Show would recognize that by putting you on. Today, your fans recognize your value and send your links to friends, who send them to more people. This is what makes someone a celebrity on the Web. And you can’t buy that; you have to earn it.”

Today, the Web is flooded with content. Anyone with a computer can be a producer. Leonhard contends that this will ultimately raise the bar of artistic quality. “You have to be very good and very unique, and constantly innovate to get people’s attention,” he says. “There are 140 million blogs, and many new ones are created every second. We don’t pay any attention to a blog unless it is good. The same is true with music.”

Show Me the Money
So if musicians loosen control of their copyrights, what sources other than the proposed flat rate on Internet users for access to music could provide income? According to Leonhard, there is a $1 trillion worldwide advertising economy, and Google took in $27.1 billion of it last year. Projections are that in five years, Google’s share could rise to $200 billion. If licensing agreements can be forged with the powerful search engine, the fees could pay musicians for a lot of “free” content. “If Google was authorized to play on-demand music, someone could see my name and play my song,” says Leonhard. “Google would agree to pay a percentage of the revenue from every ad on the page with my song. The fee would be paid to a rights organization like ASCAP or BMI to be divided between all the artists whose music is played. Google can track everything that’s been played, so all artists could be compensated. The technology is in place to do this now. This system is currently being used in China and Denmark.”

It is important for agreements to be made sooner rather than later. When radio began broadcasting music during the 1920s, songwriters demanded a share of the money generated by programming featuring their compositions. ASCAP negotiated for compulsory licenses and radio began paying writers. But there was no provision at the time for a fee to compensate the recording artist if he wasn’t the songwriter. Even today, American radio stations, unlike European broadcasters, pay a fee to the composer or songwriter but not to the recording artist. Radio ad revenue currently yields about $20 billion annually, with the benefit of hindsight we can see that this was a missed opportunity. This situation should be kept in mind as new agreements are made. Half the world now uses cell phones, and a tremendous amount of music is downloaded to handheld devices. In a recent address at Berklee College of Music, Terry McBride, the CEO of Nettwerk Music Group, described the role smart phones already play in the sale of music.

“Musicians need to push for legislation to require issuing licenses for use of content on the Web,” says Leonhard. “Right now if you have a video that gets a million plays on YouTube, you don’t get a dime because there is no license or agreement. Through revenue share, every click, forward, download, [or] video play on the Web would get monetized.”

Fifty Ways
Too many musicians believe that playing gigs and selling CDs or digital copies of their music are the primary ways to make money. “We have to do away with that mentality, because there are 50 other ways a musician can get paid,” says Leonhard. “In the new music economy, you need to build an audience and energize them to act on your behalf and forward your music virally. Later, they can become paying customers. Don’t ask them for their money first. Once fans are sold on you, you’ll be able to ‘upsell’ them special shows, backstage passes, webcasts, a live concert download, a multimedia product, your iPhone application, a premium package for $75.

“When musicians start thinking of themselves as brands, like Nike, they will see that they have more assets than just the zeroes and ones that people can download. Other assets are their creativity, the way they express what they experience, their performance, and their presentation. As a musician and composer, you stand for something. The Web allows you to publish things that showcase who you are and what you do. In 10 minutes of clicking around on your site, people will be able to understand who you are if you’ve put enough out there.”

Even in a time when many have predicted doom and gloom in the music business, Leonhard is optimistic. “Current developments are good news for the artist-provided he or she is good. You have to be different, unique, and honest; have a powerful persona; and know your brand. If what you are doing is real and you are forthright, people will pay you. It’s all about the creator and the person who wants the music. Musicians of the future will do well if they can view themselves as more than someone who wants to be a star and sell a lot of records.”

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8 Key Trends for the Next 5 Years

More from Gerd Leonhard as he once again attempts to predict the future. While many people scoff at those who try and look ahead and light the paths for the rest of us, Gerd is actually quite good at it. Here is a glimpse into his mind and some trends he suggests for the rest of the decade.

1 — We will soon see the emergence of many different kinds of iPhone-influenced Netbook-like devices; some will be Apple-made but most will not. These devices may be 2-3 times the size of an iPhone and will connect to the Internet in every conceivable way, i.e. 3G/4G, LTE, Wimax, Wifi etc. They will be touchscreen, zoom-interface enabled, cloud-computing, speech-controlled, location-aware, mobile-money equipped, socially hyper-networked, always-everywhere-on, HD-camera equipped and possibly project images and audio or even support basic holography.

In addition to the high-end, fully-loaded and perhaps still rather expensive versions that many of us in the so-called developed countries will gobble up, low cost and more basic editions for the developing markets will be sold in the 100s of millions (think India, China, Indonesia…). These smart gadgets will have very low energy consumption and therefore extremely long battery life, may even sport basic solar-power options, and may ultimately cost less than 30 USD, or even be ‘free’ (why bother to sell the box if you can make a lot more $ with selling services…. Nokia?).

It is these mass-market yet very smart and networked devices, together with cheap or free wireless broadband that will really revolutionize reading, newspapers, books and education; not to mention our music, TV and film consumption habits. Content commerce will be completely redefined as a consequence. As BTO told us a loooong time ago: “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet”

2 — Very cheap or free wireless broadband – at fairly high speeds, i.e. at least 2MB / sec – will be available in most places, particularly in the booming new economies of Asia, India, Russia and South-America, and a bit later, in Africa. Funded by the likes of Google and by the future ‘telemedia’ conglomerates, governments, cities and states, wireless broadband will probably reach 3-4 out of 5 people on the globe within 5-8 years. User-generated & derived content (UGDC for those of you that must have an acronym ;), virtual co-production, mobile editing and instant network sharing will explode by a factor of 1000, making control of distribution a very distant concept of the past. UGC or UGDC may make up to 50% of the global content consumption by 2015. Consumers will be (co)-creators, marketers, sellers and buyers, and come in a hundred variations, from totally passive to totally active. Then, indeed, filtering, culling and curation will be the key to success.

3 — Collective blanket licenses that legalize and unlock legitimate access to basic content services via any digital network will emerge, and are likely to take over as the primary way of content consumption, around the world (but in Asia, first). Just like water or electricity which is readily available when moving into a new home, the basic access to content will be bundled into access to digital networks, i.e. via ISPs, operators, telecoms, portals etc. This shift is starting with music (as already done by TDC in Denmark, and Google in China), and will be quickly followed by films, TV, books and newspapers. Access may often – but in local variations – ‘feel like free’ to the user but will in fact generate 10s of Billions of $$ via blanket licensing fees (yes… those pools of money), next-generation advertising and branding, data-mining & sharing, up-selling, re-packaging and many other new generatives. This topic will, btw, be the gist of my RSA presentation tomorrow – if you can’t be there in person, you may want to listen to the live audio, via this link.

