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« An Introduction to the Self-Released Album | Main | 5 Easy Steps To Making Your Dreams Come True »
Friday
May062011

The New Music Industry is Not Coming

We can all stop waiting for the “new music industry” to arrive.  The new music industry is not coming, it is here already.  The only thing that will change is change.  New models reshaping the way music is marketed and distributed will continue to change the landscape, and there will be many.  Right now we have an emergence of abundance within the music industry. There are countless new artists emerging and the same goes for the ways of consuming those artists.  This will not change; the emergence will continue to evolve as humans will continue to evolve.  With that being said, there will be a shaping and weeding out process.  The shaping and weeding out process will define which artists and which models work best for you individually, the consumer.  The process of definition for the music consumer will cross all boundaries including race, gender, and age.  I would like to include money, but I can’t help but to imagine the rich kid who only wants to see their favorite artist live, so they pay for live shows whenever they decide to.

The music industry of yesterday consisted of great control.  If one could just control the few available key aspects, they could and have controlled the market.  Distribution in the days of music consumption yesterday consisted of record stores.    This is something that I am very fond of, as I remember being a kid working in my grandfather’s record store in Northern New Jersey.  I remember the days of going to one-stops in Brooklyn early Saturday mornings and rushing back to New Jersey to make it in time for opening.  The distribution dollars still led back to the same few places.  Huge media conglomerates controlled distribution channels and consumption channels through radio, tv, and later on portable devices.  This took MAJOR funding.  It was unthinkable to go against these conglomerates in this state of the music industry.  The costs of producing, distributing, and marketing a record were extremely expensive.  Even if you had the funding to produce a record, marketing and distribution channels were still tied up with the large media conglomerates.

With the emergence of new music technology, the scope has broadened on all levels.  Technology has made way for new opportunities, thus creating new models.  The internet has eliminated a lot of past costs within the music industry; this goes for the way music is recorded, the format of music, the marketing, and especially the distribution outlets.  New models have taken away the control aspect.  A child can be born, grow up developing their musical talent, gather people who can assist in the process, record an album, market that album, distribute that album, get paid, and repeat the process over and over without ever dealing with a record label for their entire career.  And that’s just the basic capability of an artist operating in today’s music industry.

Right now we are looking at three entities that are battling in the “Who’s Going to Shape the Music Industry Showdown.”  None of these entities are record labels; in fact they are all technology companies.  They are Apple, Amazon, and Google.  Does this spell doom for major record labels, I doubt it, but who knows?  That’s the beauty of the current state of the music industry.  It is imploded with an unforeseen greatness of potential.  In the coming days, we will see artists partner with entities that we never would have imagined, in fact it’s happening now!  Incredibly amazing talents that we never would have heard of in the days of yesterday now have a shot.  Sure there will be lesser talents also with opportunities, but if you don’t want to listen to them DON’T.  You now have that power in today’s world.  The control of the experience has returned to the user, where it should have and always be.  So has the music industry changed from what we once known?  YES, and it will continue to change, but you will hold the reigns.  Follow the technology at your own discretion.  The new music industry is here, and from the looks of it, the new music industry will always be here.  

 

 

About the author:  Taurean Casey is a Co-Founder of Music Assistant Now.

Reader Comments (16)

Very well put! As a musician, active for about 15 years I welcome the changes. I like the idea of having full control over my work. It's fair. It's freedom.

Interesting post!

The one key thing about the 'new music industry' I think is that artists are going to have to think of different ways to make money. Selling recorded music is outmoded, pretty much. So what now?

The other thing' is that, with reduced barriers to entry (ie it is now very cheap and easy to record, release and distribute music) comes a massive increase in competition and a general lowering in quality. So artists need some way to hold themselves apart from it in some ways.

The sum total of this is that it is still tough to 'make it' in music, and it still requires creativity, persistence and excellence. So in one way you could say that nothing has changed!

