Photo credit: http://bit.ly/18lnuFf

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/18lnuFf

Former Pink Floyd and T Rex manager Peter Jenner, now emeritus president of the International Music Managers’ Forum, talks online music, copyright and the future of the music industry.  It is very satisfying to see the ideas expressed in our Future of Music book becoming mainstream concepts in the industry.

>As physical sales decrease, how should the music industry be monetising its content?

Record companies believe that music is about selling bits of stuff to people in a retail environment. They always looked on the internet as a potentially huge retail environment and it’s actually a service environment. The record companies should be working out what services they can provide.

They should also be talking to ISPs instead of fighting them. The key thing is people are going to want music as part of what they get on their digital connections. The ISPs are going to have to invest more and more to develop better services, and in that context they will have to start charging for content, whether they charge for content directly with a meter or whether they bundle it or use advertising or sponsorship.

Another way to go would be to look at statutory licensing for different types of usage. It would be incredibly bureaucratic but it would be one way. So let people access whatever music they like and pay a set rate. The same with commercial businesses.

>Do record labels still have a role to play in the music industry?

Yes absolutely, particularly for investment and promotion and marketing. And they could become very good at licensing, at helping artists to develop their website. But they have to get away from this idea of control and instead become partners of the artists. Many of the record and film companies are very enamoured with the idea of control because it’s how their model has always worked, with in-house lawyers and copyright advisors. There is huge inertia in the way the industry licenses and administers content. We have to fight this.

>How have the sources of revenue in the music industry changed?

Until the CD came along I think artists overall got a better deal and more control and a better bite of the money. After they invented the CD the record companies increasingly fought back, decreasing artists’ revenue share and increasing their control. That’s just got worse with the advent of the internet because there is less money available. You used to be able to sell 5,000 albums, now that is incredibly hard so the industry has to look at digital options, but a lot of web services don’t pay properly. Google will pay you a share of the revenue you generate for them, but if you don’t make them money you don’t get money.

>Has social media changed the way bands are marketed and content is discovered?

Yes, but it has huge potential to do more. At the moment, because it isn’t licensable, it isn’t doing the job that it ought to be doing. But what it can do is alter the value chain. With less money available in the music business we have to instead look at what we do have. And what we have is lots of data on music fans. Marketing has always traditionally been more expensive than recording but we can cut these costs by using social sites and viral links. And maybe we can cut out advertising costs because acts can just directly email their fans.

>Can music-streaming services support the music industry?

They are good, but they don’t have all the music. I manage Billy Bragg and there are a hundred versions of his tracks online. I can get a recorded version but a lot of the times on these services there are no live versions. And globally there are billions of tracks so the problem remains of how people find a particular piece of music or if they like something how they find similar bands. People aren’t just looking to buy the music, they are looking to buy a service which is personal and recommends music and enables discovery and which saves them time. I’m not sure anyone is really offering this yet.

>Is there a future for physical music?

Yes, but its role in the industry will become less. Probably physical music, like CDs, will become very expensive and luxurious and they will be like hardback coffee table books and people will only buy maybe one or two a year. The music industry’s job is to make as much money as it can from a track or album, and that includes physical sales alongside digital sales, access services and anything else they can come up with.

>What do you think the music industry will look like in 10 years?

Probably very similar. But what we might look on as broadcasting income will hugely increase. Most revenues will come from users paying to access the content. You won’t notice that you are paying for recorded music so much.

I think the artists ought to be much more powerful, whether they will get it together is another matter. There will be record labels, but whether they will be labels that own content or just be agents I don’t know. They might be more like the Performing Rights Society and less like Universal.

Read the whole interview here from Sara Vizard at Strategy Eye

The entire music industry has been driven by new formats, new music and innovation over the past 70 years. This has been fueled with the passion to be a star and receive the adoration of millions.

Well, I think we might be seeing the beginning of a new music format. A format that engages audiences in experiencing and participating in the creative process in a way that is fun and unobtrusive. Insightful and funny. Playful and inspiring.  The VideoSong.

Jack Conte and Nataly Dawn are the band Pomplamoose and they are generating huge YouTube interest and views with their VideoSong format. They got tens of millions of views in a very short time with this number increasing while you read this. The VideoSong format these two produce is very inviting and addictive, providing a glimpse into the process of recording and creating music.

In the words of Jack Conte, “There’s no hidden sounds, there’s no lip-synching, there’s no overdubbing. What you see is what you hear.  Sometimes, there might be two or three Natalys harmonizing with herself, and then you’ll see those three videos juxtaposed together on the screen.

I love what they are doing here.  A glimpse into what it is to record a song and make things happen like this is so appealing.  Will Pamplamoose really be able to capitalize on their momentum?  We will see.  They are spokespeople for the YouTube’s Musicians Wanted program.  I bet their phone is ringing big time.

Is this the format for the future?  I don’t know.  What I really like is the accessibility and transparency in the creative and recording process that they bring foward.  If they can draw people in even further, that would be great.  They seem very open to audience interaction.

I hope they find a great manager because what they have is really compelling, really great raw talent.

Last week host of Networking Musician Radio, David Vignola interviewed me about Music Power Network and the Future of Music.  Here is the audio interview along with a link to David’s site.  Great resource for indie artists.

Music Power Network provides a wide variety of music business education, tools, interviews and lots of resources for the D.I.Y. musician. The site also offers an equal wealth of information / education for producers, managers or publishers.

http://www.podbean.com/podcast-audio-video-blog-player/mp3playerlightsmallv3.swf?audioPath=http://networkingmusician.podbean.com/mf/play/nsumyj/MusicPowerNetwork.mp3&autoStart=no

I was hanging out with my friend Charlie McEnerney last night and asked him about his interview with Larry Lessig.  Here is his post and a link to the complete interview from Well Rounded Radio.  Check it out.

In many music and entertainment circles, the name Lawrence Lessig needs no introduction, but for those who don’t know his work, here’s some background.

Lessig is a lawyer and activist whose interests are mostly in intellectual property, copyright, technology, and political reform. He’s has written five influential books, including Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace (2000), The Future of Ideas (2001), Free Culture (2004), Code: Version 2.0 (2006), and Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy (2008).

Remix was just published in paperback in October 2009.

Over the past 10 years, Lessig has worked for both Harvard Law School and Stanford Law School. He is currently a lawyer at Harvard Law School and director of the Edmond J. Safra Foundation Center for Ethics at Harvard University.

Lessig is a founding board member of Creative Commons. In 2008, Lessig launched the Change Congress campaign, now called Fix Congress First.

Lessig talks about Creative Commons during the interview, but in a nutshell it’s an organization with copyright tools that allows content creators to give various levels of freedom to others for them to remix and build upon the original work.

The idea behind remix culture is how an artist can take a work that a pervious artist has produced and build upon it to create something new. The term has become more commonplace in the last decade, but in fact the concept has been in use for decades, most notably in rap music starting 30 years ago.

Growing up in Queens, New York, I was lucky enough to hear the rap bands of the first era pretty early on (granted, thanks to bands like Blondie and The Clash and college radio putting Grandmaster Flash, The Sugar Hill Gang, Kurtis Blow, and Afrika Bambaattaa on my radar) which usually utilized sampling techniques when creating their music.

I have long been a fan of the groups who fine tuned the ideas behind audio sampling to perfection, in Long Island’s Public Enemy and De La Soul. I’ve always thought both groups pushed the ideas behind sampling in ways that few others did before or since, albeit in very different directions.

With Public Enemy’s 1988 album It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back and De La Soul’s 1989 album 3 Feet High and Rising, at the moment it seemed like the idea of what music “is” was being reinvented.