I think that governments around the world will call for and / or support the implementation of collective content licenses that wil finally legalize content usage on the Internet, similar to how governments pushed for the radio and broadcasting licenses approx. 100 years ago. Whether these blanket licenses will be voluntary or compulsory remains to be seen – in any case the only alternative is to perpetuate a severely dysfunctional telemedia ecosystem that criminalizes almost all users and stifles innovation while generating virtually zero new revenues for the creators.

4 — Fuel-cells and other next-generation mobile energy sources are a certainty. A serious increase in mobile device power (and therefore, its use) will be achieved by employing next-generation technologies such as fuel cells that could provide for up to 500x the usage time that we have today. This is likely to become a reality in 3-5 years and will revolutionize how we use – and how much we rely on – our mobile devices, especially in countries where there the fixed-line power infrastructure is much less developed or non-existent.

5 — Completely targeted and personalized advertising, delivered largely on totally customized mobile computing & communication devices, will turn the the $ 1 Trillion USD advertising and marketing services economy upside down. Behavioral targeting and user-controlled advertising will, of course, become an even hotter potato and a much discussed challenge, but the good old deal of ‘I give you attention & personal data and you give me value e.g. content’ will be even more pronounced on the Net. In fact, advertising as we knew it is already more or less outmoded and will, during the next 2-3 years, be completely reinvented. Privacy and Trust are the #1 issues here.

The implication is that if your data (within your specific sets of permissions and opt-ins) is used to bring you perfectly synchronized advertising, than advertising really becomes more like content, too. Watch this play out in the mobile advertising space, starting this year, and quite possible boost the global value of advertising-content by more than 100% by 2015. Google will be the main driver here, plus Facebook, Nokia and yes… Twitter (soon to be = Google).

6 — We will witness the more or less complete decline of most forms of physical media within 7-10 years. The very definition – and thus the core economic business models – of newspapers, magazines, CDs, DVDs and books will be completely re-written, and new forms of content packaging will rapidly emerge. We can already see a preview of how this may work in the current mobile applications boom: content as part of software packages; paying for the packaging, the curation, the bundling, the personalization – not just for the zeros and ones that are ‘the copy’. This trend is important not just because it will reflect the users’ (or better… followers’) new consumption habits but also because because of the increasing need to save energy and material costs – and moving from content products to content services will certainly go a long way in this regard. The total decline of printing in people’s homes, and for personal use, will commence, as well.

7 — Paying for privacy will become a distinct option. Today we pay to go online and connect; in the future we may end up paying for the luxury to go offline, disconnect, enjoy the quiet, and give our brain some rest. Maybe if we don’t want to share our click-trails and usage data, we will be able to make cash payments instead – and the more you pay, the more private you can be..?

8 — Travel 2.0: alternatives to ‘actually going there’ will explode: immersive, 3D video, virtual rooms, holography. This is a key development that will nurture new forms of entrepreneurship, education and group working.

Read more from Gerd Leonhard here.

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Welcome to the Future from New Music Box

Online journal, New Music Box just published a collections of essays on the future of music. Here are some excerpts:

Recording. Performance. Distribution. Copyright. Publishing. When the most basic terms of your field are in flux, it can be hard to see to next month, let alone into the next year, or to prepare for the next decade. Would you have expected music to be where it is today if you had been asked in 1999?

Amanda MacBlane writes, “In 1999, I was 19 and Napster had just launched. Computers, old midi devices, turntables and lots of samples were the building blocks of many of our dorm room compositions. I came early to the blogosphere and the social networks, and I jonesed for a giant iPod. I was a true believer in technology: new sounds, new ways of making music, new ways of hearing it, new ways of talking about it and new ways of getting it. I would proselytize anyone who would listen.

But as the technology became ubiquitous, my enthusiasm waned. Perhaps it was overkill or, as a proud non-conformist, it was painful to see my “originality” boiled down to some market research figures. Maybe it’s simply because I am getting fixed in my ways.

Don’t get me wrong. I do love the discovery aspect of the Internet. I love that technology has inspired so many people to make music and share it, even if I am not a huge fan of the mash-up. Most of all, I love the possibility of having access to every piece of music ever recorded or movie made from my apartment without having to have shelves specially built.

But I also think Twitter is stupid, that the Long Tail is bunk, and that Pandora has no idea about my musical taste (once it actually told me it had no more suggestions for me). As I spend more time in conference rooms, I am always disheartened by the buzz phrases: Brave New World, access vs. units, monetization and the worst one of all—content. Art is taboo in these places.

Yet having spent time with people on all sides of the situation, I have gained insight into where musical life is headed and had a chance to meditate on my own musical values. Here are just a few of the thoughts that have been floating around in my head:

1/ Music will always make money, but not always for the same people. Whether it’s the record companies or the Internet giants, we just need to make sure that the composer and the musician don’t get cut out of the deal. Of course touring and merchandise will help, but other companies whose business models are founded on music—selling it, streaming it, sharing it, storing it, copying it—need to share their profits with those that create it.

2/ We desperately need flexible, worldwide licenses for music. The Internet has no borders, so why do our licenses? Because as soon as anything becomes worldwide, it becomes as wonky as the UN. Rights holder organizations have been working to achieve this, but a 2004 decision by the European Commission’s Competition Directorate halted a first initiative for worldwide, blanket licenses for the entire world’s musical repertoire. Another anti-competition decision (2008) against European societies spurred by powerful broadcasters looking for cheaper royalties has forbid societies from working together. It’s hard to create a worldwide license for the world repertoire on a national basis. Until the EU is on board, this won’t be possible.

3/ Let’s not leave promotion or guidance to algorithms. Having access to every piece of music ever recorded is great but also very overwhelming. For musicians, how do you get noticed? As a listener without hours of free time, how do you find your next favorite piece? I don’t think a computer algorithm can ever replace the human promoter or guide. We need to facilitate journalism, web radio, podcasts and well-constructed multimedia blogs as well as any new ways of talking about music. This goes back to the licensing issue in part—some of these outlets won’t make much money at all and there need to be licenses available that do not make it impossible for them to operate.

4/ Technology can never replace the physical and social act of making music.
Even in my technology-loving heyday, my professor of Electronic Music, David Borden, insisted that our final piece include a live performance element. Listening to music is great and composing for the computer can certainly be exciting, but the music that means the most to me is that which I have physically performed and shared with others. No computer or killer app can match performing Bach’s B-minor Mass in Caracas with some of my best friends or playing 4-handed piano duets with my mom.

5/ Music education in our schools cannot be abandoned. We can’t democratize production and distribution while limiting access to musical training. Not only will music education help lots of talented kids move past the mash-up, it also helps people appreciate the value of music and the work it takes to do it well. Whatever happens, one thing is for sure: People will always make music and that is very comforting to me.

Read more from New Music Box. Welcome to the Future.

