Sunday, October 15, 2006

MUSIC: : In This Digital Music Age, The Listener is King

Here's some excerpts from an article in The Chicago Tribune that gives some hope for the future of the music industry. ("Some" being the key word.) - OlderMusicGeek

In this digital music age, the listener is king

By Greg Kot
Tribune music critic
Published October 15, 2006

MONTREAL -- For six years at its annual policy summit, the Future of Music Coalition has tried to navigate a path through uncertainty. Now, with the music industry in the midst of its most profound transition since the invention of the phonograph more than a century ago, some solutions are finally coming into focus.

The big labels continue to lose money; record sales are down for the fifth consecutive year. Commercial radio has been publicly embarrassed by payola investigations conducted by the New York State attorney general's office, in which record companies admitted that they've been paying off radio stations to play songs for decades. And retail stores are losing business; more than 1,200 closed in the last year, and last week the bankrupt Tower Records chain announced it was closing its 89 stores in 20 states and laying off 3,000 employees.

But the summit was hardly a wake. Instead, a roll-up-the-sleeves optimism prevailed, especially for artists and consumers.

"More people are experiencing music than ever before in the history of mankind," said Paul Spurgeon, general counsel for SOCAN, the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada. "The great question is how do we get paid for it?"

Panelists agreed that record companies are now at a do-or-die crossroads. Their prognosis: The labels that survive will do so by spreading sales across a wider range of talent, rather than concentrating on a handful of megasellers to ensure profitable quarterly statements to satisfy anxious shareholders. The new marketplace isn't being built for the 10-million selling act. It'll be about building a foundation for artists that sell less than 100,000 albums.

It makes sense. More than 80 percent of the music that is released in America is made by independent artists who don't sell big enough numbers to attract major-label interest. Yet a handful of corporations continue to haul in the bulk of the shrinking industry's revenue. That's because they concentrate their marketing efforts on a few dozen mega-selling artists, while more than 90 percent of the artists who record for a major label never see a penny in royalties. That business model looks particularly rickety in the Internet era.

System of sharing

A new Internet-savvy music hierarchy is being created. Commercial radio, MTV, retails stores and even record companies are losing their tastemaking status, while consumers are becoming de facto music programmers who share information and music via message boards, Web pages, e-zines and MP3 blogs.

In the process, more people than ever are making and consuming music. Without a physical product to sell, costs for recording and distributing music are sinking. At the same time, opportunities to be heard are increasing. In this world, the narrowest music tastes are being served, and a musical planet encompassing thousands of subcultures is being created.

The debate about the future of music is going back to the past

In a sense, it brought the debate about the future of music back to the past, and the oldest marketing concept of all: playing in front of an audience. It's one thing to hear an MP3 file of a new band like Montreal's Lovely Feathers, quite another to hear that band perform that same song on stage. The breathtaking intensity of the quintet's live performance at Pop Montreal made the songs on their latest album sound quaint in comparison.

"It's hard to quantify how we got noticed," said the Arcade Fire's Win Butler. "No doubt Pitchfork had an impact. But who really cares reading an article? It's the music ultimately. You listen, and you either like it or you don't. For us, we've been so much about playing live and making that connection that I don't know any other way."

"Live music," said former Talking Heads singer David Byrne, "is an experience you can't digitize."

Link to the complete article

No comments:

Search This Blog

My Twitter Page On Entertainment

Music That I've Enjoyed Recently

My Internet Radio Stations

This is a fairly good sampling of some of the music I listen to. It's missing a few genres I like - such as cajun. I'll work on that later. But it does contain most of my favorite artists. I tried to steer away from the better known songs to give you a better idea of what kind of music the artists play, but I was limited by the songs the website - Project Playlist - had available. But if you want to get an idea of what I listen to, just hit the play or arrow button. - OlderMusicGeek

The internet station that does the best of playing my music is Last.fm. Here's my station if you're interested.

This website, OlderMusicGeek Radio on Pandora.com, does a fairly decent job of playing what I like, although they do occasionally play stuff I don't care for, but overall they're pretty good.