The Futures of Music.
The music industry is often cited as the horror story that all other entertainment genres might learn from: how the digital era has laid waste to a traditional business model. But what new models for musicians and for the music industry exist in the wake of this paradigm shift, and what can other media industries learn from emerging models of content creation and circulation?
Moderator: Nancy Baym (Kansas University)
Panelists: Mike King (Berklee College of Music), João Brasil (Brazilian artist), Chuck Fromm (Worship Leader Media), Erin McKeown (musical artist and fellow with the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University) and Brian Whitman (The Echo Nest)
NB: Music has been facing challenges for a long time. I was at music trade show a few years, ago, record lable people were joking they were used to a financail crisis., They maybe have some things to team to people. So what kinds of models to distribute that you see has potentailk
BW: streaming services, how they are interacting with things, it is not just a list. there is apps around experiences, look at Bjork, would love to see people move away form jsut listening
CF: a report, IPTI, with 400 new services. Record companies have lost about half their sales, from $12b close to $4b, they have felt it The biz is distribution, that generates income, Music has gone into that first, way ahead of creative culture, books, other kinds, 2-3 5 distribution, IN music 45-52% of allmusic sales will be digital this year, that is a huge change in business model, you are not telling a story, you are selling 99c song.
JB: it is rare to listen to full album. With electronic, you share music, you have closed groups, producers share things, they promote etc, it can spread and play all over the world.
NB: a distribition model of closed groups of producers. Bjork apps are a whole epxerience around an album though…
EM: would like ot propose we can learn a lot from Local Food Movement. Distribution and stories, will go find with people who grow my vegetables, we can do the same things with music, about thinking about relationships.
MK: I like that idea, to continue on with that, Music it is not a single product, a cd, moving into a era to offer what your ocmmunity want, you don’t have to offer what is available in retail, I saw casettes being sold in a music shop in NY, they serve their Hipster community, Heard on NPR, lables do away with CDs in 2012. it is about offereing what fans want
CF: Concorde bought McArtnety cataglog, released Band on the RUn in 3 formats, plus vinyl. With a book, give complete experience, what they want
NB: think about survey about how musicians make money
EM\: The future of music coalition, to connect policy worls with music world, 10 years old. Being working on net neutrality, public perfoamance rights. etc. Theyw ant data, so have asked about how musicians make money. Will do interviews, will do deeper case studies. Revenue streams get complicated and arcane, lots of strewams. Most musicians may be gross most money from live shows, but not net.
NB: funding, how about that? where to get money to build an audience
MK: nuanced, everyone different. Some, at a certain level, catalog ticking along, get revenuw to make new from old songs. Kickstarter can do this. PLedgemusic takes it do a different level, they are a platform, and get people together to start things. If you look at what a lable does, distribution, markeitng , finding. Distribution is now sinple, marketing is difficult, fiunding is even more tricky
CF:Capital is important, both knowledge and cash. Talking about commercial music. The impact of piracy has been on the lables, that has dried up the cash and capital. There is philanthropy..people want things to be created. I had an investor put up money (a christian hymnal) because of what it was
BW: it is easier for a new artist to get noticed, there is so much available, and everyone os working on getting ways to find things
JB: started singing, littel band and peopel started inviting me to come along as a DJ. A big buzz like that in Brazil, DJs. all over. Got rid of band, wanted ot produce music I wanted. I make it really cheap, with computer, download and put them together, make mashups, Put up blog in 2010, made 1 masshup a day, people thought was crazy. Started get invites to play all over the world.
EM: another story to get money, first record came out in 2000, had lable deal with money. now trying to work in new way. I feel that I had to scale down before i could scale up again. I’ve tried to get all my masters back. I have 4/7 back, the last 3 for a while. I out some time to get paid for music that I have made. getting soundexchange set up, getting royalties etc, then that is budget for next 2 records making. Budget was based on how much I could back from records I had sold. DO it with the scale of what you have, So get your house in orde, make it small, make it efficient
MK: Brian mentioned, marketing has become easier. Not sure I agree. The ability to get on net is easier, to have visbility. But martketing harder as everyone can do it. Popel say they’re on Twitter, FB, so where ar eh sales. It is the best practices about hwo to use the tools
NB: Nobody knows what is going on, so many models, how is this happening, Is there best practices emerging?
CF: You can look at the present, see islands of health and strength, like the model Erin is talking about. Int he 90s the lables re-purposed the content, they went to CD. So buying past work to remediate is a smart concept. There is all the noise, need to find ways to get above the noise.
EM: so JB, he mashes up, what about the rights issues?