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Dave Kusek on music format shifts

By Gillian Shaw, Vancouver Sun

“Music CD sales have dropped by half from their peak a decade ago, but unlike the decline of vinyl records and 8-track tapes, the current shift is bringing with it a wholesale transformation in the delivery and distribution of music.

The format change started with MP3 files, but digital music also brings multiple distribution channels — from the free sharing of music, to iTunes and other paid download services, to more futuristic channels that could see us making micro-payments to call up songs on the refrigerator while we cook dinner.

The recording industry, which failed to adapt in the early days and instead sought to hold back the change, is now paying the price. But for artists and consumers, the shift is opening up opportunities in accessibility, and lowering barriers to entry for a music career.

“CDs are being replaced by MP3 files, and the only problem is the record labels never figured out a way to charge for MP3 files until it was too late,” says Dave Kusek.

Kusek is vice-president at Berklee College of Music, a co-developer of the Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI); co-inventor of the first electronic drums at Synare; founder of Passport Designs, the first music software company; and co-author of the book The Future of Music: Manifesto for the Digital Music Revolution.

“It is a format change, and the record industry had its chance when Napster first came out. They had the chance to license Napster for all their music,” he said. “If they had done that, I believe the recorded music industry would be in a much more healthy state than it is today, or ever will be again.”

Instead, the recording industry decided to sue Napster. And while it may have won that battle, it turned out to be just one skirmish in a war that would see the free exchange of music only increase.

In the U.S., the industry took consumers who were sharing music files to court, but it has since abandoned that tactic.

Most recently in B.C., a Vancouver company is taking on the recording industry in a B.C. Supreme Court case, asking the court to confirm that it is not infringing copyright with websites that allow users to search BitTorrent files on the Internet to find movies, music and other content.

Apple cashed in on the digital music craze with its iPods, picking up much of the revenue that CDs would have generated. But paid services such as Apple’s iTunes, Amazon and others still account for only a small portion of the music people listen to on their computers and other devices.

“If you look at the several billion tracks that have been sold on iTunes, that is a couple of months worth of file-sharing traffic in MP3 files,” said Kusek, who runs a consulting business, Digital Cowboys that has clients such as Nokia, Pepsi, BMG, EMI and others. Kusek also blogs at futureofmusicbook.com.

“The entire history of iTunes is [equivalent to] a couple of months of downloaded shared music,” he said.

Kusek sees a future in a type of blanket licence approach, similar to cable television’s.

“I think if it is going to happen, it is going to happen in the mobile space rather than in the computer space, although those two will merge,” he said. “The idea of selling a recording for a dollar-plus per song or $15 to $20 per disk has probably gone, or will be gone in the not-too-distant future.”

While hundreds of millions of CDs are still being purchased, sales are in steep decline. Sales of digital music in the United States grew almost 30 per cent last year, but sales of CDs dropped, with the forecast for 2009 putting them at half the level of their peak during the CD boom in the late 1990s.

According to a report by Forrester Research, U.S. digital music sales — downloads and subscriptions — will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 17 per cent over the next five years, putting digital music on track to make up 41 per cent of the music market in 2013.

The growth in these purhcases won’t compensate for the decline in CD sales, leaving the overall music market shrinking by a compound annual growth rate of 0.8 per cent, to $9.8 billion US in 2013.

“I think it will become more of a utility, a service that you subscribe to that is bundled into your bill, and you get your music that way,” Kusek said.

While CDs can be played in a variety of devices, from a car to a living room stereo to a boom box on the beach, there are far more variations for digital music.

“I have a pair of sunglasses I can play music in,” Kusek points out with a laugh.”

Read more from Vancouver Sun article.

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Terry McBride at Berklee

Terry McBride gave a lecture at Berklee College of Music earlier this month. Here is a synopsis from Ariel Publicity.

A song is an emotion

They stopped releasing music they thought would sell and began releasing music they loved and felt emotionally connected to. The old school music business views a song as a copyright. McBride coaches that the music business is simply “the monetization of emotions” and that copyright as we know it will soon become irrelevant. Emotions move and are transferred freely. Nettwerk practices something called “collapsed copyright”. Nettwerk encourages its artists to record under their own label. Nettwerk will represent these artists, but the bands retain ownership of all intellectual property. The bands can expect to earn considerably more money and in turn can give away more free downloads. McBride calls this “cosmic karma” as studies show that albums containing songs that were offered free sell more than those with no free downloads. The free downloads allow fans to connect with a song as well as the artist as an emotional brand and are more likely to purchase the album.

Fans connect to a particular song because it evokes a certain emotion. That emotion grows an importance and eventually becomes a bookmark in their lives. We’ve all experienced a time when we heard a song from our past that we once played over and over and over again. We built an emotional connection with that song that instantly takes us back to the summer before junior year, or whenever. It’s that emotional connection that makes you feel the need to rave to a friend about a song or drag them to a concert. The emotional connection makes Nettwerk truly believe in their artists as an emotional brand and that millions of others will love their music as much as they do. Like it or not, love is contagious.

Music is social

Gatherings used to be centered around food and music but for a while music became somewhat elitist. You had to be some musical genius that was too cool and cared about nothing but the music or a wealthy socialite who could afford all the luxuries. Video games like Guitar Hero and the growing affordability of recoding programs and equipment have made music for everyone again. Remember that friend you dragged with you to a concert to show them how amazing that band was? As it turns out they loved them too and raved to their 20 friends who raved to their 20 friends and so on. Well now with the evolution of social media thanks to sites like Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, etc., the circle of friends has grown to 200 plus and by the end of the day with just the ease of a status update thousands of people have been reached.

Digital 2.0

As music returns to its emotional and social roots, McBride predicts a rapid change as we move from what he calls the “Digital 1.0” era into the “Digital 2.0” era where the accessibility of music and social media has grown legs and is now traveling with us on the train and down the street in the form of smartphones such as the iPhone. But the iPhone is just a dieter’s slice of the pie. Different models of RIM Blackberry smartphones ranked #1, #3 and #5 in best selling phones in North America. Plus the Palm Pre and the anticipation of Dell launching a new smartphone means that mobile social networking in America will soon catch up to the estimated 12.1 million users in Western Europe.

In this “Digital 2.0” era McBride points to the success of Apple “Apps” store, which has over 15,000 original applications and over 500 million downloads.

“Apple has allowed us, [the consumers] to be the world’s largest developer and create apps based on our needs,” McBride explains, “And the explosion of imaginative apps like Shazham and Slacker has just started.”

McBride throws the idea out of a digital maid application that would clean and organize your digital library, saving you the time of having to dig through files. He also requests a digital valet that drives new music to you based on your preferences or a friend’s library and parks it in a suggested music garage. He anticipates that in the next 18 months there will be “apps to help create apps for those of us who are not programmers but have a great idea.” RIM plans to open up their app store this March to reach 150 countries and over 450 providers. Add the Google Android store, Google “Hero”, Microsoft “Skymarket” and Nokia “Opera” and you’ve got yourself a full-blown application revolution.

