The New Music <strike>Business</strike> Revolution
Well, if it’s one thing the music business got right…it’s predicting the whole big recession party currently affecting the rest of the economy. You see, the music business has been in ‘cliff diving’ depression mode since 2002. The whole industry has been decimated with an unbelievable 75-85% decline in physical sales…and growing (based on recent Top 10 Album sales)
And the truth is, for better or worse, right now, ALL business and traditional models…will continue to go through disruption, innovation, digitalism, outsourcing and modernizing.
You see, the Music Business was hit first, simply because they had a product (either a song or an album) that could be easily digitized and downloaded in seconds. Yup, just like one of those science fiction ‘replicators’ on Star Trek. Oh, you want a ham sandwich or…whatever? Click a button and presto…ham sandwich on wheat or rye will ‘materialize.’
Well, for better or worse, the music business has seen this science fiction now become reality. Hence, a perfect digital file of any song or album you wish for, in one click, in seconds, can suddenly materialize on your desktop. For Free. Suddenly music became ‘pay optional.’
I’m not going to go into the history, but clearly the music business failed to recognize, react and embrace the digital issue. It was perceived as a problem instead of a huge opportunity…and they bungled it.
So clearly the music business needs reinvented (watch for 2012/2013 for everything to really start falling apart). And yeah, every year there’s big music conferences, business articles written, lots of talk yada yada, yet few people actually are trying to do something and try new solutions. But I have an idea and concept of what’s really going to happen.
I think it’s going to be a complete reinvention and revolution that no one is expecting.
Let me give you a nice little diagram and share some ‘Saturday Night Live Jack Handy Deep Thoughts’ on what I think the future of the music business will be.
First, let me show you the old model (1930-2008), demonstrating the process an artist goes through…from the initial artist beginnings all the way to the lengthy and expensive process of making an album to record sales and success.
Old Music Business Model (1930-2008)
Not every artist will follow this path…but in most cases this is the standard. Basically the process starts with an artist, who was ‘discovered’ actually NOT by a record label…but by a fan or a group of fans. Those passionate fans ‘sneezed’ (to use a Seth Godin term) and spread the word to their friends. This word of mouth would find the attention of a manager, who then secured a record contract at a major label. The artist gets signed, and then the traditional model of making and releasing an album takes place; including very expensive recording, marketing, radio promotion, distribution, etc all the way to reaching new fans and ultimately record sales.
Now, call me crazy (I’ve been called worse ...OK not really), but the current traditional model (i.e. from Nat King Cole to Led Zeppelin to Ke$ha) has only really been around for the last 50-70 years. This is just a total blip on the screen. And this old model is completely dead.
So what’s the next 50 years going to look like? Here’s one very possible path I think it could be:
New Model Music Business 2008 - ????
I know, I know you’re probably thinking … OK, I get most of this, but what is the ‘Trusted Filter’ or ‘Digitally Wrapped Content?’
I’ll explain…the new model (2008-20??) goes something like this. (1, 2, 3 … hit it!)
In the new model, an artist creates their own recordings along with a great original YouTube video or social media page, which is discovered by a new music fan. This same fan in the old model is usually forgotten and receives no credit. But instead…in the new model, this fan can now spread the word to what I call a ‘Trusted Filter.’ With Filters…I’m talking about music blogs, ‘tastemaker’ DJs, credible music magazines and websites.
The ‘Trusted Filter’ I want to specifically talk about is BitCandy, the new Independent and Curated Music Filter. As a Music Filter, BitCandy would feature and promote this new artist and actually give the original fan a singular, badge for that artist discovery on BitCandy’s Curator page. Yes, you get da propz.
Ok…more of the Curator concept later! For now…moving on…so what’s ‘Digitally Wrapped Content?’
Digitally Wrapped Content is the idea that in the future…each song and artist will be ‘wrapped’ by social media ‘linkage.’ In other words, one click will provide instant gateway access to an artist’s YouTube video, Facebook, MySpace page (c’mon MySpace get it together!), Itunes (subscription model in the cloud), Wikipedia, Spotify, Facebook Likes & Twitter buttons, Lyrics, etc. Oh did I say the Future? This is actually happening right now at BitCandy. Anywhere you see the ‘Artist Information’ button, you can activate all of this deep content and linkage from the artist.
Next in the ‘new model’ concept, the artist’s Social Media buzz takes over, and via DIY (do it yourself) digital marketing, the artist creates a core fan base, tours, remains credible and true to their core fans, releases frequent material and then, though not necessarily an ‘end point,’…lastly, might get the attention of a more traditional or perhaps a ‘new music business type’ record label that can help take the artist to next level of exposure. From there maybe they’ll up on some downward slope on VH1’s: Behind The Music. But let’s hope not!
