Posts Tagged ‘future of music’

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Music, tech, and culture roundup

September 18, 2009

canadianMusicWikipedia

Colbert Report to stream albums. The Flaming Lips were on the The Colbert Report on Wednesday night, and the Mountain Goats (whoo!) are scheduled to be guests in a couple of weeks. More interesting, though, is that both artists will be streaming their albums, before the official release dates, on the Colbert website.  Here’s hoping it leads to new fans and bigger sales. [via Underwire]

Canadian music wiki. Journalism student and CBC Radio 3 intern Amanda Ash is working on putting together a Wikipedia-style database of Canadian music as her thesis project, tapping into CanCon-loving music fans (whence the awesome illo, above).  She’s soliciting ideas – go help her out.

Another fun online musical toy. In the same vein as the online Tenori-On, there’s a web-based musical instrument, Nudge, with a range of sounds and tempos. If you come up with something you like, you can embed it in your blog or share it with your friends. Warning: making pretty melodies is quite the timesuck. [via Indie Music Tech].

There and back again. Over at the New Yorker, Sasha Frere-Jones has a thoughtful profile of Trent Reznor, tracing his journey from indie, to major label, to indie again.

What does filesharing mean for composers? Lyricist and composer Björn Ulvaeus (sound familiar? argues that musicians can ‘sing for their supper,’ but songwriters can’t, and they might end up the big losers with declining music sales. This probably explain why composers and songwriters are trying to get a cut from 30-second song previews on iTunes.

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Read: Fans, Friends and Followers

July 2, 2009

FFF cover

Fans, Friends and Followers: Building an Audience and a Creative Career in the Digital Age is a new e-book by Cambridge-based Scott Kirsner. He’s been writing, speaking, and connecting people involved in the uptake and spread of innovations for many years, including a column in the Boston Globe (together with its  companion blog), and he also writes regularly on music and technology for Variety.

Fans, Friends and Followers focuses on creators and artists that are thriving in the age of digital distribution, and what can be learned from them. While there are framing chapters which pull out some of the important themes, the heart of the book is a series of creator interviews, which are fascinating reads, showcasing as they do the wide variety of stories, approaches and goals of the artists. These case studies span a wide range of fields, including documentary filmmaker Curt Ellis, comedian and writer Eugene Mirman, and zed equals zee fave Jonathan Coulton.

Scott Kirsner was kind enough to answer some questions about the book for zed equals zee:

So, one of the themes that I took from the book is the ‘let a thousand flowers bloom’ approach – that there is a diversity of ways to use the Internet to share your creative efforts. Anything that you think is an absolute necessity? Anything that you would recommend against?

One thing that’s a necessity: carving out the time and the energy to spend cultivating your fan base, and communicating with fans. There should definitely be a dedicated person in any band who’s responsible for audience-building (that’s a term I like better than “marketing”), or maybe someone you know who isn’t in the band but really understands the Web and social media well. I think in the 20th century, your label took care of all that stuff. In the 21st century, it’s your responsibility. One thing I recommend against is building a super-fancy, expensive, Flash-heavy Web site that no one can update except for the original designer. I can’t tell you how many bands do that — and the result is that fans visit your Web site once or twice, but never come back because it never changes. (And people assume that because your last gig listed is in 2007 that you must have broken up!) Even if you have a bare-bones MySpace page or blog, it’s better to have something you can continually add content to than something better-looking that stays static.

Another of the themes is what I call ‘hookers and taxicabs, not limos and supermodels,‘ after the scene in the movie Hard Core Logo – that the age of the gigantic arena-filling star may be over. What do you think the biggest a native-to-the-Internet artist can get? Do you think that the definition of success has changed, and if so, how?

I do think we’ll eventually see Internet-driven artists playing arenas and stadiums. Today, there are lots who are playing pretty big clubs or opening in bigger venues. To me, the definition of success is making a living without having to work a day job, and more importantly, making the kind of music you want to make — contributing something unique to the world — rather than compromising your vision. All of the artists I interview in Fans, Friends & Followers are doing that. Few are jillionaires (yet), but most have more creative freedom than artists who are signed to labels, which is really important.

