because cool kids are boring

The Music Industry

without comments

This is a fascinating article from David Byrne about a possible future for the recording industry and what it means for the artists. Anyone who is the least bit curious about the industry really needs to give this one a read. I’d easily put up there with Steve Albini’s legendary essay Some of Your Friends are Already This Fucked as far as pieces that any musician would be completely brain dead not to read before signing anything.

One of the things that gets on my nerves is the whole “we’re seeing the end of the recording industry” doom and gloomers. The whole idea is bullshit of the first water and generally exposes, not only the individual’s complete lack of ability when it comes to forecasting trends, but usually an anti-pop bias in their musical tastes. What really gets me though is that the doom and gloom premonitions are generally based in their own idea that big budget pop music isn’t “real” music and the people who listen to it aren’t “real” fans. To put it another way, those who don’t agree with them are wrong, simple because they do not agree with them. They see themselves as cultural prophets, and if the rest of us would simply surrender our free will to them, things would be better.

OK, sorry there, I got off on a side tangent.

The interesting thing that Byrne does is that he presents six different business models for the industry that the artist can choose from. These range from the stereotyped major label deal, which offers the chance at a high short term return, but invariably leads to diminishing long range returns. To a full DIY model which offers a greater amount of artistic freedom and a larger percentage of the money that is generated, but will almost invariably result in less actual net gains.

I have some minor quibbles with Byrne, for one I’m not a believer in the idea that music distribution will ever be completely digital, but over all I’m really loving the ideas that he puts forward here. They’re pragmatic in their approach and built on actual facts and history, as opposed to the dart board approach so many other seem to be taking. The ideas themselves are not revolutionary, each is presented with real world examples and short snippets from people who are engaged in these models, but they are presented in a wonderful manner.

Definitely give it a read.

And yes, I’m aware of the irony of me suggesting someone should go read an article at Wired. I hope who ever got handed this story (because I’m sure it didn’t come from internally) played the lotto that day.

Written by Matt

December 19th, 2007 at 9:13 pm

Posted in Thoughts