But I want to get back to something important. I want to talk more about that original fan. The first person on the scene. The first discoverer of a band or artist. I hate to say it…but in the old model, that original fan usually got totally hosed. Huh?
That’s right…the 1st fan who originally identified the artist, screaming at the top of their lungs how great an artist is, telling all their friends, letting the band sleep on their floor after a gig, etc gets zero in the old equation.
Like, who was the first fan of Radiohead? Who discovered Arcade Fire at their first show or even saw them before their first gig at a rehearsal studio? Usually it’s the initial fan who creates the buzz…but in a way, gets left behind. Ok, maybe a pat on the back; and then someone else gets the credit and accolades for discovering and signing them to a label.
No, it wasn’t the A&R person at the label who discovered this artist…it was really…you…there at the artist’s first gig. Kinda case in point is this story (and from what we heard is true, in our opinion) of how Lady Gaga was discovered: http://www.radaronline.com/exclusives/2010/09/exclusive-documents-woman-who-discovered-lady-gaga-suing-her-share
So, here’s my idea. What if that original fan making the next great artist discovery could get the credit via a singular virtual badge for that artist? For instance, you really discovered the next big indie band, singer/songwriter or dub step producer? Prove it!’ Now you can and the world will know who you are.
Yes, this is happening! Anyone with a great new music discovery can submit to BitCandy. If the artist is not in our system, we’ll listen to it, and if we think you are right…you’ll get credit on our website on the Curator page with that specific artist badge! There’s only 1 badge per artist available. It’s what I’m calling the Curator concept. Click here for more info.
You see, we’re going to give credit solely to you with that artist discovery, along with a time stamp. That’s right…now you’re the one who gets the credit for discovering that artist.
In Curator we track and rank everyone by their number of artist finds…so the world can see exactly who is making the biggest and most exciting artist discoveries. Yes, it’s actually you who gets credit for discovering the next big artist…even before it’s tipped in Pitchfork, Spin, etc. In fact, maybe Pitchfork will take your lead, instead of the other way around.
We also as you would expect, give linkage straight back to you to your blog, social site, etc. and help drive traffic to your profile or site in return. The BitCandy / Curator app of course is also forthcoming. This is going to be fun.
Curators also receive access and can submit reviews, stories and articles to our Reviews, Blog articles, editorials, etc. If we love what you have to say…we’ll publish it on the front page and archive of BitCandy and of course give you the credit. We figure since you already have great taste, we’ll help push your thoughts and ideas to the entire BitCandy audience.
But it gets better. BitCandy is also a ‘new music revolution’ label and publishing company, with songs already released by artists as diverse as Aeroplane to Britney Spears.
So, I was thinking…what if the original fan could actually get paid or receive some other type of actual reward for their discovery? Wouldn’t that be amazing? Done!
So here’s the amazing and sexy twist. If we sign an artist you turned us on to…meaning you have the Curator badge for that artist, we’re going to cut you in on the revenue share for that specific signing. I mean, why not? This is how it should be. The initial discoverer should have success along with the artists they discovered!
So, Yes it’s True! BitCandy will give you a revenue participation share of 20% (from our net) of anything we receive from direct signings via our label or publishing that specifically originates from your Curator discoveries! Pretty cool huh?! We think so. We even put it in writing.
I know what you might be thinking. And you’re right.
If this works, it could kinda be our revenge on the current music business…and further to help dismantle a system that’s broken, corrupt, unfair, un-nurturing of great art and run largely by idiots and jerkos, who all have (this is a fact, but I can’t publish names) multiple personal agendas and conflicts of interest.
Most record label execs could totally care less about getting great music to your ears or developing artists…they’re often more concerned in lining their own pockets.
So, if this works, BitCandy could help make the traditional record label executive obsolete. That’s right, I’m going to let you take away their job. Now the passionate music fan (i.e. you) can get the right props. Why should some smug corner office A&R exec get all the big credit, social accolades and salary when they barely did any (or in most cases)…none of the hard work?
Ayn Rand (the amazing writer of ‘Atlas Shrugged’ and ‘The Fountainhead’) once said ‘It takes 2 people to create art.’ One person to make it…and another trusted voice to say ‘Yes, this is great art!’ At BitCandy, we want to, along with yourself, in partnership, be that trusted voice and originating point for great new music and artists.
We believe in a Rebirth of Music. We believe the fastest way for this to happen, is for the current and corrupt and lowest common denominator mainstream music industry and hierarchy to fail. We’d like to help accelerate that destruction and create something amazing, new and essential in its place.
Because great music…is life itself. And life is too short to listen to Christina Aguilera.
Please join us at www.BitCandy.com.
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Revolution will be digitized.