On a related note…while I’m happy about seeing entertainment dollars go to more artists, do you think that the pie can be sliced too thin? Do you think it’s harder or easier for an individual artist to make a living?

I think it’s getting easier for individual artists to make a living, and perhaps harder for artists to wind up on the Forbes list of the world’s wealthiest people. But to me, there’s a cultural and societal benefit to having more people (rather than fewer) earning a living making music or movies, writing books, or engaging in any kind of artistic endeavor.  [debcha’s note: Sing it, brother!]

What was the most unlikely or counterintuitive story in your book or from your research?

One of the bands I use as a case study is OK Go. I love the fact that their homemade videos for “Here It Goes Again” (featuring them dancing on treadmills) and “A Million Ways” (featuring them dancing in someone’s backyard) have probably been seen by more people on YouTube than any videos their label made for them. And those videos basically had no budget at all — just the cost of a videotape. Damian Kulash, OK Go’s lead singer, told me that their online success really has built their reputation globally much more than anything their label has done. When they went to Taiwan, a country where their record hadn’t been released, they were headliners. In Korea, where they opened for the Chemical Brothers, thousands of people knew the words to all of their songs. What made the videos successful, Kulash says in the book, were that “they didn’t bear the stamps of this kind of top-down marketing push. They were very clearly homemade.” (Though eventually they were shown on MTV.)

There are a number of visual artists interviewed in Fans, Friends and Followers. Unlike music and video, which are considered to be low culture, success in art has been more about critical approbation (inclusion in curated shows or collections) rather than about popular appeal. Do you think that the art world is changing in response to the rise of the Internet? If so, how?

I think there are two groups of artists today (and maybe there have always been.) Those who want acceptance by the art establishment probably are finding that the Internet doesn’t really help them much. But those who want to make a living — whether you are a fine artist, graphic designer, cartoonist, or illustrator — can be hugely helped by understanding digital tools and strategies. I do believe the Web will help launch the next Keith Haring or Jean-Michel Basquiat, and I think the art establishment is going to have to pay attention to that.

Any final thoughts?

I think there’s a pendulum shift happening that everyone has to acknowledge, whether you’re a writer or indie filmmaker or musician. In the old world, you could spend 90 percent of your time on your creative work, and just 10 percent promoting it. In the new world, I think the split is going to be more like 70/30, or even 60/40. Rather than gritting your teeth or complaining about the time it takes to cultivate a fan base, I think the best approach is to figure out how to make the marketing and promotion part of your art — don’t feel like you’re selling out somehow — and enjoy it. Artists like Andy Warhol and Frank Zappa and David Bowie and Frank Lloyd Wright and Ernest Hemingway were (and are) all great self-promoters, too.

Check out a 35-page preview of Fans, Friends and Followers here, or buy the full book here. Also, check out (or contribute to) this wiki, which collects all the online tools listed in the book and more.

MP3: OK Go – Letterbox (They Might Be Giants cover) [buy]

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Music and tech roundup, part 2

June 17, 2009

sympathiestotheband

Part 2 of this week’s music and tech roundup (part 1 is here).

The 10 Commandments of Music 2.0… Hypebot’s concise list of how to engage your followers as an artist. Our fave is #3: “Thou Shalt Giveaway Free Music – Like Jesus and the loaf of bread, give your flock a gift that multiplies as they pass it around.”

…which Trent Reznor is no longer following. The pioneer of social media in music bails, citing the preponderance of jerks and trolls and haters on the Internet. Ironically, this might be a case where being a ‘legacy’ musician (ie pre-dating social media) may be a detriment, not an asset; Reznor’s take on the situation is that some of his fans are upset that the real, Twittering Reznor doesn’t match their long-held image of him.

Why people buy music. A survey of a thousand or so customers at independent music stores revealed a couple of interesting things: one, friends were the biggest influencers of music purchase. The second was that 65% of music store shoppers spent less than 10% of their music spending on digital purchases, which strongly suggests that they are a distinctive subset of the music-buying public (via @pampelmoose).