But, after a series of lawsuits for a variety of musicians and labels, the art of sampling and remixing was largely hobbled, in either using others work with or without their consent.

Twenty years later, it is still mostly the domain of those willing to tread in dangerous waters or for artists who want to engage their own fans by allowing them to remix work as part of the growing participatory culture community. For remix artists who might be looking to push their ideas further, it’s unlikely they can put their work into the public without a sizable budget.

Having read all of Lessig’s work and seen two recent documentaries about the remix culture (Brett Gaylor’s RIP: A Remix Manifesto and Benjamin Franzen’s Copyright Criminals), I wanted to speak with Lessig about how current musicians could utilize Creative Commons and share with their own audience as well as look at how we music fans can better understand this era of shared creativity, which dramatically changes the idea of those performers vs. us in the audience.

In addition to these films and Lessig’s Remix book, some good reads on the subject include DJ Spooky’s book Sound Unbound (2008) and Matt Mason’s The Pirate’s Dilemma: How Youth Culture is Reinventing Capitalism (2009).

The show includes music from the earlier era of sampling as well as some recent examples of mainstream musicians offering up their work for remixing, including David Byrne and Brian Eno, Nine Inch Nails, Radiohead, and Bjork.

I sat down with Lessig at his office at Harvard Law School to discuss:
* why it’s unlikely the current copyright system will change
* why Greg Gillis, also known as Girl Talk, has not been sued
* how Creative Commons works and how musicians can use it to engage their fans even more

Songs included in the interview include:
1) Public Enemy: Welcome to the Terrordome (Welcome to the Terrordome) (in preview)
2) Grandmaster Flash: The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel
3) De La Soul: Me Myself and I (3 Feet High and Rising)
4) Public Enemy: Night of the Living Baseheads
5) DJ Moule: Black Sabotage remix of Beastie Boys‘s Sabotage
6) Radiohead: Reckoner (In Rainbows)
7) Nick Olivetti: Nasty Fish remix of Radiohead‘s Reckoner
8) David Byrne + Brian Eno: Help Me Somebody (My Life in the Bush of Ghosts)
9) Owl Garden: Secret Somebody remix of David Byrne + Brian Eno‘s Help Me Somebody
10) Mr. Briggs Hit me somebody remix of David Byrne + Brian Eno‘s Help Me Somebody
11) Girl Talk: No Pause (Feed the Animals)
12) Girl Talk: In Step (Feed the Animals)
13) Danger Mouse: Encore (The Gray Album)
14) The Album Leaf‘s remix of Nina Simone‘s Lilac Wine from Verve Remixed
15) Vind‘s remix of Bjork‘s Venus as a Boy
16) Fatboy Slim: Praise You (You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby)
17) Amplive‘s remix of Radiohead‘s Weird Fishes

Get the audio interview here.

From a fascinating article just published in the Atlantic. “The Grateful Dead’s influence on the business world may turn out to be a significant part of its legacy. Without intending towhile intending, in fact, to do just the oppositethe band pioneered ideas and practices that were subsequently embraced by corporate America. One was to focus intensely on its most loyal fans. It established a telephone hotline to alert them to its touring schedule ahead of any public announcement, reserved for them some of the best seats in the house, and capped the price of tickets, which the band distributed through its own mail-order house. If you lived in New York and wanted to see a show in Seattle, you didn’t have to travel there to get ticketsand you could get really good tickets, without even camping out. “The Dead were masters of creating and delivering superior customer value,” Barry Barnes, a business professor at the H. Wayne Huizenga School of Business and Entrepreneurship at Nova Southeastern University, in Florida, told me. Treating customers well may sound like common sense. But it represented a break from the top-down ethos of many organizations in the 1960s and ’70s. Only in the 1980s, faced with competition from Japan, did American CEOs and management theorists widely adopt a customer-first orientation.

As Barnes and other scholars note, the musicians who constituted the Dead were anything but naive about their business. They incorporated early on, and established a board of directors (with a rotating CEO position) consisting of the band, road crew, and other members of the Dead organization. They founded a profitable merchandising division and, peace and love notwithstanding, did not hesitate to sue those who violated their copyrights. But they weren’t greedy, and they adapted well. They famously permitted fans to tape their shows, ceding a major revenue source in potential record sales. According to Barnes, the decision was not entirely selfless: it reflected a shrewd assessment that tape sharing would widen their audience, a ban would be unenforceable, and anyone inclined to tape a show would probably spend money elsewhere, such as on merchandise or tickets. The Dead became one of the most profitable bands of all time.

It’s precisely this flexibility that Barnes believes holds the greatest lessons for businesshe calls it “strategic improvisation.” It isn’t hard to spot a few of its recent applications. Giving something away and earning money on the periphery is the same idea proffered by Wired editor Chris Anderson in his recent best-selling book, Free: The Future of a Radical Price. Voluntarily or otherwise, it is becoming the blueprint for more and more companies doing business on the Internet. Today, everybody is intensely interested in understanding how communities form across distances, because that’s what happens online. Far from being a subject of controversy, Rebecca Adams’s next book on Deadhead sociology has publishers lining up.

Much of the talk about “Internet business models” presupposes that they are blindingly new and different. But the connection between the Internet and the Dead’s business model was made 15 years ago by the band’s lyricist, John Perry Barlow, who became an Internet guru. Writing in Wired in 1994, Barlow posited that in the information economy, “the best way to raise demand for your product is to give it away.” As Barlow explained to me: “What people today are beginning to realize is what became obvious to us back thenthe important correlation is the one between familiarity and value, not scarcity and value. Adam Smith taught that the scarcer you make something, the more valuable it becomes. In the physical world, that works beautifully. But we couldn’t regulate [taping at] our shows, and you can’t online. The Internet doesn’t behave that way. But here’s the thing: if I give my song away to 20 people, and they give it to 20 people, pretty soon everybody knows me, and my value as a creator is dramatically enhanced. That was the value proposition with the Dead.” The Dead thrived for decades, in good times and bad. In a recession, Barnes says, strategic improvisation is more important then ever. “If you’re going to survive this economic downturn, you better be able to turn on a dime,” he says. “The Dead were exemplars.” It can be only a matter of time until Management Secrets of the Grateful Dead or some similar title is flying off the shelves of airport bookstores everywhere.”

Read more at the Atlantic.

On my way to the TED conference last week, I devoured Jay Frank’s book Futurehit.dna on the plane.  Jay has some great insights into the past, present and future of songwriting and hit making that we can all learn from.  This is a must read if you are composing for the digital age and trying to gain an edge and find exposure opportunities for listeners.

Jay breaks it down for us on the impact of technology on songwriting and how hits of the past have been carefully crafted to fit into radio airplay on to the iPod, Pandora and streaming era.  His insights into how song form, intros, chord changes, repeats, hooks and other techniques connect a good song with a listener are invaluable.

With today’s digital music is it crucial to catch your listeners attention in the first seven seconds of the song.  After that, repeats are key as well as how the complexity of the song changes over time.  Some of this is old news, but the way he relates it to the technology platforms is interesting and valuable.

How you release music and in what form will determine your chances that your songs will be listened to and remembered enough to make an impact.

Technical, detailed, clear and concise Futurehit.dna will get you thinking about how to create a competitive advantage for you and your music in the days ahead.  Highly recommended food for though.

Check it out here.

Here’s a great post by Mike Masnick.