JB: no…when I do the blog, always promote the original artist…it is common sense. A lot of Brazillian artists came and thnaks me. It was abig thing for them., collaboration, people aske dfor mashups. But no rights for anything,,
CF: digital has thrown it into the nascent state of the digital movement. Labels are gunning for pirates etc but there are new structures being developed around digital. The negative is hsaring, but it is a good marketing strategy…
NB: Brian can you speak about the Econest..it is aggregating data,using machine learning, what is the role of metrics and data
BW: we try and collect all the information on web automatically, we read blog, we see things being posted, we follow mentions. We power music discuvery services out there. Musci should not just be data, look at it blindly. A lot of what the data use is doing is bristly for me (an ex-dj), i love being able to find stuff based on me etc, there are things that are worthwhile…i want to avoid the bad stuff
MK: I worked at a lable, i know the data we looked at to direct campagns, was archaic, from soundscan, pres,s radio etc, then direct campaign after the fact. But no in realtime, musicians can see in realtime how sites and sounds are doing. So next big sounds, looks at where artists being mentioned, look at trends, compare to artits. Data is important, one of the greatest things for musicians if you can use it.
BW: think that is more important for listener…to help discover stuff. I don;’t want artists to be statiscians.
EM: agree data is important., But sometimes it is wrong, and the process to make it right is not easy. So I want to put myself in shazaam and I can’t fix it, don’t know where it pulled from. Lets look at process of cleaning it and what if wrong. As a musician, I don’t want to look at metrics all day, but I also think that touches a little bit on myth, that i want to dispel, that oyu can;t be creative when looking at numbers. That’s the myth that musicians don’t know what is going on. Agree that listener data is good, but also good for musicians
BW: the whole reason we created echoprint is opemn verison of Shazaam, I got as angry when my own music was not in Shazzaam, to control data
CF: it is ironic that we talk about data, when the music is now data. I know engineers that are recording in analogue and putting out in hi res form. Nothing is real anywhere, it is all tools and data. You lose that sense of warmth from analogue..
MK: there is a difference beteen casual and hardcore. The replacement cycle, was not made because of superior sound, but it was convenience.,
CF: convenience is about customer value, it is not quality, in terms of sound. It is about how convenient it is to get and use.Music have been doing things with licensing to make it convenient toget
NB: question, backchannle, will music be free, with revenue from other sources.
JB: Spotify is a model. Zappa said it earlier, like a utility, you pay a fixed fee.
NB: but is the revenue too low.
JB: but the money from touring..does she bother too much about royalties?
EM: Wont’ hate on spotify, it is marketing tool not a revneue source…spotify is not useful for revenue, you need things set up around it
MK: you can go diferent ways. YOu have to have all of your other things happening as well, I was trying to find music, and I could not from this band..need to get the rest of the stuff in order
EM: chart showing how much you need to do for sources to make minimum wage. Need to sell 143 selfpressed CDs and 4 million + spotify plays
CF: the question of digital era, who pays for content. That investment indevelopment, where from. The lables, they added a lot of value in terms of development. Those have been stripped away, A&R not ness working for lable now. Content is not free..there is a lot of good folk content out there, anyone can make, but for professional development, that is not free. Levine has new book, Valled Free Ride, gets at nub of issue thinking of content
EM: so food is not free, there is a system around it. There will be a system around music industry for value to be in there
NB: does a 1000 true fans work; you heard about skimmers, dippers and divers. Different types of fans. Because musicians are narratives, does that group work, what is the balance of those different groups?
MK: you have to think about all of those different peopel, It makes sense to be on the streams, you get these curious people, then sell off own sitem si sell for all levels of fans. There are lot of people talking about the 1000 true fans model…you are serving lots of groups, you get the passer bys who get the song then otehrs who want the social objects, with a higher margin
BW: but where are the skimmers coming from? that’s what I am thinking about
CF: lables have become licensors. the business is becoming licencing agregators. You need to know who is agregating, how to get the licencing. That’s part of the new capital today
JB: the fan is heart, the crowd has to love you. You have to make this fanbase..burn own, sell to them. you can be like that for rest of life..
NB: iErin, is your career sustained by core?
EM: i have strength or problem if each record being diferent from last. I am sustained from a small group of people who follow me, my career would be different if I could make the same record over and over again. I do beleive in 1000 true fan model. I’m going to build that relationship…I would like to pull people into that, I make sure I take care of the people around me, I communicate with them. Sustained by people who follow my story, my personality.
NB: questions about food metaphor
EM: about the relatinship, goign to store, knowing the choices
NB: (video about Techno Brego movement)
JB: one thing about that video, the parties that are made, they are isolated geograpically, so Lady Gaga would have to do a techno braga release to be known., If a mix is not done, then artists have no chance.
CF: Gospel music, church music, When singing in church, the congrations pay a feee, geneating $30m a year. Larger churches etc, all have communities in practice, have artist in resident programmes, they need the band players. CCLI started as no song books needed with overhead projectors etc
NB: do you look at global flows?