Context is King

McBride points us in a new direction from what was previously a “content is king” mindset to “context is king”. Meaning that our emotional connection to music is all based on the value of how we perceive something versus the actual content. The smartphone replacing the PC (or Mac if you will) is a foreseeable prophesy of McBride’s and could possibly leading to the demise of even, yes… your precious mp3 player. He explains how new apps will shift behavioral patterns of consumers in the same way CDs and online media ushered in the on-demand generation. Smartphones have already begun creating models that temporarily store the music files in the “cache” instead of the hard drive. McBride describes this process as “a gradual download, it’s not permanent because your Valet/Maid app is changing the selection based on your needs, thus helping solve issues such as memory, choppy streaming and draining of batteries.”

This means that the music business must create rich meta data behind our music files to work with apps in order to keep up with this new form of consumption. McBride highlights the opportunity to raise the value of music then, he says, “Context will be king.”

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Gerd Leonhard Interview at Rollo & Grady

Gerd Leonhard

My co-author and friend Gerd Leonhard was recently interviewed by Carter Smith of Rollo & Grady. Here is the interview:

R&G: How did you become interested in writing about the future of music?

Gerd: I was involved in various online ventures during the Internet years, in the late 90s. I was trying to reinvent the music industry, so from 1998 through 2001 I ran a company called licensemusic.com. It was a real dotcom venture. Because of the work I had done, I saw what was going on. While I was recuperating from the dotcom craziness, I figured that since I had looked at it so deeply that I might as well write about it. I wrote “The Future of Music” from 2003 to 2004, and it was published in 2005. Ever since then I’ve written and blogged about the future of music, the media business and the content business in general.

R&G: In the book, you focus on the concept of music being like water. Can you describe that?

Gerd: I had a co-writer, Dave Kusek, who you might know. He teaches at Berklee College in Boston. The concept of Music Like Water wasn’t entirely ours. David Bowie once said in an interview with The New York Times that music would become like water, flowing freely. That stuck with us and we built this whole theme around it, saying that digital music needs to be as available as water. In other words, there has to be a licensed pipeline, just like licensed connections for water or electricity. Everybody pays for electricity and water, but nobody feels it’s a big effort to do so. Of course, people are up-sold with Evian, Pellegrino, or filling the swimming pool. It is very much the same logic. You have a license to use. You’re all in. Then you do an up-sell towards other variations. The principle fits pretty well with the idea of content distribution on digital networks. It’s a blanket deal – a big deal rather than a unit sale.

R&G: Is that similar to the labels backing Choruss? [Note: Choruss is a proposed plan that would build a small music-royalty fee into university tuition payments, allowing students to legally access and share music.]

Gerd: Yes, totally. A friend of mine, Jim Griffin, is doing that. Jim and I have talked about this for the last ten years, pretty much since Napster came to light. It’s a very similar idea, even though they’re thinking of this as more of a “covenant not to sue.” I don’t think that is taking it far enough. One has to be realistic. I think that the major labels are reluctant to give up control of the ecosystem in a flat out strike, so they will probably take a bit longer to get used to this.

R&G: If I understand this correctly, it’s a university tuition tax?

Gerd: It’s not so much a tax as a way for universities to say, “Whatever people do here, we can legalize it.” It’s fighting against the criminalization of sharing, which is great. And for the students it’s not a tangible expense. It’s wrapped into their tuition. It’s like 911 calling on your phone bill; nobody is going to complain about it. Then, I think a completely new ecosystem could pop up that would essentially be part of the way to access and up-sell to people. I would be against any such tax, levy, or any of those things, but if it can be made to feel like it’s free, which is what it is, I think that is an ideal solution that gets the ball rolling.

R&G: Once a digital network customer pays a fee, how are funds distributed to the artists?

Gerd: It’s very much like traditional radio. Every action on a digital network is monitored. Whether it should be is a different question, and, of course, there are privacy issues. But whatever action people are doing on the network, it’s captured in some anonymous way and then the revenues are paid pro rata. When you click on a song and share or download it, whatever network you’re on can say, “Okay, this was downloaded. This was streamed.” Artists are paid out strictly by popularity. So if your band is busy doing lots of gigs, you’re very popular and you get 100,000 people following you on Twitter, they will click on the song, download it, and you get more money. It’s just like radio.

R&G: Can the labels regain the trust of “people formerly known as consumers?”

Gerd: They may not be able to, and this is the Number One problem. I think it’s a very tough road. The only chance they have – and that goes for everyone, not just the majors, but also the indies – is to drastically open up, put their cards on the table and start doing business like everybody else. This means being transparent, sharing, putting deals on the table and making them public. They need to create real value rather than pretend to do so.

R&G: You’ve previously mentioned that music blogs are the new record labels.

Gerd: Yes. Music blogs have enormous power because people trust the blogs not to pitch them stuff that they’ve been paid to pitch. If they can keep it up, they will be the next BBC. When you look at mechanisms like Twitter or Facebook or FriendFeed, these people become the default recommenders for us. They are the ones who say, “You should pay attention to this band, to this artist.” That’s what radio used to do.

R&G: Serving as filters.

Gerd: Yeah. You have to keep in mind that the biggest problem we are having is not that music isn’t available, because even though it’s not legal it is available. The biggest problem is that once the legal issues are solved, everything will become available. Our problem will be that we have to pick, and nobody has time to pick through 62 million songs. That’s the total universe of currently published music, and it’s going to increase. We don’t really need to solve the distribution problem. We have to solve the attention problem. That’s what Amazon does for books.

R&G: You’ve talked about how the record industry should adopt Twitter. Can you elaborate?

Gerd: Twitter is a mechanism of micro communication, like RSS feeds. Therefore, it becomes something that is completely owned by the people who are doing it, rather than by the people who are making or receiving it. It’s a completely viable mechanism that is cost-neutral, at least to us. It becomes a very powerful mechanism for peer response and viral connections. That is the principle of what music is all about. It’s word of mouth, connecting, forwarding and sharing. A musical version of Twitter would be a goldmine. It already exists to some degree in blip.fm, but the music industry should use that mechanism to broadcast directly to fans. They’re starting to do that, but the problem is that many music companies perceive their primary mission as gatekeeper for the artists rather than getting the music out. That is a big problem today, when you’re in an economy where everybody wants a snack before buying a sandwich.

R&G: What other technologies do you think are necessary for the do-it-yourself artists and managers of the new music world?

Gerd: Widgets and syndication have made YouTube the world’s leader in video. 60% of videos are not played on YouTube.com but on blogs and other people’s sites. Music has completely overlooked that very powerful tool. That is this whole idea of syndication – getting people to transmit music to each other and then reaping the attention on the other end.