“As you look through all of these, some patterns emerge. They’re not about getting a fee on every transaction or every listen or every stream. They’re not about licensing. They’re not about DRM or lawsuits or copyright. They’re about better connecting with the fans and then offering them a real, scarce, unique reason to buy — such that in the end, everyone is happy. Fans get what they want at a price they want, and the musicians and labels make money as well. It’s about recognizing that the music itself can enhance the value of everything else, whether it’s shows, access or merchandise, and that letting fans share music can help increase the market and create more fans willing to buy compelling offerings. It’s about recognizing that even when the music is shared freely, there are business models that work wonders, without copyright or licensing issues even coming into play.

Adding in new licensing schemes only serves to distort this kind of market. Fans and artists are connecting directly and doing so in a way that works and makes money. Putting in place middlemen only takes a cut away from the musicians and serves to make the markets less efficient. They need to deal with overhead and bureaucracy. They need to deal with collections and allocation. They make it less likely for fans to support bands directly, because the money is going elsewhere. Even when licensing fees are officially paid further up the line, those costs are passed on to the end users, and the money might not actually go to supporting the music they really like.

Instead, let’s let the magic of the market continue to work. New technologies are making it easier than ever for musicians to create, distribute and promote music — and also to make money doing so. In the past, the music business was a “lottery,” where only a very small number made any money at all. With these models, more musicians than ever before are making money today, and they’re not doing it by worrying about copyright or licensing. They’re embracing what the tools allow. A recent study from Harvard showed how much more music is being produced today than at any time in history, and the overall music ecosystem — the amount of money paid in support of music — is at an all time high, even if less and less of it is going to the purchase of plastic discs.

This is a business model that’s working now and it will work better and better in the future as more people understand the mechanisms and improve on them. Worrying about new copyright laws or new licensing schemes or new DRM or new lawsuits or new ways to shut down file sharing is counterproductive, unnecessary and dangerous. Focusing on what’s working and encouraging more of that is the way to go. It’s a model that works for musicians, works for enablers and works for fans. It is the future and we should be thrilled with what it’s producing.”

Read a lot more here.

It is great to see successful artists rally around causes bigger than declining record sales or online piracy.  The Green Music Group, founded by Guster’s Adam Gardner and his wife, environmentalist Lauren Sullivan along with Sheryl Crow, Willy Nelson, Dave Matthews Band, Bare Naked Ladies, Linkin Park and Bonnie Raitt and others is organizing to bring about widespread environmental change within the music industry and around the globe.

The newly formed coalition is focused on transforming the music business’s environmental practices in the areas of:







GMG is a large-scale, high-profile environmental coalition of musicians, industry leaders and music fans using our collective power to bring about widespread environmental change within the music industry and around the globe.

Leading by example, Green Music Group facilitates large-scale greening of the music community, and magnifies the work of national nonprofits, all while building a vibrant community committed to environmental action.

The broad support of our founding members paired with their leadership as environmental stewards enables GMG to inspire millions to action by:

1. Creating an engaging online community of musicians, music industry leaders, and music fans all committed to addressing our greatest environmental concerns.

2. Facilitating large-scale greening of the music community through touring, venue, and label standards, resource development, green grants mentoring, and viral video and public service campaigns.

3. Providing environmental nonprofits with a megaphone for their cause, allowing them to expand their reach and support base.

4. Creating a sustainable green music guild to support and inform the efforts of the music community and position leaders in the music industry as voices for change, working to shine a light on the most pressing environmental issues of our time.

I personally plan on getting involved in this and bringing Berklee along with me into the project.  We already run a very environmentally friendly online music school that avoids many of the traditional and costly expenses such as buildings, heat, transportation, and lodging involved in face-to-face schools.

I am hoping to encourage the Green Music Group to explore alternative experiences to touring such as online shows, virtual studio sessions and other ideas that can cut the costs and waste out of touring while still preserving a great experience for fans and artists alike.

Green Music Group welcomes all members of the music community to join!

Another Wordle rendering.

This is how Wordle sees my blog

This is how Wordle sees my blog

Here is a list of 9 trends and challenges that were recently published as part of an overall report on Digital Music by Redwood Capital.  You can download the entire report here.  What I find most bothersome about all of this is that it is a very backward looking, rationalization and justification about the collapse of the recorded music business and the fantasizing about protection of the label’s assets and proliferation of the traditional business model.  While it may be a good snapshot of some of the major issues the industry has faced and a good way for people to orient themselves, this is hardly the way to think about the future.  No wonder the investments made in music startups over the past decade or so by the VCs and Investment Bankers have not panned out.  If this is the way VCs and investors look at the world of music, I got to tell you, we are all in a lot of trouble.

I have pitched and have had many deep discussions with investors over the years about the music industry and have learned one thing that is holding the entire industry back.  Investors say they care about the music business, but when it comes right down to it, they don’t care about the musicians.  Not one of them would bet on a new label or artist driven business model.  They all wanted to back technology or distribution, but not musicians.  Pathetic.

I have taken the liberty of annotating some of these “treneds and challenges” below:

1) Rampant Piracy Continues

Despite a decade of aggressive attempts by the industry to reduce illegal downloads and peer-to-peer file sharing and preserve what remained of the old model, the biggest challenge facing the industry is still the fact that consumer attitudes towards paying for music have been forever changed, especially amongst the ever-important younger demographic. This places tremendous pressure on industry players to provide the consumer with an experience that exceeds that which can be achieved illegally and for free. The solution likely lies in packaging music with other products and services that consumers expect to pay for, such as mobile phone service, Internet connections, ringtones, concerts, merchandise, etc., and taking advantage of improvements in broadband speed and access to provide a service that can’t be replicated for free. – Certainly this is true for recorded music and something that we predicted nearly 8 years ago in our book on the Future of Music. However you cannot expect a healthy market when you have to “package” what you are trying to sell with something else as the primary means of distribution.  New forms of music experiences would certainly trump “bundles”.

2) Strategy of Major Labels

Despite numerous attempts to cut out the labels as middlemen, and the potential damage they have done to their relationships with the public after years of suing their customers, the major labels still have tremendous clout in determining the fate of the various new distribution models and emerging companies. While backing by the major labels by no means guarantees any degree of success, opposition from the labels is an obstacle that is extremely difficult to overcome. That being said, many of the larger players today began without the blessing of the labels, but once they became too big to ignore the labels were willing to make a deal. – Again I would argue this perspective assumes that the existing music, the existing catalog is more important than the new music, or the music yet to be created.  Tens of millions of dollars have been wasted and countless hours of negotiation sunk into trying to secure licenses to existing major label content by many companies trying to recreate the distribution model for an asset class in severe decline.  I will go out on a limb here and say that the new music matters far more in the future than the existing music, and that licenses from the major labels are far less valuable than the labels think they are.  Perhaps an order of magnitude less.

3) Legal Complexity

Many US copyright laws were written when the only form of music distribution was printed sheet music and as such, obtaining the proper licenses from all relevant content owners is extremely complex. Given the relative youth of the digital music industry, the law is being written and applied haphazardly and has been difficult to interpret. International differences make it difficult to offer consistent products on a global basis. For example, currently Pandora is legal in the US, but illegal in the U.K, and vice versa for Spotify. Developing a business plan in this environment is extraordinarily difficult. – Of course this is true if you are building a business based on catalog.  New labels and music companies that are forming to support new artists can completely eliminate this issue by creating licenses for their content that bundle all the rights in one global license that can be easily acquired.  By using this strategy, new content businesses can outrun old content business and begin to take over the landscape.

4) The End of DRM

The recent decisions by the labels to finally eliminate digital rights management for many applications should represent a landmark change for emerging growth companies in the music space. This greatly reduces a longstanding barrier by allowing compatibility of content and devices across platforms. By decoupling content and devices, consumers can now download a song from their choice of providers and listen to that song on their choice of devices. – Excuse me but the labels had nothing to do with the elimination of digital rights management.  That was eliminated long ago when people began trading MP3 files while all the attempts to distribute “legitimate” digital music failed. This is just the labels saying uncle.