Virgin Media and Universal team up to offer unlimited downloads for a flat rate. Gizmodo reports that the record label and cable company are set to offer a new subscription service that will let you either stream or download (as DRM-free MP3s) as much music as you want for £10-15. It seems pretty steep for music from a single label, but it’s an interesting experiment (thanks, @mchangolin!)

[Image: The Crowd at a Rock Show on Subnormality; click for larger image]

Thou Shalt Giveaway Free Music – Like Jesus and the loaf of bread, give your flock a gift that multiplies as they pass it around.
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Another round-up of SF MusicTech

June 9, 2009

SF MusicTech audience

Jason Feinberg, writing for PBS’s MediaShift website, just posted a good summary of the SanFran MusicTech Summit. He hit the nail on the head as to what made it an engaging conference:

The tired meme that holds the industry screwed up by not embracing Napster in 1999 may be true, but after 10 years the discussion needs to move forward….The panel discussions were focused on specific actions we can take to boost revenue, enhance fan engagement, foster social network interaction, and evaluate digital delivery options, as well as talk of how artists can take active roles in their (digital) careers. … I found the focus at each panel to be on working solutions, data that has shown results, and fostering discussions between opposing viewpoints.

Read more of what he has to say about some specific panel discussions here.

(Thanks to Simon Owens for the heads-up!)

Image credit: Julie Blaustein

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“Music industry must change the record”

June 4, 2009

uncased cds

Technology artist and writer Victor Keegan has a column in The Guardian, in which he makes some interesting points about 2008 music sales:

In the last quarter of 2008, album sales in the UK were – wait for it – 0.9% up on the previous year, when the economy contracted by 1.5%. And UK royalties for songwriters rose 8% in 2008. Recession? What recession? Overall album sales, which some had predicted would collapse by more than 10% in 2008, fell by only 3.25%, while digital albums rose by 65%. And the singles market? Why, 2008 was the biggest year on record in terms of units sold across all formats…Indeed, if there had been no publicity about illegal downloads then, on the published evidence, the music industry is one that has been doing remarkably well during the recession.

He also touches on a number of other points, such as the industry’s efforts to extend copyright terms and that innovation in music marketing and sales seems to be almost entirely from outside the music industry, namechecking Spotify and Nokia. Read the full article here.

Image:  It’s those home-burned CDs again, ready for disposal by Flickr user Trevor Coultart, reposted here under its Creative Commons license.

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The future is what it used to be

May 28, 2009

momus

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before:

Imagine Elvis never happened. Imagine Elvis Presley recording all his music for a dollar in the little booth where he cut that first 78 for his mother’s birthday. And imagine a music industry which, instead of investing in a single massive star called Elvis, distributed ten thousand stars, all recording for a dollar, in totally different styles, all appealing to small, highly self-conscious cults in a fragmented society. A society in a state of fabulous confusion, exploding into fragments. Our society, now.

Sound familiar? That text is from an essay, titled “Pop Stars? Nein Danke!” by famously eccentric Scottish musician Momus (pictured). And it was written almost two decades ago (in 1991). As that quote demonstrates, it’s an astonishingly prescient essay; in fact, I stumbled on it while I was trying to find the earliest use of the phrase, “In the future, everyone will be famous for fifteen people.”

A bit more to whet your appetite:

The feeling I get when I walk into a record shop is not that there is a battle of titans ‘clashing for the number one spot’. That is the model of the old monopoly capitalism. Entering a record shop now, a good one like Tower or the Virgin Megastore, is like standing in C.S. Lewis’s Wood Between the Worlds, where you can pick a pond and enter one of an infinite number of worlds at different stages of their evolution….

…To stay sane, to stay plausible, pop artists must drop their claims to universal stardom. Let’s abandon the nostalgia, let’s drop the rhetoric, let’s restructure the music industry. We now have a democratic technology, a technology which can help us all to produce and consume the new, ‘unpopular’ pop musics, each perfectly customised to our elective cults.

Now go and read the whole essay. And by the way, music industry? Don’t tell us that nobody saw it coming.