R&G: Many of the kids who grew up with Napster are now in college. They’ve never owned a physical CD and only know how to click and download music. They think music is supposed to be free.

Gerd: Yeah, and it can be free in the sense that it’s not as painful as paying per action. The question is not so much about the payment or the fact that people may not be willing to pay right away. It’s about controlling the marketplace. Who gets to listen to what, where, when and how much money do I get? We have to get back on the same page we were on a hundred years ago. We’re all on the same boat. Everyone wants an audience. Until we have that, we have nothing.

R&G: When do you foresee the end of the CD?

Gerd: I think we have another 18 months maximum for CDs to become a Step Two rather than a Step One. They have a 25% decline for 2008 pretty much around the world. How much steeper can they drop? In 18 months, the CD isn’t going to be the cherished moneymaker anymore. And this year people in the music business are going to be forced to say, “Okay, what is the next model? Do we have to loosen up to actually participate in this, or are we standing in our own way?”

R&G: Are you saying they need to recognize any revenue stream they can generate from their content? Sell CDs, subscriptions, etc.?

Gerd: The flat rate is the next CD. Its simple mathematics. If you charge or indirectly earn one dollar from each user of a network, that dollar can be ad-supported. It can be supported by bundling, so the user won’t feel it, so to speak. If you look at the total number of people who are active on digital networks, which is somewhere in the neighborhood of 3 ½ billion people, they’re not all going to pay a dollar because they’re in different countries. But the money that comes in from such a flat rate is humongous.

R&G: You are currently working on a new book, “End of Control.” When is it coming out?

Gerd: I’m working on it right now, and it’s kind of a painful process because it’s always changing. The first couple of chapters have already been published at endofcontrol.com, and people can download those. It’s a free book, so I’m working on various ways to make that more powerful. The control issue is key. It used to mean that if you had more control you would make more money, especially in the music business. You control distribution, radio stations, marketing, everything. Now all that is completely falling apart. Artists are going direct. Radio becomes useless to some degree. It’s all on the web now. People are doing their own thing. Control is a thing of the past. The question is, “What is the next business model?” That’s what I’m working on.

R&G: Who are the current music business visionaries?

Gerd: This is one of the most unfortunate things. There aren’t very many. I always say we need an Obama of the music business, or at least a Steve Jobs, even though Steve is kind of egomaniacal, but brilliant. I see a couple of people, like Terry McBride from Network Records in Canada. I firmly believe, however, that the biggest innovation will come from people who are not in the music business.

R&G: Is this the year we will see considerable change within the music industry?

Gerd: I thought it was going to be 2008, so I’m quite disappointed. I think we’ll see new things emerge in 2009 that will be completely disruptive, like the iPhone and mobile applications of music, new kinds of broadcasting, people sharing stuff through mobile networks and high-speed, broadband, wireless Internet. I think 2009 will be a key year because the current economic crisis will make it worse. People will stop buying content the old-fashioned way.

Read more great interviews here at Rollo & Grady

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Dave Kusek Interview at Rollo & Grady

Future of Music Book

I was recently interviewed by Carter Smith of Rollo & Grady on The Future of Music.

R&G: What was the reason behind writing “The Future of Music?”

Dave: Gerd [Leonhard; co-author] and I became friends at Berklee. He did a few projects with the music business department, which is how we got to know each other. We started talking and found that we had a lot of common ideas about what was happening in the music business. I ran Berklee Press, so I had a way to publish the book. We just started putting ideas down on paper. There wasn’t as much blog action then as there is today. It was probably 2002 or 2003 when we really started to write the book, so we figured, ‘Okay, we’ll publish it in book form.’ Our motivation was, ‘How can we help people understand what we think is going to happen?’ Both Gerd and I had done lots of panels and music shows – South by Southwest, all the digital music ones, Billboard and many gigs like that. We thought, ‘How can we pick some of these ideas and package them in a form that would be digestible and widely available to people at a reasonable price point?’ That was the genesis of it all. Honestly, it all happened so quickly that I kind of wish we could do it all over again. It was fun. It was a very condensed period of time. There were a lot of things that obviously were changing and happening, and there were a lot of things that weren’t so obvious. For example, I don’t think there was an iPod when we first wrote the book. That happened during the publishing and editing process. There was no iTunes music store, no MP3 blogs to speak of and no Amazon.com selling downloads. eMusic might have been there. It was all so early. Everything was happening so rapidly. We just tried to gather up as much as we could that was obvious and make some stabs as to what might happen.

R&G: Can you discuss the process of writing the book?

Dave: I learned a lot from Gerd during the process. I was more on the ground with the musicians. My whole career has been helping musicians and artists create their art, take their art to market and most recently teaching them about it. Gerd was more in the consulting end of things, talking to the likes of Nokia, Apple and Sony. I learned a lot about what was going on in the corporate world that I hadn’t been exposed to. I think we pushed each other because I would often argue that, ‘Man, we’ve got to talk to the artists and writers and managers, not to your consulting clients, because most of these people aren’t going to understand what the hell you’re talking about.’

R&G: “Music Like Water” the David Bowie quote meaning music becoming a utility. Do you still believe in that?

Dave: I think it’s inevitable. Music has always been free. It started off as a live performance. You’d go to a party, to a friend’s house, to a show, to the theatre or an event and music would be there. You’d be dancing and laughing and happy and singing. There was no idea of a business other than maybe the performers wanting to get paid. Throughout the technological phase of the last seventy or eighty years, there was always a free form of music, such as radio. The single most influential technological phenomenon in music was radio. It brought music to everybody, and it was free. Now we have gone through this pre-packaged, packaged phase of music, with vinyl, cassettes and CDs. That was a way for labels to control distribution and squeeze profits out of people wanting copies of the stuff they heard on radio. But once that leapt into the Internet, music became free again.

R&G: By free, do you mean file-sharing and uploading CDs onto your computer hard drives?

Dave: Both. People have been trading files for years. It started out on Usenet, which predated Napster. You remember Apple’s “Rip, Mix, Burn” campaign? It was really all about enabling the digitalization of music and unlocking it from the plastic that it was bound to. I don’t see it as a big deal that music is free again and in a higher quality format that is randomly accessible to the file-sharing networks or the services that we have now, some of which are “legitimate” and some aren’t. It’s not a very big deal to me. It just seems normal. The utility idea already exists on your TV. I have Comcast service here on the East Coast. We have Music Choice, which is essentially digital radio on your TV. There are 30 or 50 channels of music that are programmed and streamed to my house constantly that I pay for on my cable bill every month. I’ve been doing that for fifteen years. I have no choice about it. I just do it. It comes with HBO and the basic cable service. So there already is a music utility that millions of consumers in the U.S. have paid for many years. Why can’t that service just get a little bit better? If you add a random access mechanism where I can select what I listen to at a finer level than just picking the channel that Music Choice gives me, the service becomes better. I think it’s inevitable. I don’t understand what all the teeth gnashing is about. That’s a personal opinion.