5) Mobile Strategy is Critical

Whereas it has been extremely challenging for content owners across all digital media sectors to monetize online content, consumers do not expect mobile content to be free to the same degree because they have been conditioned to pay for such services. Therefore, we believe that online models that don’t have credible mobile strategies will continue to struggle, and killer mobile apps will prosper. We believe that one of the primary reasons for MySpace’s acquisition of Imeem was Imeem’s mobile capabilities. – Here I agree with the basic premise that a mobile strategy is critical, although have yet to see one that works.  Do people really want to listen to music on their phone?  Is that the killer app?  I expect that something far better is around the corner, more integrated into your life at the moments where you can and want to listen to music.  The damage being done to people’s hearing by the “Ear Buds” sold with the iPod and nearly every other mobile listening device is limiting the experience and holding back the growth of mobile music more than anything.  MP3 sound like crap.  Ear Buds are destroying people’s hearing.  No wonder hardly anyone wants to pay for digital music.  Anyone who focuses on improving the sound quality of mobile listening will find a explosive opportunity.

6) Dominance and Importance of the iPhone

With iTunes’ almost 70% US share in digital downloads, and the iPhone quickly taking market share in the smartphone category, alliances with Apple and/ or apps on the iPhone have become critical to success. Rhapsody, Spotify and Sirius have all launched iPhone apps in the past few months, and MOG’s is expected shortly, and this should give each an important boost in marketing their products. Without the iPhone app, customers would have had to spring for another device to use those services. With customers hesitant to even pay monthly service fees, adding a hardware requirement would have been an insurmountable obstacle in reaching a large customer base. We believe that Apple has been smart in its willingness to approve apps even from services that compete with iTunes. – I love my iPhone, I think it is the coolest thing ever invented.  But I also know that worldwide, the iPhone is just a speck on the landscape of mobile phones.  Will Apple really dominate this space over time?  I doubt it very much.  The vast majority of people cannot afford to buy Apple products.

7) Importance of Wireless Broadband

The widespread availability of broadband in the home and the office in the past decade has enabled computer-based downloading and streaming to develop entirely new methods of discovering, purchasing and listening to music. Many of the previously mentioned business models revolve around this experience. However, the next frontier for the developing models is to take the experience mobile without frustrating consumers. Now that consumers have accepted that cell phones are also music players, the market for mobile music has dramatically expanded, given that 139 million smartphones were sold worldwide in 2008 (Source: Gartner). To date, while streaming services such as Rhapsody and Pandora are a great way to listen to music at one’s desk, the experience on a mobile phone is mediocre at best, given dead spots and dropouts, and in the case of Rhapsody, low bitrate streaming. We suspect that many early adopters have tried these mobile services, only to get frustrated and go back to listening to MP3s on their iPods. Spotify’s and Slacker’s ability to cache playlists may prove to be a good workaround until wireless broadband availability and quality catches up. – I am a firm believer that you do not have to worry about storage and bandwidth, that they will always expand faster than you think they will.  Agreed.

8 ) Consumers Remain Willing to Pay for Exciting New Technologies and Products

Consumers have proven that they are indeed willing to pay for new products and technologies that enhance the music experience or provide new uses for music. The tremendous initial growth of the ringtone market is one example. US ringtone sales grew from almost zero in 2002 to a peak of $714 million in 2007, before dropping 24% in 2008 (Source: SNL Kagan) as consumers ultimately figured out how to create ringtones on their own for free. iTunes has created new value added products that sell at a premium, such as iTunes Pass, which automatically delivers all new product, including exclusive extras, from a specific band to its fans, and iTunes LP, which adds album art, videos, and other extras to an album purchase. Shazam is another good example. Shazam is the second most popular music app on the iPhone and claims 50 million users. Shazam is a unique technology that enables users to use their mobile phone to identify and tag any song they hear in public or on the radio and immediately purchase the song. The app is so popular that Shazam is now charging customers $5 for the premium app, and is limiting free users to five tags per month, and its usage is accelerating. – Completely agree.  This is in line with my basic premise that the new stuff matters far more than the old stuff, and if you can deliver a unique experience to a fan, especially one that is fun and sounds incredibly great, they will eat it up.

9) Convergence of Models

Most streaming services also offer the ability to purchase tracks either with their own ecommerce model or with links to others, most often iTunes and Amazon. To date, most ecommerce models have not offered streaming services, likely out of fear of cannibalization as well as licensing requirements. We believe that as streaming catches on with a broader audience, the e-commerce players will have to offer both. Apple is now more likely to move in this direction with its purchase of Lala, and increases our level of confidence that the streaming model is the wave of the future. – I believe as we wrote about in the Future of Music, that a utility model is the only way to make money with recorded music in the future.  Until music become always on and always available and feels like it is free to you, the market will continue to decline.  It is not so much the convergence of models but the ascendance of a model that will work.  The broadband mobile carriers are the ones that can make this happen.  It is a winner take all business strategy for the company with the balls and commitment to bake paid media distribution into their basic business model.

Comments anyone?

OK

Here are some good summaries of trends that apply to music.  More to follow…

10 music-tech trends that will shape the next decade – from CNET

“With recording revenue plunging, bands must draw fans to their live shows in order to make a living. The common wisdom today dictates that musicians need a personal connection with their fans. They must blog, tweet, maintain their MySpace and Facebook profiles, and generally act like your next door neighbor who’s always pestering you to see his band. There’s a word for receiving “personal” messages from your favorite 100 bands–it’s called “spam.” Eventually, this cloud of self-promotional noise will dissipate, and will be replaced by old-fashioned word of mouth. Only acts that put on a great show–not just singing and playing songs, but entertaining in the old-fashioned sense of the word, with video and stagecraft and humor and spectacle–will cut through the noise. Bonus points for the first act that somehow integrates an audience-accessible game console into their act.”

The 20 key digital music trends in 2009 – from Music Ally

“There’s no doubt that consumers like streaming music when it’s done well, as illustrated by the success of Spotify and Pandora this year. And it seems equally certain that streaming has a significant role to play in the future of the music industry. That role, however, will be alongside other revenue streams, rather than being the downloads killer it’s sometimes painted as being by the media.  However, as 2009 draws to a close, there is still huge debate around the economics of streaming music, with ad revenues nowhere close to paying for the licensing costs, and artists and labels still grousing about their royalty cheques while fearful about cannibalisation of music sales. ‘Freemium’ has replaced ‘ad-supported’ as the business model of choice; but even that has yet to prove itself as a truly sustainable option.”

MidemNet Chooses Top 15 Digital Music Startups – from Hypebot

“The 15 start-ups chosen by Music Ally and a jury of entrepreneurs cover a range of digital fields that offer opportunities for the music industry including live applications (Awdio, Songkick, Streamjam), digital licensing of sheet music and lyrics (DigiClef, TuneWiki), artist management (BandCentral), managing key data for artists (Band Metrics), digital distribution (Pops Worldwide), web radio (Radionomy), remixing (Aviary, GoMix and Tracksandfields), musical discovery (Thesixtyone), artistic financing (Kickstarter) and on-line advertising (Silence Media).”

This is funny as hell, and probably not all that far off from what’s coming…

software

The Ultimate Rack:

Make Sound Like
Creative Difference Engine
Excellentalizer
Ego Controls
Decade Selector
IQ
Presence

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Great info-graphics at:
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“Maybe music consumers don’t have to own their songs anymore.” – USA Today

After years of resisting efforts to offer music fans the ability to “rent” music instead of buying downloads, Apple is finally joining the party. Apple’s purchase of online music service Lala brings the No. 1 music retailer into the streaming music business.