MP3: The 6ths – As You Turn To Go (feat. Momus) [buy]

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Upcoming: SanFran MusicTech Summit

May 11, 2009

hotel kabuki

Next Monday, May 18th is the SanFran MusicTech Summit, and it’s shaping up to be pretty interesting. Speakers include Dave Allen (of Pampelmoose), Terry McBride of Nettwerk (who gets around), and Fred Von Lohmann of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, with panels on social networking, digital delivery, monetization (with the description, ‘idealism in practice,’ which sounds promising), and more. It’s at the Hotel Kabuki in Japantown, and full conference and registration details are here. I’ll be heading down to SF for the weekend, and there’ll be a report-out on z=z. If there’s something you are particularly interested in hearing about, let me know in the comments and I’ll do my best.

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Music and tech news roundup

April 27, 2009

denon-turntable

Catching up on the miscellany of music and tech happenings around the Interwebs…

‘Pirates’ are the biggest music buyers. A new study out of a business school in Norway suggests that people who downloaded music off P2P services bought ten times more music legally (downloads and CDs) than their non-P2P-using counterparts. This corroborates a 2006 Canadian study that found the same thing. Needless to say, record companies are disputing the findings. [via Ars Technica]

New turntable outputs MP3s directly to USB. Vinyl-lovers, rejoice! Denon’s new DP-200USB turntable (pictured) outputs MP3s directly to a USB thumbdrive, and the included software analyses the first 15 seconds of each song to match against the Gracenote database and automatically get the metadata. [via Cool Hunting]

How to find music on Twitter: If you’re a dedicated Twitter user and music lover, Wired has a terrific roundup of all the different music services that interface with the microblogging service. But I think the single best piece of advice is this, “[O]nce you find a like-minded fan on the network, you can follow their feed.”

Help build better music recommenders by rating playlists! Luke Barrington, a researcher at UCSD, is soliciting the help of people like you to evaluate playlists generating by a variety of means (like artist similarity vs tag similarity). You’re presented with a ‘seed song’ and two short playlists which  you can listen to, and then you can decide which one fits the initial song better. It’s fun and you get help scientists out. Take the survey here. [via Music Machinery]

22 000 words of EULA to put an iTunes song on your iPhone. I saw this in a tweet by Cory Doctorow (“Informed consent my ass.”), and did a bit of digging. Jason Schultz is the director of the Samuelson Law, Technology and Public Policy Clinic at UC Berkeley, and was at the Federal Trade Commission’s conference on DRM in Seattle last week. A deputy director of the FTC warned the industry that they need to stop hiding restrictions in the unreadable fine print of end-user licensing agreements.

MP3: AC Newman – Take On Me (A-Ha cover)

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Trent Reznor on the future of music

April 15, 2009

nin-janes

Trent Reznor, always a man to call it like he sees it, gives great interview to the Guardian. The NIN iPhone app went live last night, and Reznor uses the occasion of its release to share his thoughts:

People are going to steal your music whether you like it or not; it’s out there, it’s free… You’re never going to make a lot of money selling records like you used to, that’s a fact. It’s over… Record labels do not know how to deal with the new media environment that they’re confronted with. They’ve made their fortunes selling plastic discs and now no one wants to buy plastic discs – they’re just trying to get their fingers in every other pie, but they’re so greedy and ignorant they’re not prepared to do what they have to do… All we’re trying to do is make something cool. Something that as a fan you’d say, ‘Hey, I want to have that’. If we can monetise it, then that’s fine, no problem.

You can read the full Guardian article on iPhone apps here, and the Wired Underwire blog has a great article on what  Reznor has done since leaving his label 18 months ago, including releasing music under Creative Commons licenses to encourage sharing and remixing, as well as harnessing social networking to create a fan community. It’s well worth the read.

MP3: Nine Inch Nails – Discipline [download/buy]

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Upcoming: music and tech conferences

March 25, 2009

sfmt0208

Two upcoming conferences that might be of interest to z=z readers, one on each coast.

This weekend (March 27th, and 28th), Berklee College of Music is hosting the Music and Entertainment Educators Association conference. Unsurprisingly, given its audience, the schedule is a mixture of industry panels—keynotes on “The New Entertainment Economy” and on “Marketing and Distribution in the Digital World,” for example—as well as academic talks (such as “Audio Mashups and Fair Use: The Nature of the Genre, Recontextualization, and the Degree of Transformation”). The speakers include executives from Sonicbids, Topspin and Electronic Arts. You can see a full schedule here [PDF], and you can register at the conference website.