R&G: What role will labels play in the future business models?

Dave: The major labels are going to be able to sign new artists, so they will have influence. But I think the indie labels and the no-labels that artists are forming – their personal labels – are going to be just as influential. If you get a super-hot band that decides they’re going to help pioneer a new format or a new distribution vehicle, and people love the band, they’re going to pick that up. They’re going to inherit that into their life. If enough new bands do that and connect with their fans, that will matter way more than what the four big record labels do. Eventually, they’re going to come around and say, ‘Oh man, we’ve got to get on this bandwagon,’ as opposed to doing it deliberately. You can see in the last four or five years, and particularly in the last two years, that labels are willing to abandon DRM, experiment and take a little bit more of a risk in how their music is put out there, which they absolutely, categorically refused to do four or five years ago. The rest of the music world is pulling them along. The fans and the new music are pulling the bigger labels into the future, as opposed to the big labels setting the pace. I think those days are over.

R&G: The majority of people I talk to feel that the next killer app is a filter that will enable users to find music they enjoy.

Dave: I think that’s certainly a critical element of whatever system of music delivery we evolve into. Findability, discovery are going to be critical features. I don’t know that there’s going to be a technological solution to that problem. Again, various forms of word-of-mouth have driven the popularity of all music through the years. So, to the extent that we can supercharge that word-of-mouth that’s happening in blogs like yours and services like Last.fm and Pandora that are kind of aggregating the opinions of others, uncovering and making those available, I think that’s going to be very important. But again, I don’t see how that’s any different than my telling friends in 1963 that I heard this cool band on the Ed Sullivan Show. It’s the same thing.

R&G: What do you think of blog aggregators such as The Hype Machine and Elbows?

Dave: I frequent The Hype Machine. Elbows, I’ve looked at a couple times. I think it’s a great thing. The more somebody can make it easier for people to find music they’re going to like, the more value that entity will gather. I don’t know that a computer-based search is going to be the ultimate winner. I tend to doubt it. I think it’s going to be more in the mobile space. It still blows my mind that people sit in front of their computers and listen to music on these absolutely shitty little speakers. They’re listening to crappy files in an uncomfortable chair. When I grew up, having a killer stereo was all that mattered, other than a car and a girlfriend. The stereo/audio business has completely gone away and been replaced by shitty ear-buds from Apple and MP3 files. It blows my mind that people tolerate that. I think it’s impacted the experience of listening to music, how you listen to it, how you enjoy it. So I’m not sure that a computer-based model is going to get enough traction to supplant other ways of acquiring, listening to and finding out about music. I think it needs to be easier, better sounding, portable and more integrated into your life. It needs to get outside of your bedroom or den.

R&G: I read on your blog that Douglas Merrill, President of EMI Digital, said he agreed with data that suggested file-sharing is good for the music industry. I found that interesting, but he also came from Google and didn’t have any experience in the music business. Do you see a trend in technology guys coming to the labels and figuring out how they can make this work; a technology guy versus the old-school music guy?

Dave: Not necessarily. I think the great labels of the past were run by music people who understood what the artists were all about and how to create great product, great songs and how to put great people together. I don’t think we can wave a wand and put a bunch of techies in the driver’s seat, and everything will suddenly be good. You need educated people that understand the technology, the music, the creative process, the marketing and the relationships with fans. As those skill sets get implanted in the people running the companies that matter – not just labels, but publishers, touring companies, marketing companies and distribution companies – then things will get better. I’m pretty confident of that, but I don’t see technology solving the music industry’s problem.

Read more great interviews here at Rollo & Grady

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Terry McBride of Nettwerk interview

My friend Terry McBride was recently interviewed by Carter Smith of Rollo & Grady. Talk about the Future of Music, Nettwerk is doing it now. Here is the interview:

R&G: What made you decide to focus your business on digital products versus physical ones in 2002?

Terry: It was an intuitive thing for me. Obviously, digital had been seeping into our world for about three years and the Napster effect was apparent. Being a small company and working directly with artists, we could really hear and see what was starting to happen. It was a realization that fighting it wouldn’t work; understanding it and being able to grow it was what was going to work. It was a psychological shift for us. It took a few years to get the rest of the company and analysts focused towards that, but that was the psychological shift for me, which means that the company shifts.

R&G: About 80% of your business is from digital sales now, right?

Terry: Yes, that’s correct.

R&G: Why did you drop DRM in 2003?

Terry: I didn’t see any purpose in locking down files; it made no sense to me. People have always been sharing music. Why would I want to stop them? Why would I want to tell them what to do? The way to win was to get them to support my artists, not to force them to do it a certain way. I know I wouldn’t like anyone telling me that.

R&G: You recently spoke about cloud-based servers, mobile applications and smartphones being the future of the music business.

Terry: What’s happened in the last ten years is kind of moot. The next 18 months will determine the future of the music business. It’s a situation where the turnover on phones by the average consumer – now I’m being generous here – is every two years. It’s probably shorter. The smartphones that are starting to dominate the marketplace are specific platforms now open to applications that are being developed outside of the R&D departments of all of the various carriers. Apple, when they opened up their App Store, I think they sold, what, 150 million apps in maybe 9 months. It stunned the world, and Apple is a small player. They might be a noisy player, but they’re a small player within the mobile space. Research In Motion launches their store this month, Nokia is launching Ovi in April and Google has already launched their Android site. You’re going to see millions of applications come onto the marketplace. You’re going to see social filtering of the really good ones, and what’s going to be in there are applications that change the behavioral habits of how you consume music. The need to download music will no longer exist. If anything, it will be a hassle. You’ll have smartphones that can probably handle two to three hundred songs. That’s a gradual download; you’re actually not streaming it. It’s actually on your phone but it’s pulled from some sort of server, whether it’s your own server or a cloud server. To make all of these applications work, you have to have really good metadata, which means that business has to focus its efforts on really good metadata. Rich metadata is going to work with all of these applications. You’re going to see digital maids, digital valets. You’re going to see applications for maybe five bucks a month where you can access all the music that you want, how you want it, when you want it, imported to any device. So why would you want to download? Why would you want to go online to try to find it for free? Besides, something you find free might not work with these smartphone apps. Five bucks is no big deal to have unlimited access. That’s where everything’s going. All of the current arguments and debates are moot. I would even say that the ticker has now started on when the iPod goes away. I think Apple saw that.

R&G: So their primary focus will be to promote the iPhone?

Terry: They’ve been pushing the iPhone more than anything, and when they opened up their App Store, their intuitions were proven right. It is the App Store that has driven iPhone sales.

R&G: Do you think the major labels will sign off on these applications?