For years, the music industry has advanced subscription services such as Rhapsody and Napster, saying they made more sense for the consumer and better profits for the labels. But the services have not panned out.

What has changed is the popularity of free streaming services, led by Pandora, which has 40 million monthly listeners worldwide. You can’t choose specific songs, but you can choose your favorite artists. Pandora then creates a music experience for you with similar-sounding music. Pandora is widely popular on the Web and on smartphones, including the iPhone.

Inside Digital Media analyst Phil Leigh says

“There’s no doubt this will become the successor to radio and be how new music will be popularized”

Read more here from USA Today

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…

Get Busy Committee

Get Busy Committee

My friend Ian Rogers, CEO of Topspin has started to co-manage the band “Get Busy Committee“.  He has begun to blog about ALL the activities that an artist manager needs to drive their band to success.  It is a fascinating read and a real world education on how to take a band to market in the new music business.  This is going to be really fun to watch as Ian lays out step by step what he is doing to break this band and “get busy” in the marketplace.

To bring a band to market in today’s indie music market is a hell of a lot of work.  You need to be an entrepreneur and you need to build a team of people to help you market, package, promote, distribute, brainstorm, license, and develop a successful artist.  Ian is taking the indie artist management route described at Music Power Network.

Here are some excerpts from his blog.  Required reading for the indie artist and manager today:

The first thing we did was define success: as I mentioned earlier, the goal is to get this music to as many people as possible, connect directly with the ones who like it, build products those people want to own, and turn a profit. Sure it would be great to make enough money that Get Busy Committee could be their primary income, but we definitely aren’t starting with the “if we don’t get a song on a radio this is a failure” mentality. We are starting at zero. The goal is to grow every single week and not lose money.

We started by putting together a release plan. I opened a Google Doc and started dropping ideas and info into it, and encouraged others to do the same. We needed a team, so we started assembling the roster of people, services, and tools which would help us get this record out the door:

Building a Team

Press Relations and Marketing
Creative Direction
Web site design and development
Digital distribution
Physical Distribution
Non-traditional physical manufacturing
Performing rights organizations
Legal

While getting the album to iTunes is the main thrust for a lot of artists, it’s only part of the story (and a very small part so far) for us. We’ve been preparing for this release for months, started selling the album in six different package two weeks ago, are selling the album for $1 on MySpace all weekend, and much more.

Web Site

The object was to make the site:

Home base. The top SEO result for “Get Busy Committee” and anything else related to the band.

Vibrant. It should update with the latest information about Get Busy Committee with very little effort, from a variety of sources. Furthermore, we weren’t going to spend time or money building any of these tools from scratch. We integrated WordPress and Twitter to make sure it was easy to update with long or short-form updates (respectively) easily.

A fan acquisition tool. The site should be sticky like fly-paper. If you visit the site you should have an incentive to leave behind your email address, follow GBC on Twitter, become a fan on Facebook, a friend on MySpace, friend on Flickr, subscriber on YouTube, or subscribe via RSS. We may only get one chance to make a connection with you. We don’t want you to bounce in and bounce out without granting us permission to reach out to you later with an update.

A tool for fans to create other fans. Every page of the site is instrumented with simple ways to share on Facebook and Twitter, and feedback for having done so either in the form of a counter or free music for having done so. We want it to not only be easy to spread the word but for you to be recognized for having done so.

A place to convert at whatever level of fan you happen to be. Never heard of Get Busy Committee? No problem, you can stream the record or download a few songs for free. Super fan? How about the T-Shirt/USB Flash Drive combo for $55? Somewhere in between? No worries. We have something for you.

Useful. If you’re a college radio DJ who needs a clean version to play on your show or a beatmeister who wants an acapella to remix that should be easy to find. If you’re a blogger writing about the band there should be, even if it’s not linked from the front page. Anything you email to people regularly should be on the site and easily linked to.

Read much, much more about marketing, pricing, making connections, creating awareness and all the things a smart artist manager needs to know.  Brilliant!

Thanks Ian.

A new study by research teams from Carnegie Mellon University, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Stanford University verifies that downloading music cuts energy consumption and CO2 emissions significantly in comparison to shopping at your local music store.

The study shows that purchasing digital music downloads results in a 40-80 percent reduction in energy use and carbon emissions compared to distributing CDs. The study took into consideration the energy used to download the files over the Internet. It compared 4 different ways of obtaining and listening to music.

The least energy intensive way of acquiring music is to download it and listen to it digitally.

Downloading and burning a CD wastes more energy, purchasing a CD online wastes even more energy, and finally purchasing a CD at a retail store wastes the most energy. And, if you have to drive to the store to buy music in person, you waste even more energy.

Now the study does not take into account the environmental impact of manufacturing the computers, routers and digital infrastructure that makes this all happen in the first place, but assuming that cost is already sunk, downloading is the “greener” way to acquire music.

So it looks like downloading music is better for the environment than any other means of acquisition to date. Now if we can only find a way to properly monetize that activity across the board, we all win, the artists, the infrastructure and the environment. Additional motivation for the ultimate solution of a music ecosystem that flows like water.

The teacup clattered quietly on its saucer, and McCartney thought about the changes he’d seen in the music world. “There were no cassette recorders” when he and Lennon first started writing songs, he noted. “We just had to remember it. Then suddenly there were cassettes, then we were working on four track instead of two track, then you got off tape, then you’ve got stereo — which we thought just made it twice as loud. We thought that was a really brilliant move.” After the Beatles came CDs, digital downloads and now video games. “I don’t really think there’s any difference. At the base of it all, there’s the song. At the base of it, there’s the music.”

And the future? “In 10 years’ time you’ll be standing there, and you will be Paul McCartney. You know that, don’t you?” He made a sound like a “Star Trek” transporter. “You’ll have a holographic case, and it will just encase you, and you will be Paul McCartney.” He paused and then said, “God knows what that will mean for me.” Then he added slyly, “I’ll be the guy on the original record.”

Excerpted from the NY Times “While My Guitar Gently Beeps“. A fantastic read on the making of “Rock Band: the Beatles”.

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.”

I did a radio show yesterday on NPR on the Future of Music along with Jeff Price from Tunecore and Tim Westergren from Pandora. You can listen to the show online here or download an MP3 of the show.

In a 2002 New York Times article, David Bowie said that “music itself is going to become like running water or electricity….it doesn’t matter if you think it’s exciting or not; it’s what is going to happen.” Now, seven years later, the music industry has continued its rapid metamorphosis. Often referred to as an industry in crisis, coming up Where We Live, we’ll be talking with writers and innovators who say the business of making music has never been better. Ignore the closed up Virgin MegaStore in cities across the country—listening to and making music is still big business. David Kusek, author of The Future of Music: Manifestor for the Digital Music Revolution joins us to talk about the new truths that govern the music world. Also, The founders of Pandora and TuneCore chime in and we’ll be joined in-studio by WNPR’s own Anthony Fantano. From the Connecticut Public Broadcasting Network.

“Alongside the explosive growth of online video over the last six years, time spent on social networks surpassed that for e-mail for the first time in February, signaling a paradigm shift in consumer engagement with the Internet.

According to a report released in April by Nielsen, Internet use for “short-tail” sites with large audience reach has evolved since 2003. The change is from portal-oriented sites, like shopping directories and Internet tools like Microsoft Passport, to social networks, YouTube and providers of niche content.

