Dave Kusek, the author of The Future of Music, is a man who needs no introduction but just in case you don’t already know him he’s Vice President at Berklee College of Music and he is responsible for managing the online music school, Berkleemusic.com. He also recently launched a new service that helps musicians empower themselves called, Music Power Network.
Since he is a prolific blogger, futurist and strategist, I wanted to ask him his opinion about some of the hottest buzzwords in the Music Business Today: The Cloud, Topspin, Hype Machine, SoundCloud the death of MySpace,
Ariel: OK Dave, here’s how this will work. I am going to throw some one-sentence statements at you pertaining to the music industry. I’d like you to state whether you think each statement is true or false, and then provide an explanation for your choice.
Dave: Sounds good. Shoot…
Ariel: “The Cloud” will change the way we think about music ownership.
Dave: True. I think it’s all about access rather than ownership; that is truer every day, as there is now much more music in the market. Just knowing what is out there is a challenge. It is going to become more important to find music and listen to it than it is to “own” it.
Just look at SXSW. There are 2 or 3 thousand bands playing. There is no easy way to figure out which ones I really want to go to listen to. I am counting on recommendations from my friends and buzz in the media to help pick what I should listen to. That is true at SXSW and also true on a daily basis. Knowing what to listen to is more important than having it in your collection. That is becoming more true every day.
There are lots of people currently working on this challenge. Someone is going to find a really slick way to find music that we are truly interested in, and that software will become invaluable.
The Echo Nest is getting close. They are combining what people are talking about on the public web, with purchase data and behavioral data. They are also providing a very sophisticated musical analysis of the songs and relating that to the social graph.
I am really looking forward to what they and other similar companies are going to come up with.
Ariel: MySpace is dead. It will never return to prominence.
Dave: True…probably. The reason that I hesitate is because they are well capitalized, massive, and known for music. There is a bunch of smart people still working there, so I wouldn’t write them off completely; but it’s probably true. People are so interested in new things that MySpace will be eclipsed by something that we probably haven’t seen yet.
Ariel: All the hype around Topspin is deserved.
Dave: True, but it’s not about Topspin it’s about direct-to-fan marketing tools. Topspin just happen to be doing a really good job of creating buzz and their software is really extraordinary. But it is the idea of direct-to-fan that is really compelling.
I don’t know if it’s possible for any one company to provide all of the necessary tools that you will need. Just look at what Peter Gotcher, the financial guy behind Topspin, did as the founder of Protools. That software has been a staple in the audio industry since it’s creation, but it’s certainly not the only audio tool that anyone would use. Most people combine Protools with Reason, Ableton, Cakewalk, Waves and other programs to complete the suite of tools they use to create music.
The same is going to be true with the new generation of direct marketing software being developed. I also think about Salesforce from the corporate sector. Salesforce is customer relationship management software used by thousands of companies to help manage their user bases. Topspin is not all that different. If you are using Salesforce in your business, you are most likely using other tools along with it to track your sales and engage with your customers.
Ariel: If you are not a cool, indie rock band, you can’t approach Hype Machine bloggers.
Dave: Hmm…that’s more false than true.
The reason I say that is bands can waste incredible amounts of time and energy trying to promote themselves when their music sucks. With Music Power Network (MPN), we are encouraging bands focus on their art and to find good managers and marketing people, so they can concentrate on making great music, practicing, writing, touring, etc.
To go to Hype Machine to try and build buzz is probably a waste of time. If your music is wonderful, people are going to know about it and spread the word.
So I think it is way more important to practice, write great songs, and develop your craft than it is to try and generate buzz. If you don’t have great music, you aren’t going anywhere. And if your music is truly great, people are going to spread the word for you.
Ariel: SoundCloud is the best possible way to move music around the Internet.
Dave: At the moment, true. They are the YouTube of audio and are making it easy. I love the way their system is open. You can tap into their API and link SoundCloud into your own application and website. That is how they are going to grow their importance.
If they stay focused on just delivering audio, SoundCloud could become ubiquitous. If they try to compete with the people who are supporting them, it will get problematic. If they just work hard to be the very best at storing, streaming and accessing audio, they will do very well. It’s a great service.
Ariel: Having engaged fans, followers, and friends are more important than “press” coverage.
Dave: Sure we just talked about this. Great music is more important than anything. If you are great, people will find you and many will know about you. It really is that simple. You will have 1,000 fans, then 10,000 fans, and so on because you are great. If you are writing music that people can relate to, you will find an audience. Great music will lead to all the press coverage, and word of mouth promotion and a huge fanbase.
If you get press coverage and you suck, it won’t do much. It may make your mother happy, but that’s not the name of the game.
Hang With Dave Online:
His Blog: http://www.futureofmusicbook.com
About Dave’s Music Power Network: Music Power Network (MPN) is a dynamic, interactive service for working musicians, producers and business people. Unlike the book, it is constantly updated with new content and resources that reflect the changing marketplace. Instead of reading a book and then deciding how to use the information, MPN provides online lessons, video interviews, a large and growing database of resources and other online tools for people seeking to have a successful career in the music industry today. Whether you are a band, indie label, songwriter, artist management company, production company, or other music business, MPN provides a toolkit that you can custom tailor specifically to your needs.