Terry: I don’t think they have any choice in the matter. It’s really just a subscription model, but it’s the application. A subscription model has never worked to date because it’s always been a hassle. It only works on your laptop, you can’t port it between devices, and it’s always streaming and always a pain in the ass. Last.fm and Pandora have been nice, but transferring that around has been really difficult. The applications coming with these smartphones will change all that and make it a hassle not to use them. Downloading will seem like a hassle two years from now. It will be like, ‘Download something? Are you nuts? Here, I can instantly access it. Watch, I’ll just type it in and my valet will go find it for me.’

R&G: Your valet, meaning your filter?

Terry: It’s an app. You’ll program your valet to look at what your 20 closest peers are listening to and create something for you to listen to. Maybe you’re a Led Zeppelin fan and all you want to hear is Led Zeppelin today. Maybe something bad happened and you want to listen to Sarah McLachlan today. Your valet will do that for you, and your digital maid will clean up your library for you.

R&G: That will be huge. It will make music consumption easier for the end user.

Terry: I always call it the hassle factor. It’s a hassle right now to be part of a subscription model. It’s even a hassle to download. These smartphones are radically going to change that. I mean, with Shazam you go, ‘What is that song?’ and you can instantly know what it is and instantly buy it, if that’s what you want to do. Slacker is the first one that comes close to being a digital valet. It’s only going to get better. Anyone with a really good idea can actually make it happen. You’re going to see this coming out of garages and university dorms, not Apple and Blackberry campuses.

R&G: You’re a member of the RIAA. What are your thoughts of them monitoring ISP usage?

Terry: Here’s my whole view of this, and this hasn’t changed for quite a long time. Out of all of the sharing of music, who’s making an economic return? Whoever is should then share that with all the people that allowed it to happen, creating a nice alignment of interests to grow any business. A lot of the providers have viewed music as free content, while at the same time paying for the cable content to grow their networks. They’ve been making money off the backs of the artists without any compensation for the artists at all. I think that’s fundamentally wrong. I’ve also said it’s fundamentally wrong to go after the consumers that are using that opportunity. That’s not the right approach either. The phone companies and the cable providers have gotten away with murder in this whole situation.

R&G: What’s your opinion on music blogs?

Terry: I love music blogs because they’re music fans. They’re authentic and passionate about music. They’re no different than me. All they’re doing is spreading the word about stuff they like. The authentic will rise to the top, which is why I like aggregators like The Hype Machine. I think it’s brilliant. It’s a great way of seeing what music fans are talking about versus some other filter. I’d rather the filter be a social filter, and then you can go into niches. Maybe it’s a bluegrass filter or a country filter or a hard rock filter or an ambient filter. Whatever. Those people are really passionate about that music. You know what? That’s what it’s about. Songs are not copyright. Songs are emotions.

Read more great interviews at Rollo & Grady here.

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Spin Magazine Book Club Pick – The Future of Music

From SPIN.COM

MC Lars, a self-proclaimed “post-punk laptop rapper,” may be best-known for his fast-talking rhymes about Hot Topic stores and hipster girls, but the Bay Area musician is notably literary, and therefore a fitting participant in our ongoing series of musicians talking about their favorite books. Not only has MC Lars penned songs about Moby Dick, Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven,” and Hamlet, he’s also published a book of his own poetry called Bukowski In Love.

For his SPIN.com Book Club pick, Lars veers away from iconic works of literature, instead choosing a practical tome for anyone making music these days: The Future of Music: Manifesto for the Digital Music Revolution, authored by two veterans of pop music who outline the music industry’s digital future.

SPIN: Why did you pick this book?
MC Lars: I studied English literature in college, but in a few years I want to do a PhD in media studies, so I’m always reading books about music technology and the digital music revolution and the evolution of content and new media economics. I read this book because one of the authors, Dave Kusek, is a professor at Berklee College of Music and he’s a really smart guy [who actually was one of the co-developers of MIDI technology, a revolutionary development in electronic music]. It’s really influenced my philosophies on technology and media and it’s also really influenced my business model as a guy with a label.

How many times have you read it?
Three times. It’s a good one.

Do you reread the whole thing or do you just have sections you go back to?

What happened was I read it casually and then I read closely and then I read it again because I wrote a song that was inspired by it. I took some of his philosophies and made it into lyrics. It’s called “Download This Song.” The author heard my song, and on the website for the book they did a little piece about how the song reinforced those philosophies. It was really cool to have this author I really love like the song I wrote about his book.

Read the Spin Article here.

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Radio Interview with Dave Kusek

Listen to this episode of “With A Voice Like This” where I am speaking with Jim Goodrich about the future of music.

It’s been four years since The Future of Music book came out and this radio interview starts with what has changed and what has stayed the same since the book was published. But there’s a twist. At the beginning of the show Jim asked that we not focus on the technology itself, since the book had so much more to offer than just a discussion of technology. Among other things we talk about what’s going on in China currently, the Universal Mobile Device (UMD) and of course, the Music like Water concept.

Listen to the interview here.

Download the MP3 file here.

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Universal Mobile Device

T H E F U T U R E O F M U S I C

In our (2005) book we wrote about the “Universal Mobile Device”

June 1, 2015. Our Universal Mobile Devices (UMD) are “always-on” at 8 MB/second, and we have anytime-anywhere access to music, films, games, books, news, streaming video, online banking, stock market transactions, instant messaging, e-mail, and chats. It’s a global telephone, a digital communication and data transfer device, a Global Positioning Device (GPS), a personal digital assistant, a music/images/film storage device, a recorder, a personal computer, a gaming platform . . . and much more that we haven’t even gotten around to trying yet. Still, it is only a little bit larger than a cigarette pack, its processor is one hundred times as fast as the good old Intel Centrino chip, and with over 5 terabytes of data storage, there is plenty of room for anything we want. Our UMD can project a fairly large and sharp image onto any white surface, it can set up instant secure wireless connections to other computers, beamers, monitors, screens, and printers, and it can connect to other UMDs to exchange data and files, instantly and securely.

The UMD “off-road” version is so durable that you can drive a truck over it, or leave it out in the rain for a few days. Ten days of battery power lets us forget about hunting for electric outlets everywhere we go. In short, our UMDs are irresistible, and sometimes we even struggle with ourselves to put them away.

And how much do we pay to get this device and the wireless service? Less than what a year of dial-up Internet service used to cost only ten years ago. Speaking of those days, we are so relieved to have lost all the cables, the multiple billing procedures, the restrictions on usage, the endless calls to customer service to figure out how to make it work, the non-compatibility, and all of the other burdens. Now, the pricing—and what you get for your money—is so compelling that everyone considers it a part of their basic expenses, like the phone bill, cable television, or car registrations.