In November 2007, the video audience also exceeded the e-mail audience for the first time, and sites with long-form videos (averaging six to eight minutes) are showing much more growth and user time spent online than those with shorter videos.

Although Charles Buchwalter, senior vice president for research and analytics for Nielsen, said marketers had yet to master advertising on social media, he predicted that “over the next 12 months a model will emerge” that takes into account “the influence factor” of users who wield disproportionate power.”

From the New York Times.

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.

Kevin Kelly has written extensively on the need to create value around digital copies in order to create the revenue opportunities that are falling away every day for digital media. Here is an excerpt from his great essay “Better Than Free”.

Eight Generatives Better Than Free

Immediacy — Sooner or later you can find a free copy of whatever you want, but getting a copy delivered to your inbox the moment it is released — or even better, produced — by its creators is a generative asset. Many people go to movie theaters to see films on the opening night, where they will pay a hefty price to see a film that later will be available for free, or almost free, via rental or download. Hardcover books command a premium for their immediacy, disguised as a harder cover. First in line often commands an extra price for the same good. As a sellable quality, immediacy has many levels, including access to beta versions. Fans are brought into the generative process itself. Beta versions are often de-valued because they are incomplete, but they also possess generative qualities that can be sold. Immediacy is a relative term, which is why it is generative. It has to fit with the product and the audience. A blog has a different sense of time than a movie, or a car. But immediacy can be found in any media.

Personalization — A generic version of a concert recording may be free, but if you want a copy that has been tweaked to sound perfect in your particular living room — as if it were preformed in your room — you may be willing to pay a lot. The free copy of a book can be custom edited by the publishers to reflect your own previous reading background. A free movie you buy may be cut to reflect the rating you desire (no violence, dirty language okay). Aspirin is free, but aspirin tailored to your DNA is very expensive. As many have noted, personalization requires an ongoing conversation between the creator and consumer, artist and fan, producer and user. It is deeply generative because it is iterative and time consuming. You can’t copy the personalization that a relationship represents. Marketers call that “stickiness” because it means both sides of the relationship are stuck (invested) in this generative asset, and will be reluctant to switch and start over.

Interpretation — As the old joke goes: software, free. The manual, $10,000. But it’s no joke. A couple of high profile companies, like Red Hat, Apache, and others make their living doing exactly that. They provide paid support for free software. The copy of code, being mere bits, is free — and becomes valuable to you only through the support and guidance. I suspect a lot of genetic information will go this route. Right now getting your copy of your DNA is very expensive, but soon it won’t be. In fact, soon pharmaceutical companies will PAY you to get your genes sequence. So the copy of your sequence will be free, but the interpretation of what it means, what you can do about it, and how to use it — the manual for your genes so to speak — will be expensive.

Authenticity — You might be able to grab a key software application for free, but even if you don’t need a manual, you might like to be sure it is bug free, reliable, and warranted. You’ll pay for authenticity. There are nearly an infinite number of variations of the Grateful Dead jams around; buying an authentic version from the band itself will ensure you get the one you wanted. Or that it was indeed actually performed by the Dead. Artists have dealt with this problem for a long time. Graphic reproductions such as photographs and lithographs often come with the artist’s stamp of authenticity — a signature — to raise the price of the copy. Digital watermarks and other signature technology will not work as copy-protection schemes (copies are super-conducting liquids, remember?) but they can serve up the generative quality of authenticity for those who care.

Accessibility — Ownership often sucks. You have to keep your things tidy, up-to-date, and in the case of digital material, backed up. And in this mobile world, you have to carry it along with you. Many people, me included, will be happy to have others tend our “possessions” by subscribing to them. We’ll pay Acme Digital Warehouse to serve us any musical tune in the world, when and where we want it, as well as any movie, photo (ours or other photographers). Ditto for books and blogs. Acme backs everything up, pays the creators, and delivers us our desires. We can sip it from our phones, PDAs, laptops, big screens from where-ever. The fact that most of this material will be available free, if we want to tend it, back it up, keep adding to it, and organize it, will be less and less appealing as time goes on.

Embodiment — At its core the digital copy is without a body. You can take a free copy of a work and throw it on a screen. But perhaps you’d like to see it in hi-res on a huge screen? Maybe in 3D? PDFs are fine, but sometimes it is delicious to have the same words printed on bright white cottony paper, bound in leather. Feels so good. What about dwelling in your favorite (free) game with 35 others in the same room? There is no end to greater embodiment. Sure, the hi-res of today — which may draw ticket holders to a big theater — may migrate to your home theater tomorrow, but there will always be new insanely great display technology that consumers won’t have. Laser projection, holographic display, the holodeck itself! And nothing gets embodied as much as music in a live performance, with real bodies. The music is free; the bodily performance expensive. This formula is quickly becoming a common one for not only musicians, but even authors. The book is free; the bodily talk is expensive.

Patronage — It is my belief that audiences WANT to pay creators. Fans like to reward artists, musicians, authors and the like with the tokens of their appreciation, because it allows them to connect. But they will only pay if it is very easy to do, a reasonable amount, and they feel certain the money will directly benefit the creators. Radiohead’s recent high-profile experiment in letting fans pay them whatever they wished for a free copy is an excellent illustration of the power of patronage. The elusive, intangible connection that flows between appreciative fans and the artist is worth something. In Radiohead’s case it was about $5 per download. There are many other examples of the audience paying simply because it feels good.

Findability — Where as the previous generative qualities reside within creative digital works, findability is an asset that occurs at a higher level in the aggregate of many works. A zero price does not help direct attention to a work, and in fact may sometimes hinder it. But no matter what its price, a work has no value unless it is seen; unfound masterpieces are worthless. When there are millions of books, millions of songs, millions of films, millions of applications, millions of everything requesting our attention — and most of it free — being found is valuable.

The giant aggregators such as Amazon and Netflix make their living in part by helping the audience find works they love. They bring out the good news of the “long tail” phenomenon, which we all know, connects niche audiences with niche productions. But sadly, the long tail is only good news for the giant aggregators, and larger mid-level aggregators such as publishers, studios, and labels. The “long tail” is only lukewarm news to creators themselves. But since findability can really only happen at the systems level, creators need aggregators. This is why publishers, studios, and labels (PSL)will never disappear. They are not needed for distribution of the copies (the internet machine does that). Rather the PSL are needed for the distribution of the users’ attention back to the works. From an ocean of possibilities the PSL find, nurture and refine the work of creators that they believe fans will connect with. Other intermediates such as critics and reviewers also channel attention. Fans rely on this multi-level apparatus of findability to discover the works of worth out of the zillions produced. There is money to be made (indirectly for the creatives) by finding talent. For many years the paper publication TV Guide made more money than all of the 3 major TV networks it “guided” combined. The magazine guided and pointed viewers to the good stuff on the tube that week. Stuff, it is worth noting, that was free to the viewers. There is little doubt that besides the mega-aggregators, in the world of the free many PDLs will make money selling findability — in addition to the other generative qualities.

These eight qualities require a new skill set. Success in the free-copy world is not derived from the skills of distribution since the Great Copy Machine in the Sky takes care of that. Nor are legal skills surrounding Intellectual Property and Copyright very useful anymore. Nor are the skills of hoarding and scarcity. Rather, these new eight generatives demand an understanding of how abundance breeds a sharing mindset, how generosity is a business model, how vital it has become to cultivate and nurture qualities that can’t be replicated with a click of the mouse.

In short, the money in this networked economy does not follow the path of the copies. Rather it follows the path of attention, and attention has its own circuits.

Read more from Kevin Kelly here.

Another post from my co-author Gerd Leonhard.

