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Entries by Andrew Dubber (20)


Human Music Interaction

In my now part-time day job as a professor at Birmingham City University, I wrote an article on the research centre’s blog, in which I referred to a new field of research that I’m helping develop. It bridges computer science, cultural studies, media theory, musicology, medicine, psychology, sociology and more. That probably takes a little explaining. Interdisciplinarity is not, in itself, a field of research.

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How to solve Royalty Collection Societies

This is a repost of something I published earlier today on my personal blog. Normally, I don’t like to repost stuff - but it kind of occurred to me that this is probably where I should have blogged it in the first place… :)

Performance Rights Organisations pay composers when their work is broadcast or otherwise performed in public. And rightly so. But making sure that everyone gets paid fairly is difficult to ensure - particularly when you consider how much data you’d need to track in order to be entirely accurate.

I think there’s another way.

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The measurable music industry, as described by Britain's Chief Measurer of Music Industry

Last month, I recorded a video of PRS Chief Economist Will Page delivering his State of the Music Industry address at a Born to Be Wide event in Edinburgh. This is a video that has done the rounds, and Will has been somewhat floored by the response it has received.

This video has been shown in the corporate boardrooms of major record labels, Google, the collection societies - and has been republished by Techdirt, Hypebot and Digital Media Wire.

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3 Timeless Steps to Music Business Success

There’s a simple truth at the heart of the music business. It’s the key to success in music marketing and retail as well as to gig promotion, media coverage, buzz and, most importantly, the sale of music online and off.

It has been true since the beginning of the recorded music business and it is still true today. It stands, unscathed by the world wide web, impervious to the sands of time.

It’s a simple 3-step principle, and it is at the heart of all music business success.

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No, do it NOW

If there is one thing I can say with absolute certainty about using your computer it’s this: IT WILL FAIL.

Duplicate all of your files and put them somewhere safe. Off-site backup is an ideal solution. Homes and offices get burgled, damaged or burned to the ground. Your insurance company will not be helpful in this regard. Get all of your music files, all of your business documents and all of your photos and make sure that if the worst happened to your computer(s)… you would at least be able to cope.

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Some good, old-fashioned advice

Last night, I had a really good Skype chat with Bruce Warila, and along the way, we started talking about some of our old blog posts. I hadn’t read any of my old stuff in ages. Pretty much since I wrote it actually, and I thought I’d have a flick through and see if there was anything interesting there.

I’ve been blogging since 2002, but I started specifically blogging about independent music business online back in August 2006 when I started New Music Strategies.

This was the first post I wrote - and while it’s a little dated (three and a half years is a long time on the internet), I think there’s some value in having another look at it. It’s essentially about looking for people that might be interested in your music, but in contexts that are not music-focused.

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Right sort of rage, wrong machine

You may be aware that last week’s UK number one single was Rage Against The Machine’s ‘Killing In The Name’. It was a pretty big deal, and it prevented what otherwise would have inevitably been the surefire ‘X’-mas number 1 from reaching that spot.

X, in this instance, standing for X-Factor.

The campaign was started on Facebook, which is an interesting story in itself, and you could possibly do a fascinating case study in online activism and social media around that very point. That’s not what this blog post is about, but it’s worth a mention.

There was a lot of noise made about the RATM campaign. Some people said it was wonderful, because it kicked against the corporate nonsense that the Christmas charts had turned into. Others said it was a shame, because it stole the rightful place at the top of the charts from a young lad who had earned it fair and square in plain view of the British public.

And another bunch of people said that the whole exercise, while well-meaning, and coming from the right anti-corporate perspective, was essentially flawed and pointless. After all, Rage Against The Machine is a Sony artist, just like young whatsisname who ‘won’ that TV contest. And so any protest centred around a chart battle between those two artists simply filled the coffers of the people who stood to gain had nobody done anything.

Personally, I disagree. With everyone.