On the other coast, the San Francisco Music Tech Summit is scheduled for May 18th at the Hotel Kabuki in Japantown. Scheduled speakers include Dave Allen (of Pampelmoose and Gang of Four), the founder of Pandora, the director of technology of Sub Pop, and more.  Again, you can register at the conference site, here.

If you can’t make either, never fear – keep an eye out for z=z reports from both conferences.

MP3: Girl Talk – Bounce That [buy]

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128 or 320 kbps – can you hear the difference?

March 11, 2009

audacity

Okay, we are going to do a quasi-scientific study here with the z=z community, to see if people can hear the difference between 128 kbps and 320 kbps audio streams. Go to mp3 or not, listen to the two sound samples, decide—or guess—which one is at the higher bitrate, and then post your results in the comments, along with any ancillary information (like whether you used speakers or headphones). I couldn’t tell the two samples apart, at least not on my laptop speakers, but I had a 50-50 shot at getting it right, and I did. Let’s see if we can get enough numbers to exclude (or confirm) randomness.

UPDATE (Friday, 10:23 am PDT): We are up to 6 people who got it right and 5 people who got it wrong. I’d love to get some more datapoints. Please share this link and ask people to comment or to send me an e-mail or a tweet.

UPDATE (Friday, 10:49 am PDT): A poll! This is much easier. If you’ve already responded in the comments, please do not vote in the poll.

[via Music Machinery]

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So does iTunes license or distribute music?

March 11, 2009

eminem

One of the reasons I’m not a huge fan of iTunes is because of the discrepancy between how they treat music for the purpose of the consumer and the artist. Regular iTunes music is ‘licensed,’ not sold, to consumers – that’s why you can’t play it on unauthorized computers (this doesn’t apply to the DRM-free iTunes Plus). However, from the point of view of the royalties they pay to artists and labels, they are considered to be a distributor – iTunes pays the same royalty rate as Wal-Mart (about 12%), and not the higher royalty rate that is normally paid for music that is licensed from the label.

This discrepancy got put to the test last week, albeit in an indirect way. Mark and Jeff Bass, of F.B.T. Productions, worked on some early Eminem albums, including The Real Slim Shady. Last week, they went to court in Los Angeles, suing Interscope (a division of Universal) for unpaid royalties. Their argument was that iTunes and other digital music services were the equivalent of manufacturers, receiving a digital ‘master’ and making copies for distribution.  Rather than the 12% royalty, therefore, the artists should be receiving a royalty of 50% – the basis for the argument that they were underpaid.

Well, the jury didn’t buy it. They sided with Interscope and the argument that digital downloads are the modern equivalent of the 45, and that artists should be compensated at the lower rate.

More details at Ars Technica and the LA Times.

MP3: Eminem – My Name Is [buy]

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♬.ws: music search engine for Twitter

March 10, 2009

musebin1

There’s a new music-related-service for Twitter, ♬.ws. The basic premise is that you can enter the name of a band, and you’ll get a page with info on the band, a listing of relevant tweets, and links to iTunes, Amazon MP3s, and Musebin (a website of one-line music reviews and, not incidentally, the creators of ♬.ws). But the big advantage to the memorable-but-annoying domain name is a very short URL for your query, which can be embedded directly into a tweet (in lieu of a hashtag, for example).

I beta-tested it with two z=z faves, The Motion Sick and Logan 5 and the Runners. The Motion Sick worked pretty well, with only one nausea-related false positive. I was less successful with L5R; their album name, Featurette, hit lots of non-music-related tweets.

It’s an interesting concept, but I think it still needs some work. It’d be great if it also gave website and Myspace pages for the artists. And I hope they redesign the results page – I’d happily trade the 18-pt type and ugly Roman font for more tweets on a page and something more legible.

MP3: The Motion Sick – Winged Bicycle [more]

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Tiered pricing for music

March 2, 2009

wkapWhy should all your fans pay the same amount and get the same thing? We’ve talked about name-your-own-price merchandise in the context of establishing and maintaining a relationship with your fans. Here’s the other side of it: tiered pricing for music and merchandise.