That was a sick blog, everything in it is so true. I like the perspective of now being the new music people are, or were waiting for I should say. As an independent hip hop artist, my hat goes off to the technology I have access to as a independent artist. Like you said in the blog, an artist can be as proactive in their careers as much as possible in this day and age. I love having the ability to work with major record labels for digital distribution, being able to promote myself how I want, as well I can stay in my creative lane. For example, I have a new track released through Interscope records called The J Wildd Show, which is a 24 minute 34 second hip hop verse I turned into a cartoon! The hip hop verse tells the story to the cartoon, I realize there is no limit I have to how I get promoted, if I'm promoting myself! I just wanted to say again great article, and I wanted to shout out anybody putting in that work for their own careers! Stop by, and check out the cartoon J Wildd!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u07raGbC7eY&feature=related

May 6 | Unregistered CommenterJ Wildd

The structure behind the music industry is too complex. Collecting societies, music publishers, managers and record companies, they all seem to profit from the artists. The internet is an inspiring marketing environment for new and promising artists. They even can manage their own music copyright, by using Creative Commons licenses or set their own conditions at VillaMusicRights.

May 6 | Unregistered Commenteroxana

Very succinct. I would just add that it is still a marketing dollars game. In the bustling market, it is still the loudest messages with the greatest persistence and presence that turn people's attention - and that still takes big Old World dollars and is still successful in shaping market desires. Also if you could just explain that last item from this passage: "A child can be born, grow up developing their musical talent, gather people who can assist in the process, record an album, market that album, distribute that album, get paid..." Okay, and just how in this era of "free music for all" does one "get paid"? Yes, I'm kidding around -- but only a little. Great post. Thanks.

May 6 | Unregistered CommenterLord Jim

Thanks for this great post.

The business has always been challenging for musicians and that certainly hasn’t changed. The big difference is that today the central revenue stream is no longer recorded music sales and the role of the major labels is shifting dramatically. The broadcast channels that created a Michael Jackson are no longer the heart of the industry. We are in the middle of a huge shift and musicians are entrepreneurs more than ever before. People love music and connecting with that passion is where new opportunities are being created.

We're a new model trying to "reshape" the music industry just a little. Open to new, emerging or (fiercely) independent artists only:

www.musyck.com.

We are in BETA stage.

May 6 | Unregistered CommenterSam Mendez

@PROPER-Padma Have you checked out 1000 True Fans? http://bit.ly/2PQqaE


@J Wildd Thank you. I will check out your youtube link and be in touch. Independence = Freedom

@Lord Jim Marketing does play a key role, but we are also in a time of growing authenticity. Once you found an artist that you truly like, does their marketing really mean anything to you? Also for how to make money as an indie artist, I suggest Amanda Palmer.

No question that music marketing has reached a level of "outside the box" doesn't even come close to where we should have already ventured.

Blowing up the proverbial box and re-engineering Frankenstein might be the only route of success for the future by combining existing services like Amazon, iTunes and eventually Spotify if the market ever allows a US debut with free sites like bandcamp and socialize it all together in one big mashup facespace of inter networked sites and hope for the best!

Then again bands could just continue to give it all away for free and completely devalue the marketplace. Don't get me wrong, not any fault of bands that do it's just the "state of the music" in real time created by lots and lots of hungry listeners who have grown accustomed to freebie sounds thanks to good ole' Napster's glory haze.

At any rate, enjoyed the post @Taurean Casey and I dig Amanda Palmer as an artist/indie marketer as well!

May 7 | Unregistered CommenterMac James

@oxana - It is definitely a self-interest based industry. But the artist will always need the help of professionals - either a person or an online service. Like we like to say, let the musicians create their music - that's their mission in life.

@Sam - Interesting looking beta site. Maybe you should check out our own beta site at nogeno.com. Contact me if interested.

Great article - love the discussion arising from it.
Anyone think that the audience has changed and is more willing to seek the new music and wave off the big label's storefront?

The gist of which is: three, new massive, global companies now have a controlling stake in the music biz.

Having established the principle of free music, forever, these three companies have, indeed, changed the way things are.

Musicians, as well as having to support googlamazapple now have to support an ever enlarging industry of 'advisors' who trot out the same old balls, citing the same exceptions and unproved business models.

'Sigh'.

May 8 | Registered CommenterTim London

Well said, Tim!

There's a big glaring mistake in the article, in two sentences that are right next to each other.

"Even if you had the funding to produce a record, marketing and distribution channels were still tied up with the large media conglomerates."

And

"With the emergence of new music technology, the scope has broadened on all levels."

No, the scope has not broadened on all levels. It has broadened on the PRODUCTION and DISTRIBUTION levels. It has not, to a comparable degree, expanded on the PROMOTIONAL level. This is major, because music without promotion is the tree that falls in the forest without being heard. You can argue that someone made a sound, but you damn well didn't hear note one.

