Music -v- Marketing

At the core of all of this, it is the music that is key. But putting out good music and being a good marketer are not mutually exclusive. If you do something cool — something fun or valuable or neat beyond just the music — it’s not going to matter as much if the music itself isn’t good. This is why, I have to admit, the one area where I think all three of these artists could have done a better job is actually making the music itself free.

via www.techdirt.com

No Starship but…

BlowsKinda funny to listen to the first "Jefferson Starship" album (ie. the
first after the band ceased to be an Airplane). Written and released in
1970, the album is a musical work of 'science fiction' that looks back
from some time in future to launch of a starship in 1990 that had been
under construction for ten years…

You know – a starship circlin' in the sky 
it ought to be ready by 1990
They'll be buildin' it up in the air even since 1980
People with a clever plan can assume the role of the mighty
and HIJACK THE STARSHIP
Carry 7000 people past the sun
And our babes'll wander naked thru
the cities of the universe
C'mon
free minds, free bodies, free dope, free music
the day is on its way the day is ours

Sorry to say, we never quite got the starship together, minds are still shackled by all manner of things (let's start with religion…), sexuality is still mostly repressed (at the same time it is exploited), and hell, you still can't buy dope, let alone get it for free…

But the "free music" part?  THAT part it appears they got right (but not until long after they'd all earned a tidy fortune from Industrial Rock & Roll).

The Problem With Spotify – Maybe It’s Their Business Model?

via www.nme.com

Is everything all right at Spotify? News that the music streaming service has reverted to being invite-only – just days after the much-heralded launch of its iPhone app – is deeply puzzling. It's a bit like Arctic Monkeys releasing 'Humbug' – then a week later saying, Wait, hang on, it's not finished, can we do that again?

Furthermore:

But there is another, more troubling possibility: Spotify has a cashflow problem. As New Media Age point out, Spotify pays record labels per stream – it's not much, about half a penny per track – but any sudden spike in users would cause a corresponding hike in the site's costs.

Aside from the obvious question of "who gets that ha'penny per track, you still have to wonder where even that ha'penny is coming from. Advertising??

The celestial jukebox has arrived (?)

The Spotify iPhone app has been approved. With this app, I will now be able to carry 5 million songs in my pocket, and every week thousands more songs will be added to my collection automatically.  This is the proverbial celestial jukebox – the great jukebox in the cloud that lets me listen to any song I want to hear.    This is  going to change how we listen to music.  When we can listen to any song,  anywhere, any time and on any device our current ways of interacting with music will be woefully inadequate.

via musicmachinery.com

Has it really? I keep hearing that the Spotify app has been approved, but I still can’t use Spotify, as previously reported, the Lala.com app for the iPhone has been in limbo for more than six months now. But if and when it does arrive, it’s not really going to change “how we listen to music.” We’ll still use our ears for that, and some sort of delivery device like speakers or earbuds. But it will change how we collect and music. Mostly because… we won’t actually have to collect and store it ourselves any more, nor are we confined to the limitations of shelf (or hard-drive) space and budget.

The question then becomes, if we in fact have access-on-demand to everything, what will we listen to? And how will the people who make that music sustain their efforts?

The linked article continues:

The new challenge that these next generation music services face is
helping their listeners find new and interesting music.  Tools for
music discovery will be key to keeping listener’s coming back.

Which begins to ask the pertinent question: with changes in the media, patterns of behavior change.  What new behavioral patterns will emerge in the era of infinite music — and what business opportunities do those new behavior patterns offer.

And how much do we have to think about such things before we can get a clue what the answer is…??

Today’s Discovery via Lala.com

Of course, I’ve known about Maura O’Connell almost as long as I’ve lived in Nashville, but when “Phoenix Falling” from this 2006 album rolled around on a playlist (which I started by selecting Cheryl Wheeler), I knew in a heartbeat what I want to be listening to this afternoon. No disrespect, Cheryl, but this stuff is knocking me out:

And after I listened to this album, I listened to her newest, Naked With Friends, which I’d first heard about listening to an interview with Maura on the podcast edition David Hooper’s Music Business Radio.

A Contrary Opinion

Demand for a subscription music service has been capped, and a mobile app won’t help drive incremental demand even if it is a good product.

via www.businessinsider.com

I never did try Rhapsody (or the Napster subscription service), I guess I’ll have to check then out to see how well they work. I know a couple of people who’ve tried it and speak well of it. But when I read “demand… has been capped” at fewer than a million subscribers, I just have to think… somebody’s missing the boat. Hell, could just as well be me…

Spotify – The Devil You DON’T Know

The European online music service Spotify offers six million tracks—a practically limitless catalog spanning Aaron Copland to ZZ Top—in an interface as polished and intuitive as Apple’s iTunes. And unlike the pay-per-song iTunes, Spotify’s entire library is free for the taking, assuming users can tolerate an occasional advertisement.

via www.thedailybeast.com

…because you have to be somebody to get it.

The question is, what sort of licenses has Spotify been able to negotiate that iTunes cannot? Is Apple beholden to the labels for the 99c/track model? If not, is iTunes the Spotify killer?

Oh, and, “an occasional adverstisement” is NOT free… and… who gets THAT money? Remember, the reason the labels wanted to kill Napster was not because Napster was ripping off the artists, but to preserve the labels’ ability to rip off the artists. If Spotify is in league with the labels, how is it any different on that score?

A Paradigm Shift in 280 Characters

LMDFA09_1-310x176 Last month, Nashville's Leadership Music held its annual Dale Franklin Awards Banquet at which the honorees were producer Allen Reynolds, music executive Jim Fogelsong, and some country crooner named Garth Brooks. The morning after the gala event, I learned that the esteemed Mr. Brooks had used his after dinner remarks to rail against the evils of all things digital in the music business.

During the event, I'd noticed the editor of Music Row posting to Twitter from the venue about the goings on, so I posed the question to him: "What exactly did Garth say about digital last night?"  To which he replied:

Screen-capture-1 

To which I replied:

Screen-capture-3  

And there, in two 140 character statements, is the essential paradigm shift that the arrival of the Celestial Jukebox portends.