“What are the new, web-native, social & inter-connected business models that will power the future of content creators and their industries?

In 2008, the disruptive force of the Internet finally hit home, and – as is usually the case – it all came much later than we had estimated but the disruption was also much bigger than expected. A quick look at some trends in this context:

* Newspaper revenues are seriously down (25% in some cases); and magazines and other print media are severely challenged, as well
* Digital music revenues are still going up, overall, but very very very far from enough to stop the free-fall of the recorded music industry, in general (approx 20%, globally, would be my estimate for 2008) *pennies for $$, see below
* DVD sales are declining, worldwide, prices are falling, too – and this will only accelerate next year
* Online video views and audiences are up a lot – but so far pretty much everybody has trouble making any real money with online video

“My hunch is that the Internet may well – and soon – bring us an utterly scary reduction of traditional content models that is somewhere in the neighborhood of 1:5, i.e. if you keep relying on the old ‘disconnected’ content revenues models you may eventually see only 1/5th of the financial returns that you had before. This could vary by industry, location and context, of course, but I would dare say that if you stick to your old models the future will be bleak, either way – and this goes for the actual creators but even much more so for the businesses that are build around them.

To me, the bottom line is that most of what used to work just fine in a disconnected world of ‘totally segregated consumers and producers’ will simply not work in the future.

This is why I think 2009 will be year of:

* Totally exploding consumer / user / fan / listener / viewer empowerment (yes, you ain’t seen nothing yet – wait until 2 Billion + people are wirelessly connected via increasingly smart and easy-to-use mobile devices)
* Re-inventing content commerce (such as: charge for access… not just units, bundle content into access, freemium etc)
* Re-evaluating copyright as that sacrosanct, sole, principal, or even main driver of revenue – the solution for what I like to call ‘digital payment-refusal’ aka piracy is not a technological issue but a business problem
* Re-inventing advertising (since new kinds of advertising will no doubt be one of the future drivers of content commerce, as well)
* Getting the telecoms and network operators aboard – for they can’t make it work without content, either!

I do have a hunch that this old Chinese proverb holds a part of the solution: “Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand.”

Read the whole thing from Gerd Leonhard here.

This guy is always so over the top, but he delivers the message.

“What happens when the labels stop paying an advance?

You know that’s gonna happen. With such limited revenue from recorded music, no one’s going to pay you a fortune to make it. There’s no incentive. Live Nation might pay you a fortune to TOUR, but who, in their right mind, is going to pay you a few hundred k when the only thing selling is singles? Hell, not one album released this year has yet gone PLATINUM! Do you expect Universal to be ponying up millions of dollars in the future?

Don’t be surprised if the major labels morph into management companies. In a way, they already have. That’s what a 360 deal is. That’s what the manager has ALWAYS had, a share in all revenue streams. You only get paid if there’s success. Are the majors going to follow this paradigm?

Of course, there could be a bidding war, generating large advances, but Live Nation/Ticketmaster is always going to win that one. Until the majors merge with a touring company, they’re fucked, they just don’t have enough to offer, their costs are too high, their margins too thin. If I were a major, I’d be calling Jerry and Arny, maybe even Seth right now. After calling Phil Anschutz, of course. In order to survive, labels have to play in the touring arena.

But the foregoing is all about money. Don’t you realize that’s what the album was about, money? That’s how you got paid, by delivering an album. Of course the public didn’t know this, but this was the game for eons. Sure, the Beatles made a STATEMENT with “Sgt. Pepper”, but Capitol was more interested in the revenue. Selling 33’s was much more profitable than selling 45’s. And the high-priced/low royalty CD was even more of a moneymaker than the LP record. That’s how we got here. Pure greed, not artistry.

If you want to record a full-length statement, be my guest. I see nothing wrong with that. But are you really interested in laying down ten tracks on wax if you’re not going to trigger a payment?

Please don’t be blinded by history. If your goal is to make money, and seemingly everybody e-mailing me is focused on bucks, how are you going to make money in the future? I’ll tell you. The public is your bank. And people don’t pay solely for recorded music, they may not pay for recorded music at all. How are you going to get paid?

By building an audience.

An album’s worth of material usually does not build an audience. A TRACK builds an audience. If you’re a career artist, people will want more tracks. But only if they’re good.

So the focus is no longer on cutting ten songs, but cutting GOOD songs! There’s an unlimited audience for GREAT songs. Still, how do you nurture your audience?

Playing every night in a single town is not going to build heat. You’ve got to go away for a while to increase demand. But you can’t go away for TOO LONG or you’ll be forgotten. Same deal with music. How do you deliver enough to keep people interested, but not too much to overload them?

DON’T tell me how much you love albums. That’s like labels saying no one will ever download music from the Internet. The album is history, you just don’t know it yet. STATEMENTS are not history, but are you really making a statement?

Innovate in the new sphere.

If U2 weren’t getting paid by Universal upon delivery of an album, they’d be better off releasing tracks in fits and starts. You get continuous publicity. AND, the way they just did it didn’t work, the album’s sales are small. Imagine going on Letterman EVERY MONTH, not for a week straight. BUILDING, instead of blowing your wad.

Imagine rewarding a fan who buys all ten tracks over the course of months. Maybe buying all ten delivers a code that allows you to purchase guaranteed good seats at the pre-sale. Maybe there’s a quiz regarding the content that allows people to qualify.

Maybe when you do that commercial endorsement, the reward is someone can go to the company’s Website and download YOUR NEW SONG! The insta-collection of ten tracks is no longer the starting point, rather you dole out your tracks in drips and drabs, making each release a minor marketing event, that keeps people interested, that keeps them going to the show.

If you’re a star, maybe you announce that you’re going to play the new track at the top of every show. And maybe then not again for a YEAR! So you’ve got to download to be familiar, and come if you want to hear it live. Don’t you see? Giving up the album delivers FREEDOM!

No one says a fan can’t create a playlist of ten tracks that he plays ad infinitum. Maybe the fan creates the album, and posts it to your Website, delineating why he picked this running order, imploring you to play these tracks in this order live. Hell, if the album were such a defined success, how come almost no act plays their latest opus straight through at a gig? BECAUSE ALMOST NO ONE CARES!

People don’t know the music. They want to hear some old stuff too. Just like you do when you make an iTunes playlist. You mix it up. Why shouldn’t the artist mix it up?

As for Record Store Day… How laughable is that. If you’re salivating over this, you’re living in 1990, and hoping we go back to 1970. Record stores are dead. As dead as your Apple II. Some will survive, as dealers in antiquities and tchotchkes, but essentially everyone will buy online.

Point being, how can you lambaste Doug Morris for missing the digital revolution when you too are stuck in the past?

People only want to hear good music. On demand. This has decimated radio. But the album went first. We’re just feeling the full effect now. And it’s only going to get worse.

Newspapers saw a crisis coming. But they figured it was always in the future. That crisis is now. Newspapers will probably not survive. I get three a day. But I know the paradigm is history. I lament the loss, but look forward to the future, wherein more people report upon more stories in a constant 24 hour news cycle.

You too should look to the future. Not one in which you deliver product to get paid by a middleman, but one in which you and your handlers are all in it together, and you build an audience fan by fan, which lasts. Toyotas were a joke in 1970. Now GM is a joke. Toyota built its brand based on reliability, word of which was spread slowly from mouth to mouth. Toyota took decades to surpass GM as the largest automobile company in the world, but GM will never regain the crown.

So don’t tell me about ancient paradigms. Please look to the future. It’s coming. It’s about great. Fans want more music by the acts they adore. Release all the live stuff, all the alternative versions. They don’t taint the original, they allow fans to burrow deeper, the revealing of all your warts burnishes your image!