I agree that the New Music Industry is not coming. Things "are what they are." But lets not fool ourselves into thinking that what things are is some big messy experiment in industry democratization. Its not - half the industry (production) has democratized and the other half (promotion) has just stayed relatively the same.

Why this disconnect? Simple, because production and distribution technology markets itself to artists and wants to be used by as many artists as possible (Think digital recording equipment, microphone manufacturers, Reverbnation, Bandcamp, TuneCore). But artists are still marketing themselves to the gatekeepers of promotion - whether that means trying to get a booking agency, a write-up in a notable publication, or a TV spot. And the number of opportunities on the promo front really hasn't increased all that much.

Oh sure, there are blogs and Pandora and whatnot, but those institutions still do not compete with TV, Radio, and well-funded headlining concerts. Only a handful of blogs and publications have a readership capable of breaking an artist, and they're inundated with requests.

Listeners have more choices than they used to, but since those choices remain tied to what they are aware of (what is promoted to them), promoters still hold the keys when it comes to determining which artists get big and which don't.

May 9 | Unregistered CommenterJustin

" It was unthinkable to go against these conglomerates in this state of the music industry."

Ever hear of SST? Touch N Go? Dischord? Flipside?

Labels that changed youth culture through music tastes, and gave us art
that superior in almost every way to the "conglomerate" music.

"The costs of producing, distributing, and marketing a record were extremely expensive."

Beck's Flipside LP cost $842.

Meat Puppets II, cost $940

Replacements, Sorry/Trash, $1800

Husker Du, did no spend more than $3k until Candy Apple Grey

I could give 450 more examples, easy.

" Even if you had the funding to produce a record, marketing and distribution channels were still tied up with the large media conglomerates."

Sorta true, but it took less than 10 years to form a viable alternative distribution system.

"The internet has eliminated a lot of past costs within the music industry; this goes for the way music is recorded, the format of music, the marketing, and especially the distribution outlets."

It has eliminated a lot of income that used to serve the creative community. Hordes of them. That income was redirected to copyright
infringers and unauthorized distributors. So the creative community was bilked.

"New models have taken away the control aspect. A child can be born, grow up developing their musical talent, gather people who can assist in the process, record an album, market that album, distribute that album, get paid, and repeat the process over and over without ever dealing with a record label for their entire career. And that’s just the basic capability of an artist operating in today’s music industry."

Give me 12 examples where this "capability" has produced financial independence.

I will come back with 1,000,000 examples of shite music being littered around the web.

An artist should create. A few rare ones can administer. Righteous Babe comes to mind. B/t/w, Ani pulled this off in the old paradigm. Today, her odds of success would be stacked against her. File sharing
would have prevented her launch and her ability to sustain.

Look at Brian Jonestown Massacre. Anton used labels to handle the dirty grind while he experimented w/ writing, different line ups, different studios, and then touring - could he have built his career without someone serving as the label?

Is this the sort of artist that would have gained a foothold without "old" media propping him up? Film. Records. Press. Tour/Albums.

"In the coming days, we will see artists partner with entities that we never would have imagined, in fact it’s happening now! "

Name 12.

I'll show you 1,000 that are mere examples of what has always been.

"Incredibly amazing talents that we never would have heard of in the days of yesterday now have a shot."

Did you hear about Nirvana before Geffen?

Did you hear about Sonic Youth?

Did you hear Dino Jr?

Did you hear Soundgarden?

I did. They got a shot because some passionate freak with an interest
in taking art to the world invested HIS OWN MONEY. HIS OWN TIME.

No compromises were sought. None were given.

Is that true today?

Please, listen to today's music. It's shoddy, it's shallow, it's pablum.

Any band worth a shit today would have been given the same opportunities in period 1965-1995.

"The control of the experience has returned to the user, where it should have and always be."

This is drivel. The user always has had control. I could choose what records I wanted to purchase, share, spin, and promote to others.
I could choose to listen to what I wanted, almost anytime I wanted.

Yes, technology has given the joy of "on demand" access.

And what do most of us access?

Look at youtube. Most huge plays belong to bands from the old paradigm.

May 9 | Unregistered Commenterjinx

Thank you jinx, that was perfect!

May 10 | Unregistered CommenterBob

When new technology FORCES change, there will always be backlash to that change. This is not something new. Those who are able to adapt, evolve. Those who aren't will never see the glory of it.

@Jinx Some of your comments to those quotes clearly show that you're missing the points.

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