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9 out of 10 dentists

I’ve read two very interesting related articles this week. The first suggested that people who download music via peer-to-peer services spend more money on music than their non-filesharing peers. The second insisted that the net drop in CD and download sales overall has increased concurrent with, and as a result of filesharing.

It’s difficult to argue with either, since they’re both backed by respectable-seeming research and surveys - and yet they can’t possibly both be true. Until you realise the fundamental logical flaws in both positions: the presupposition that unauthorised downloading of music has a causal effect - indeed, is the only causal factor - on the fortunes of the music business.

Clearly, as soon as you take a step back and think about it logically, so-called ‘piracy’ cannot possibly be anything more than one of a whole range of factors affecting the music industry as a whole, simply because the world is a complicated place and people are complex and interesting. There are political, economic, social, cultural and technological factors all influencing the industry’s affairs - and it stands to reason that different influencing factors are pulling in all sorts of different directions.

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Happy 'Quit MySpace' Day

Everyone uses MySpace - because everyone else uses MySpace.

But the site fails to recognise or make use of the fact that they have what could well be the greatest asset on the internet: EVERY FRICKIN’ BAND ON THE PLANET.

We all have our complaints and issues with MySpace. It isn’t all it could be - and while it’s improving in increments, it’s not good enough. This article is a call to arms. It’s time for a revolution. Either they start doing independent music right - or we ALL walk.

Let’s give them one year - then we’re gone. Here’s why.

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EMI is screwed. Utterly screwed.

An article on All Things Digital caught my eye this morning. At face value, it’s just another one of those reports about people coming and going at the top end of the major record labels. Douglas Merrill, formerly CIO of Google, then Head of Digital for EMI, has left the building.

And it’s not surprising that Merrill was unable to singlehandedly reverse the fortunes of the label. He could have had the greatest strategy in the world - but the end goal was the wrong one, so his efforts would have been to no avail regardless of what he did.

And it’s this line from the internal memo at EMI that gives the game away:

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Mickey Mouse logic

Let me see if I’ve got this right.

A grocery store sells potatoes. Makes their living by providing a regular supply of potatoes to hungry customers. Trouble is, some of those customers use those potatoes to make potato prints of Mickey Mouse. Disney’s response is to make an agreement with grocery stores to limit the supply of potatoes to customers and possibly stop selling them altogether.

“Dear repeat potato print offenders - you continue to make infringing potato prints of Mickey Mouse and other lovable characters. Doing so steals from the creators of these lovable characters, funds terrorism, and means that these lovable characters will no longer be able to have hilarious adventures. So no more potatoes for you. Stop giving us money immediately.”

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Who says what now?

Cory Doctorow. He’s from the EFF and he’s here to help. Agree? Y/N
Image via Wikimedia Commons under a CC Licence

Yesterday, I sort of took Jupiter Research analyst Mark Mulligan to task about some fairly sloppy thinking. I did it on a blog of mine that almost nobody reads (sort of a scrapbook of things I note as interesting in passing), rather than in a major public forum like Music Think Tank, or on my own New Music Strategies site - because actually, it didn’t seem that important.

I wasn’t out to start anything - just kinda making notes.

Mulligan himself has painted the feedback he got as something of a firestorm, and has offered to host the raging debate he expects to ensue online at his personal blog. That’s fine. I recommend that strategy to you. Pick a fight, and then make sure you’re the destination where that dispute takes place.

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If music was sport

Just for fun, here’s a thought experiment. It illustrates that things in the world of music (and the business of music) need not necessarily be configured the way they are…

If music was treated like sport:

  • Schools would have plenty of equipment and kids would have places to play and practice
  • People who didn’t do any music at all would be considered a bit lazy by their peers
  • Professional musicians wouldn’t get asked by their parents when they were going to get a real job
  • Most people would play music and almost none of them would expect money for it
  • Every weekend, you’d get a televised battle of the bands

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