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« Should you go digital-only, and skip the CD? | Main | How To Get From Full Time Day Job To Full Time Musician - Meet John Taglieri »

Could The TechCrunch Tablet Be The Final Nail In The Music Sales Coffin?

The tech world is buzzing today about the TechCrunch Tablet concept announced on TechCrunch this morning.  Regarding the music business, I have to ask two questions:

1)  Could the TechCrunch Tablet be the final nail in the music sales coffin?

TechCrunch speculates that a device like the one shown in the picture above, could be built for under $200.  Now, I realize that everyone has a mobile phone, so why is this different?  Why would this product be more disruptive to the music industry?  

Imagine every kid carrying one of these around in his or her backpack.  Full screen browsing!  Go to any music 2.0 site and interact with the full kit; not the watered down version you experience on a smart phone; you get it all: commenting, friends, music players, blogs, schedules, videos, sharing, streaming, etc.  What do you need to buy or own music for?  Moreover, this thing becomes another form of entertainment that subtracts from the pool of entertainment time you compete for.

2)  What can artists do to prepare for the day when everyone has something like this?

Music will not be your primary product; it will be a component of your brand.  Imagine your blog filling the screen above.  It’s imperative that you build your own brand, or become part of a boutique brand on the Internet.  To build the most value, you should do this under your own URL.  

One of the easiest and cleanest ways to build a branded blog under your own URL is with SquareSpace (powers this blog and my own).  Buy me a beer by clicking my SquareSpace referral link here.  Read this related post titled Communities Dominate Brands for more info on building your own brand on the Internet.

I read this great quote on Kevin Kelly’s blog: “You would starve to death in a field of wheat, if you had never heard of flour.”  Study the picture.  Learn how to make flour.



Reader Comments (13)

It seems to me that the iPod Touch is only a hop, skip and a jump away from pulling this off already (with exception to cost...but once someone begins to compete, Apple will be happy to take on the know they would)

July 22 | Unregistered CommenterMilton

Regardless of whether TechCrunch pulls this off or not, somebody will do this in the next few years. So, us musicians have to be ready for it. Ultimately, this will be the final straw in forcing music distro and promotion to go completely social.

What you say in Section 2 is spot on! Your music is going to be a part of your brand as a an artist. Your offerings will have to include much more than your songs, as you will have to provide value adds to your fans to give them a more engaging experience: videos, pics, blogs, ability to communicate, ability to remix songs, etc. And if you're clever, you'll figure out how to monetize these value adds because selling songs is going to be tough!

July 22 | Unregistered CommenterGavroche

Is techcrunch going to actually make this themselves or are they going to partner with somebody?

July 22 | Unregistered CommenterGavroche

Golly! Once everyone has a transistor radio, there'll be no reason for them to buy music. Pork cleansing product.(or hogwash, as we used to day)

July 22 | Unregistered CommenterMojo Bone

"Music will not be your primary product; it will be a component of your brand."

Back to form Bruce, nice work. I didn't see this one coming. Looks way better than a Kindle. Touchpad keyboard?

But wordpress pisses all over squarespace IMO. Wordpress is quickly becoming the standard. If it isn't already.

I had a boutique brand once. There are some serious pitfalls in dealing with other artists in this way. Now I run my own thing, the only problems I have belong to me.

Got a 7 part series on online promo rudiments up on my blog if anyone is keen. Cheers

July 23 | Unregistered CommenterMatt @ Kurb

I'm with Mojo Bone on this one.

If the CD is dead, why hasn't anyone at CDBaby noticed? Perhaps it's because they're selling more each year?

Well in the UK, the BPI (aka the major music industry), the government and ISPs have ironed out an agreement based on three strikes of file sharing and you are disconnected.

I have written an article on my blog which examines whether this bandaid is actually hitting the root cause of a lot of piracy.

The blog also has a video interview with Pim Betist the founder of

Be good to get your thoughts…


July 24 | Unregistered CommenterJakomi


That's like saying that Toyota is becoming the standard auto. Your statement does not make any sense.