Today, the basic content service comes packaged with the monthly service fee, and a content levy is imposed on the device itself. It took ten years for the device makers, software providers, and entertainment companies to agree on a voluntary compulsory licensing scheme, but now the content providers make much more money than they did before UMDs were around. In addition, their marketing costs have shrunk to one tenth of what they used to be, their delivery costs keep falling, administration and accounting is handled by smart automated software agents, and their legal budgets have been reduced to a fraction of what they used to be because there is nothing left to sue for. Finding cool new stuff rules the day. Get our attention, and let us make a connection.

Music companies, book publishers, game companies, and filmmakers are eager for us to check out their stuff, watch their films, play their games, or try their software. The more of their content we use, the more they get paid, pro rata. We still pay the same flat fee, unless we select some premium content—which we do all too often, we have to admit. It may cost only a dollar to “sit-in” on the latest recording sessions with your favorite artist, to order a copy of an issue of Twilight Zone that is not on the UMD Network, or to watch a special backstage Webcast of the Grammy awards. Our UMDs make media and entertainment content so irresistible that our cash just keeps flowing out on the network—a “dream come true” for any content provider that can get our attention.

The UMD service and its built-in tracking software allows the content providers and their agents to find out how their content is doing on the network—how many people have tried it, how many people have shared it, how many people have rated it, and who is talking about it. If we want to, we can share some, a little, or all of our data and other feedback with the UMD service, our friends, or the content providers themselves. We can also provide detailed feedback on their content and earn free UMD “points” that we can use to get free stuff. This way, some of our friends even make more money on the UMD network than they spend on getting the content! They review new bands, recommend new songs and movies to their peers, test new games, or become part of focus groups that evaluate new UMD services.

No longer are we tethered to our computer, the LAN connection, or the power plug. UMDs have become as commonplace as cell phones were a decade ago. Gone are the days of having to worry about where to get cool ring tones, how to turn the cell phone into a real gaming device, or where to watch our favorite soccer game.
The UMD comes fully licensed, and we can do whatever we want with it because most ways of using it are simply already included in the price of the device and related service fees. “Fair use” rules and, as customers, we really like the sense of empowerment. If we want access to special content, we simply use the various premium billing options that bill our UMD accounts, deduct directly from our electronic bank accounts, or use any of the cyber-cash services that we can subscribe to.

So what about the prices? It’s 2015, and we’re paying $59 a month to get all the basic content on the network for free, plus of course, thousands of minutes of free voice and videophone calls. Stream it, download it, listen to or view it on demand, transfer it, share it—whatever we want, anytime, anywhere. Peer-to-peer has taken on an entirely new meaning, and it smells like roses to the content providers and media companies.

Best of all, the sheer amount of content on the network is more than we could ever consume: more than five million music tracks from almost any record label, producer, or lately, directly from the artist. In addition, there are more than one million books; two hundred thousand movies, television shows, and video clips; twenty thousand games, and thousands of software packages. And we are talking about the good stuff here, not just back catalog and “archives.” These offerings are instantly available, instantly archived, bookmarkable, searchable with our content agents, and cross-referenced with our network buddies and friends. The only thing we are really missing is the time to try it all!

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Sounds an awful lot like an iPhone or Blackberry Bold to me. The only thing really missing is the processor power and storage, and then some agreement about global content licenses and a little clearer thinking on the part of copyright owners and we’ll be there.

2,015 is only 6 years away. You know what, I think we are going to get there way before that.

Forrester predicts the number of MP3-capable phones will grow from around 50 million to 240 million, or 75 percent of the US, by 2013. That pales in comparison to the mobile revolution that is occurring in Europe, Asia, Latin America. Basically the entire rest of the world. This is the future of music.

Sales of digital music in Latin America jumped over 50 percent according to the IFPI, more than twice the global average increase. Most of the sales in the region are dominated by downloads to wireless phones or embedded music on the devices.

The mobile platform will bring huge catalogs of music to our pockets coupled with, tickets, social networking and commerce. This is going to completely change that we interact with music. My iPhone with Shazam, Pandora and Twitter is already amazing. I can’t wait.

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New companies win big at Midem

PARIS, (BUSINESS WIRE) — Music Ally, the leading digital music strategy and research company, and MIDEM, organizers of MidemNet, the international forum dedicated to reflection on the music business in the digital age, are delighted to announce the winners of the second Music Ally/MidemNet “New Business Showcase.” The winners presented their ideas at MidemNet’s 10th annual conference in Cannes in January 2009.

About the Winners

Instinctiv Shuffle
Ever thought random shuffling of music was too, well, random? Instinctiv has had that thought too, and has come up with Instinctiv Shuffle. It’s an iPhone / iPod Touch application that aims to provide a smarter shuffle feature, guessing the user’s mood by what songs they listen to and what ones they skip. The app has so far only been available on jailbroken iPhones, but has been causing a stir.

MPTrax
MPTrax is focused on bringing Web 2.0 connectivity to the live music arena, connecting bands, rappers and DJs to venues, clubs and party planners – including people arranging house parties and other small events. Currently in beta, it offers a dedicated booking platform, complete with a feedback/rating system, invitation tools, sample contracts and social networking features. It could be a crucial tool for bands looking off the beaten track for their live revenues.

Mustik
Mustik is an interactive musical instrument which allows non musicians to play music. The way you interact with the Mustik alters the way that the musical track plays back. It’s a kind of Guitar Hero on acid. Conceived from a University project on embodied interaction, this is one product you have to see to believe.

Passionato
Launched earlier this year, Passionato is a website targeting classical music fans with higher quality downloads, selling DRM-free music as 320kbps MP3 files, or lossless FLAC files for proper audiophiles. The store also builds in reviews, user ratings and community features, as well as the obligatory Facebook and MySpace widgets.

Play Anywhere
Catch Media’s Play Anywhere scheme is certainly ambitious, aiming to offer a grand solution to interoperability. It’s about allowing users to playback music that they own, or which they’re legally entitled to access, across all possible devices. The company has already obtained new Play Anywhere licences from two major labels, and is ultimately hoping to entice all players within the digital value chain, including retailers, mobile operators and ISPs.

Soundcloud
It’s been described as “a Google Docs for audio” and a “Flickr for music,” so Soundcloud has solid Web 2.0 credentials. It’s an online audio platform designed to let people move music quickly and easily, whether they’re artists, labels, producers or other professionals. It’s attracted more than 2,000 labels and 50,000 users so far without splashing the cash. It’s been winning praise for its flexibility and featureset from early users this year.

The Echo Nest
Founded at the prestigious MIT Media Lab, The Echo Nest claims to be “the software equivalent of a hardware store for music developers.” In other words, it offers open APIs covering artist information, music search, recommendation, remix applications, mash-ups and analytic tools. The idea is that clever developers tap into these APIs to build innovative new music services. Early proof of concepts have showed how powerful these tools can be.