I’m a huge fan of The National. I own all their CDs and bought their DVD. In the last few years, I’ve seen them in concert in Montreal, Boston (two nights in a row), and New York, and I brought people with me to all the concerts. I just bought the benefit CD Dark Was the Night, largely because it was curated by Aaron and Bryce Dessner. And, well, that’s kind of the best I can do for them.

In contrast, Amanda Palmer and Nine Inch Nails both released albums that came with a wide range of extras and a corresponding range of prices. And Josh Freese is taking tiered pricing to its logical extreme, ranging from $7 for a digital download of his album to a $75,000 package that includes him joining your band (or being your personal assistant) for a month, a five-song EP written and recorded just for you, one of his drumsets, and more.  For all of these artists, what you choose to pay is therefore a combination of what you can afford, how appealing each package is to you, and how much you want to support the artist. In the days of distribution via physical outlets, this wouldn’t have been an option—there would simply be no way to make sure that the right mix of regular and premium versions would go to any given record store. With direct distribution, however, matching up a fan, a pricepoint, and a package is no problem.

While it’s not a very romantic image, it’s not dissimilar to what airlines do: they maximize their revenue by selling economy-class seats  at wide range of prices (ranging from full-price, walk-up seats to ultra-discounted seats sold through consolidators), which reflects what the purchaser is willing to pay. There are a couple of crucial differences, of course: one is that all of the seats are basically the same – once you’re on the plane, no one cares how much you paid for your seat, and the people who paid full price for their tickets don’t get anything extra. More importantly, in the context of art and artists, is that paying more money is not really reflective of a relationship. Much as I prefer JetBlue to its competitors, I’m not going to volunteer to pay extra for my seat to help support the airline. I would, however, pay for extra goodies to support an artist that I really like. And apparently, I’m not alone – the Who Killed Amanda Palmer? package that I wanted sold out while I was in a meeting that coincided with the preorder page going live (argh!), and Nine Inch Nail’s $300 Ultra-Deluxe Limited Edition of Ghosts I-IV sold out in 72 hours.

MP3: Amanda Palmer – Leeds United [buy]

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Experiment: name-your-own-price merch

February 17, 2009

merch-table

Should you let your fans pay what they want for merch? Dave Allen, the original bassist of the Gang of Four, recently made the argument on his music blog that bands can make more money by not posting prices at merch tables and instead letting fans name their own price for merchandise at concerts:

My thinking here is that those fans that really like the band and are leaning towards buying will ask what the price of a CD is. And the answer should be “how much do you want to pay?” I guarantee that the answer will be somewhat along these lines – “I only have $4,” “I’d like to give you $10,” “You guys were great, here’s $20,” “I have no money.” You should sell your CD at those prices to all of those folks and give one to the guy with no money. They will never forget the experience they had and they will tell their friends that you are the coolest band on earth for doing that.

Allen argues that, on average, bands are likely to make more money doing this than by having fixed prices. More importantly, however, this approach either leverages an existing relationship (people who have money are happy to give the band more than the ‘official’ cost of the CD) or it helps develop a relationship. Here at z=z, we recently discussed the role of relationships in differentiating artists in a world where the music itself may be fungible.

While I’m not a musician, I know that a number of artists read this blog – please let us know what you think. And if you decide to try this, please share how it works out!

How bands can make more money by not putting a price on a CD

MP3: Electric Laser People – Move Right, Move Left [buy, CC-licensed download]

Image: From behind the merch table by Flickr user Brett L., reposted here under its Creative Commons license.

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Some new models for music

February 12, 2009

dcfc-iphone-app

A couple of bands that are using technology in interesting ways…

Groove Armada is making waves with a new model of music distribution. They left Sony last year, and are now in a deal with Bacardi, of all people. Their plan is to reward people for sharing music. You go register at the site (attesting that you’re of legal drinking age, of course), download your first free track, and get a unique link to share with your friends.  As more people get and share the song using your link, you are rewarded by being able to download more songs. I have to admit that I’m less interested in downloading the music than I am in seeing a data visualization of the number, timing, and distribution of how the links spread… (Why yes, I am a nerd.)