Is see the comparison this way - WordPress is like a PC running Windows, and SquareSpace is like a Mac running OSX. People like what they use, and defend what they use in the silliest ways...

July 27 | Registered CommenterBruce Warila

More tools (toys) just means more ways to make whatever it is you make or do whatever it is you do. Yes the touch screen interface that can operate high end applications with the least latency will climb to the top. Yes the applications that make it easiest for each of us to do or create what we do will be utilized.

The bottom line (for the musician) always comes down to the music they are making, if they enjoy making it and if they can find the most efficient way to distribute it (no matter the platform)...Winning the battle lies in defeating obscurity.

All across the web there are blogs and comments / debates about the "best" way to make that happen. It still comes down to getting your "foot in the door". Elvis Costello does not have to concern himself with such things and neither do any of the other artists who have managed to stay around (sell music, concert tickets, etc.) for the last 10 to 20 years.

Technology just adds to the saturation in the music markets and really just concerning the "new" artists. Anyone by whatever means who manages to get their foot in the door and be heard by the right ears will find all the tools they need to succeed readily at their disposal.

Make great music, get it in the hands / ears of the right people by whatever means works and you will surely find success with or without a low latency touch screen. The "death" of this and the death of that is all relevant to your ability to make good music as much and maybe more so as your ability to make the right connections.

Almost every success story in music has a very important connection point...meaning that someone with clout heard something they liked (whether it be on a CD, at a show, on the Internet, etc.) and the rest becomes music history.

So I really don't think one tool or toy will change any of will just make for further saturation and a thicker blanket of obscurity to overcome. The best advice is to make great music and get it heard by whatever means possible...If that means "Data-Paks" or Interactive CD / DVD...all of it returns to talent and connections. (And to reiterate; connections almost more so.)

July 27 | Unregistered CommenterMilton

I agree with Milton. But not only does technological progress "thicken the blanket of obscurity," it also empowers artists to navigate, and maybe even overcome the very obscurity it is partially responsible for creating through the saturation resulting from greater and easier access.

An important point is that the technology that increases accessibility, and improves on user experiences, encourages people to participate. I'm not referring to the die hard music fan - but fence sitters, who historically lacked the motivation to seek out a music retailer and go through the trouble of finding music they like enough to buy.

Innovative technologies are making it easier for people to become active fans of music. So not only is the world getting more saturated with artists - it's getting more saturated with fans. Personally I don't fear technology (at least not the types discussed in this post), I embrace it.

July 30 | Unregistered CommenterJames Pew

I completely agree with the point James makes regarding "fence sitters". For the consumers these new technologies will definitely create a easier and faster access to the media they enjoy. In turn providing a faster growing fanbase for the musicians who create quality content (quality / beauty being in the eyes / hands of the beholder). I had never considered the glass half full aspect of the saturation idea as it applies to fans...being the saturation.

This will make it easier for the artists who do manage to distribute their works through useful channels to create a larger fanbase. The artists will still be fighting a never ending battle against the enormous amount of competitive content but the fan will have faster, more efficient access to choose from that content.

I too embrace the technology but I can not go so far as to say I embrace the plethora of excess content / competition...just the wonderful gadgets that make it easier for the fan (and yes, easier for me as an artist).

July 30 | Unregistered CommenterMilton

I'm with Mojo on this one -- why should this tablet be any more threatening than the iPhone? Sure, it's way fancier and probably much more powerful, but it's also a lot larger, which means you're only gonna be carrying it around with you at all times if you travel with a backpack or something of that ilk.

September 10 | Unregistered CommenterKyle Tierce

My opinion is that this device will be just another step on the road to a complete "communicator" device which can handle voice, email, web browsing and web 3.0 tasks as they are invented etc. Yes... Much like the iphone, which IMO is also just another step on this road.


September 16 | Unregistered CommenterTerry Weadock

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