We live in an information society. That’s what your fans want, information. They don’t want a CD dropped every few years with canned hype, they want continuous info. Don’t get locked into the album syndrome. You’re missing the future.”

– From The Lefsetz Letter

By Dave Kusek

I actually think the possibilities of making a living in art today are as good, or perhaps better, than ever before primarily because of the communication tools that we have online and the ability to develop relationships with the audience. I think the juice is in the do-it-yourself area of a sole-proprietor musician or a band or a writer on their own or with a publishing company, trying to figure out how they can penetrate the market, make a living, and break through the noise without all the traditional trappings, because all of that is pretty much gone for most people. The opportunity is really in the redefinition of how you go to market with music on a much smaller scale and develop a user base. That’s really where the action is.

From the recorded music side, the reality of the past 50 or 70 years is that a few percent of the people involved in recording ever made any real money off the records. Just a few percent! And if you made any money at all, it was through your songwriting or your touring or your merchandise, or something else that you came up with to provide you with a living. So on one hand, things are not all that different than they’ve ever been, in that you’re not going to make a ton of money making recordings and you never were. The reality is nobody is going to take care of you—you have to do it yourself or you have to form a small team around you to help.

We’ve just begun to scratch the surface of live, interactive experiences enabled by communications technologies—the smart phone, the internet, the broadband connections that we have—where you can create musical experiences between you and a relatively small group of people. Everyone is saying that the concert can’t be digitized, so at the moment that remains a reasonable way for people to make a living where the majority of your income comes from touring. And if you think about interactive experiences that can be created—virtual living room tours, behind the scenes events, having people participate in writing parties or creating music on the fly to suit the audience that you happen to be connected to—I think there are a number of wildcards in there where people have begun to experiment with mapping the live experience onto a communications network. There’s a long way to go there and there’s a lot of opportunity, especially as you see the iPhone and the Google phone and some of the devices from Nokia and others that are giving you video-enabled computers connected to the internet in the palm of your hand. That allows for the distribution of content at a very high level and interaction with your audience that you really never had before, on that one-to-one level or one-to-a-few level. And by making it mobile, you’re getting away from your fan having to be sitting at a desk in front of a computer. As people begin to write for that platform and that potential, I think we’ll see a lot of innovation.

And you can monetize that. I think people will pay for access to artists that they enjoy, and they will help support artists that they respect if they know that most, if not all, of the money is going directly to the artist rather than to the combine. If you have 5,000 fans willing to pay $20 a year for access to your music and the ability to participate and interact with you, there’s a nice pool of money for you to make a living off of. If that blows up to 100,000 people, you’ve got tremendous potential there.

What is your definition of success? That definition tends to be all over the place, but what do you need to sustain yourself in order to focus on your art fulltime? Can you live on $60,000 or $80,000 or $100,000? Probably. Can you make that kind of income writing music, performing regionally, licensing your music into various outlets? Yes, you can. If you focus on creating a career at that level, it’s entirely possible and many people are doing it using the tools that we have today. Instead of chasing the brass ring, you’re just basically trying to be a middle class artist making a middle class income. If you’re realistic about your expectations, you can make a living and spend most of your time focused on your art, whether it’s writing or performing or recording or drawing or painting of photography. It’s certainly possible—way more possible than being famous was ever going to be. You need to think through that because it’s really probably the only opportunity that most people are going to have in this environment—keep reasonable expectations and build up a little business around yourself that’s not grand scale but human scale.

One of the things that I think is holding a lot of this back is it’s very difficult to license music for global consumption. You’ve got to figure out who the rights holders are at every country, there’s often a publishing side and a recorded master side, there may be multiple writers, and the control that has dominated the industry for so long is holding us back. I think it’s something that people need to pay attention to: How can copyright law better serve artists in the digital age and what the digital age will bring?

The record companies have felt the pain of the changes in the marketplace ahead of the publishers. And you can see that the record companies are beginning to change their approach and they’re more willing to experiment because their revenue is down 50% and they’re absolutely scared to death. The publishers are following behind that curve and in my opinion are the larger road block in making deals than the record companies are. So having publishers look at their record company friends and what they’ve gone through and avoiding that is really key to remaining relevant.

With all of these interaction opportunities and non-traditional distribution opportunities, if we had better licensing, easier licensing, more transparent licensing, a more global approach, potentially everyone could make more money. If we stick to the laws the way they are and the sort of country-by-country rights, people who are in that camp will have a disadvantage against new artists who decide to open up their rights with a Creative Commons approach or perhaps another blanket licensing approach. If it becomes easier to license new music from new composers than it is the old composers, guess who’s going to win?

This interview with Dave Kusek originally appeared in New Music Box.

Here is a rather lengthy presentation on Trent Reznor and NIN and how they represent the future of music from TechDirt’s Mike Masnick. This case study outlines the experiments and business models being explored by this forward thinking artist.

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=4244922&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=1&show_portrait=0&color=&fullscreen=1

Leadership Music Digital Summit 2009 – Mike Masnick keynote address, 3/25/09 from Leadership Music Digital Summit on Vimeo.

Also here is a demo of the iPhone App that NIN has planned that Apple rejected today because it streams a song with profanity in it. Really Apple, get a life. This guy is one of the biggest innovators in music today and your process for getting Applications developed and approved for the iPhone need VAST improvement.

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=4021499&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=1&show_portrait=0&color=&fullscreen=1

NIN: Access iPhone app walkthrough with Trent Reznor, Rob Sheridan, and special guest Kevin Rose from Nine Inch Nails on Vimeo.

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.

Props to Dave Allen founder of Gang of Four for these suggestions below. Well considered (and annotated). I recommend that you do what he says.

“Humans are subconsciously moved by the emotion of music, it provides a link to their ancestry and to their tribes, it stirs not only positive but sometimes negative feelings linked to moments in time and is often steeped in nostalgia and memories. No other art form is ‘consumed’ as broadly and passionately as music on a daily basis around the world.

How music was delivered used to be in the hands of the few – bands, concert promoters, record companies and their retail distribution companies, radio, and video shows such as MTV. In tech-speak this system embraced ‘push’ – we the mighty and powerful will “provide you” [at a price determined by “us”] with access to our treasures when “we” feel like it. These days that system is rapidly breaking down as music fans now ‘pull’ what “they” want to listen to.

Control has moved from the few to the millions of many. Dull labels and dull bands offering dull, flat, non-experiential product – e.g. a CD, will go the way of the CD as it goes the way of the Dodo. Consider what Cirque Du Soleil provides as an experience compared to Barnum and Bailey’s circus. Or Burning Man compared to your average music festival. Even the Las Vegas Beatles-themed show ‘Across The Universe’ wipes the floor with most rock concerts these days.

Music fans are no longer patiently waiting for their favorite bands to deliver new music according to the old customary cycle – album, press release, video, radio, tour. No, the fan base has to be regularly and consistently engaged.

Some Ideas (for artists, managers and labels):

– First, communicate openly and ask your fans what they want from you

– Listen to what they have to say. Really listen

– Provide unique content such as early demos of new songs

– Never under estimate the power of a free MP3

– Forget completely the idea of an organizing principle (album). Invent a new one

– Use social media wisely. Twitter and Facebook Pages are best, MySpace is too cluttered

– Don’t push messages to your fans, have a two way interaction with them

– Invite them to share, join, support and build goodwill with you

– Scrap your web site and start a blog

– Remember to forget everything you know about the CD “business”

– Start to monetize the experience around your music

– Remember – the browser is the new iPod

Read more from Dave Allen here at his Pampelmoose Blog