BW: yes, we look at music, we look iusage across all areas, the flow of sharing, we geotag
NB: are there diffferences in different parts of the owrld
MK: yes, different channels, eg CDs in Puerto Rico, in other places, CDs are marketing, it is all about the live events. SE Asia is similar to that,
NB: raises questons about how artists can find audiences in different places. SO Kings of COnvenience have international success..are there other examples of niches…
MK: I like hte idea of musicians, thinking about values, psychographics and determine outlets based on this. like a brand thing
BW: I see biz dev happening like this…eg restaurants wanting to come and find things that sounds like ‘x’ without paying the expensive licences etc…different ways of finding thigns with data
CF: a large part of discovery is audience finding artist, not the other way, There is acertain amount of patience on the behalf of the artist. So building the artist platform, to own real estate on web, mnake yourself discoverable., But more of a pull strategy than push.
NB: so is music showing up in weird places?
EM: Yes, I am a fan of the long tale. I used ot have a big audience in UK and ireland, not genre to genre, but not enoiugh to tour there, can keep them from internet though, seeding out that was/Book about spider and starfish, the power of decentralised networks. I can make my distributed fans happy…eg I can do live streams to fans around world.,
JB: I am only possible because of the global nature. Live in London, record label in Germany, from Brazil I am mashing up scenes…during my one year project I tried all srots of music in mashup., so brazillaim beats with things. It is changing how artists are interacting with themselves.
CF: oneof the great things has been about decentrealisation of creative development, away from Nashvilles, NY etc. We see a lot of that. My mag has been developing song writers in the round, we bring in songwriters, publishing representative…face to face, new poets etc get opportunity to talk, that is why still doing it, the artist, the music etc. That’s what we love.
NB: your point about it is the music..there was a tweet asking about focus on tools rather than quality…and there is point on board about autotune…so ask about decentralisation of music…is the quality degrading?
BW: no problem with kid in basement, he makes best he can. The whole point of that is I want more in the world. i want more, it’s not a finite resource
MK: it comes down to curation. (asks about Facebook and spotify etc). Facebook acts as a recommendation system for recommendation systems. it is OK, bur can be better. something liek facebook so I hear form trusted sources about what peopel listen to. I don’t agree there’s too much, it is hoe you find it
CF: I think there will be a backlash, that singers can’t sing without autotune. There is a need for artists to do music in realtime, that can play together to create. There will be an appetite for music. With digital you can make things perfect, but things will swing back to enjoyment of realtime and real art/. You see it with love performances and the appetite for it
EM: Don’t think there can be too much and dangerous about what is good, bad etc. Someone in a blog saying if you don’t make money from spotify, then music not good enough. That is dangerrous. You want to find music that speaks to you..ONe danger is about a large corporate that blocks out things, that constrains
NB: the saying about the music industry is dying makes me angry, It is not that, one particular form is that, but there are lots of music industries.
BW: there are plenty of opportunities. We have done deals with EMI and UNiversal, they are letting developers do things with their music, they get share of revenue, but new experiences are being made. Now you can experiement, as lables are working with people
EM: I am a fan of direct to fan platforms. I have used Cashmusic.org (and nimbit, topspin etc), they have good tools for musicians.
MK: Bandcamp, founded by Ethan Diamond. He saw difficulty in buying tracks for bamds., He saw the problem existed and did something about it. People from outside indutry are making big changes and making things
CF: the old model is dead…the heirarchies have been humbled..the democratisation of creative culture has been phenomenal because of these resources. Watch adn learn about the successful people. The lbales have leveled off, are consolidating
MK:In regards to lables, it depends, If you are top 40 artist, you need a lable…there was a band called Carmen, big on YT, they got signed to Sony..I watch them . They build up leverage and decide where to take the leverage. There are good lables, eg Merge, 50/50 split after expenses. I am a huge fan of direct to fan, but lables can be a postive thing
CF: you need the institution and the new stuff, opportunity for both
JB: in Europe, labels guarantee the type of the music, with electronic etc, but not in Brazil, no labels there
Q: one things that stands out, that is exciting, we have different types, eg technobraga, all very local. with the APIS etc, with distribution, you can create audiences outside of local. But music is finding the best solutions to distribute and get revenue..
CF: CD is free, but $20 for tshirt…
EM: can it be a girl in the basement for once? Also, put record out last Tuesday, on Tunecorp and on site, 2/3 of orders are for CDs This question about role of radio, it depends on what radio you listen to.
Q: Wondering about splintering of platforms for distribution,
BW: filtering, algorythms etc scare me as much,people need to care about it. Splintering will happen, but lots of opps. There are lots of people who care and who are making new stuff
NB: thoughts about itunes, apple?
EM: I make a good proportion from Itunes, it is very fair, I use Tunecorp to get on Apple
MK: it is one of the best models, to get revenue back. Eminem sued Universal about itunes, and he won. It was a licence deal, 50/50, so get more from it. They pay more,
CF: learning about the future from the past, Napster made the world OK for itunes. There are things being played out for the future as you watch the pirate things now
Q: been thinking about music journalism, about PR people who want money to get music out there, how will music journalism affect the artists
JB: it will keep ongoing…if not newspapers, then the blogs, People read the blogs to relate to understand. We are sometimes we are victims of them
CF: the jounalist tells the story, gets the narrative out there, otherwise it is just an artefct. There is ahunger for the narrative
Thanks for this, Rachel !