Pitchfork is making a big deal about Death Cab for Cutie‘s setting a ‘solid precedent‘ with the band’s new, free iPhone app – I guess they are too hip to have noticed that Pink got there first. Listening Post had a great article last October, in which they make a compelling case that the iPhone could be the new Myspace. It’s pretty clear that cultivating a relationship with fans is going to be a key element of differentiation between bands. Cory Doctorow talks about this in the context of authors, but it’s equally applicable to music:

But what kind of artist thrives on the Internet? Those who can establish a personal relationship with their readers…[who have] the ability to conduct their online selves [in a way] that establishes a non-substitutable relationship with their audiences. You might find a film, a game, and a book to be equally useful diversions on a slow afternoon, but if the novel’s author is a pal of yours, that’s the one you’ll pick. It’s a competitive advantage that can’t be beat.

Putting a direct link to your band in your fans’ pockets seems like a good step forward in establishing this relationship.

MP3: Groove Armada – Chicago [buy]

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The future of vinyl?

February 2, 2009

Diesel Sweeties on Vinyl

[click image for full-size version at Diesel Sweeties]

So, in the comments to a previous post, there was a brief discussion on the future of vinyl records. Aaron char Manders quoted the CEO of Newbury Comics as describing vinyl as a ‘novelty,’ a description which suggests a certain transience.

Here’s a couple of starting points for discussion:

  1. In the world of electronic music, long a stronghold for vinyl, there is a steady movement towards digital music – so much so that next Friday, there’s an underground party in San Francisco billed as ‘Nothing But Vinyl’ and featuring Sammy Dee and Marc Schneider.
  2. If you look at the top ten vinyl sellers last year, there is a solid mix of old (Abbey Road, Dark Side of the Moon), new (In Rainbows, Fleet Foxes, and Portishead’s Third), and, notably,  indie classic In the Aeroplane Over the Sea by Neutral Milk Hotel.

Given that vinyl is currently, as Aaron memorably put it, ‘an unassuming pimple on the large, albeit slimming, butt of CDs,’ will vinyl remain a viable, if niche, medium indefinitely? Or is this the faddish last gasp of popularity before vinyl fades forever? I’d be interested in arguments on both sides – what do we think?

MP3: Neutral Milk Hotel – Holland, 1945 [buy]

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Emerging models for new music: Illius Rock

January 26, 2009

illius-rock

We’ve spent a bunch of time here at z=z discussing different models for the future of music. Here’s an interesting one. Boston-based Illius Rock runs ‘campaigns’ for artists. Emerging artists ask their fans to make contributions, typically for studio expenses, to shoot videos, touring and the like. In exchange, fans get treats, like exclusive songs, parties, cameos in music videos and the like. Interested in learning more? They’re throwing a launch party tonight (Monday, January 26th) at the Middlesex Lounge in Cambridge, featuring z=z faves The Main Drag.

MP3: The Main Drag – A Jagged Gorgeous Winter

[via Bradley’s Almanac]

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Economic effect of downloading a net win

January 23, 2009

graph

A new report, commissioned by the Ministry of Economic Affairs of the Netherlands, to look at the effects of downloading was just released (here; it’s in Dutch, of course). Some of the findings were not entirely unexpected – for example, 35% of the Dutch population has downloaded content (music, movies, games) without paying for it, but they pay for content as much as those that haven’t ‘freeloaded.’

But the most interesting point was the following (it’s quoted from Ars Technica, who posted about the report):

The study concludes that the effects are strongly positive because consumers get to enjoy desirable content and also get to keep their cash to buy other things. Because the consumers save much more money than the producers lose, the net economic effects are positive. The report also reinforces the truth that unpaid downloads do not translate into lost sales in anything close to a one-to-one ratio.

It’s refreshing to see downloading considered in the context of society as a whole, rather than just in terms of money lost by corporations.

If anyone reads Dutch, I’d be interested in the rest of the report. Feel free to e-mail me or to share in the comments.

[via Ars Technica]

MP3: MC Lars – Download This Song