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The Future Of The Music Industry

I was up till 5:30 this morning editing the Back In The Day Remix video, which I just about finished. All I gotta do now is sort the colour out. Anyway, there I was, happily dreaming of android sheep, when the house shook with rage and hatred, and my sheep dissipated into nothing like so many internet startups. 8 am it was! Some heartless Poles are mashing up the pavement outside my house with a giant fucking drill – the sort of drill you’d imagine people looking for oil with, or using to impregnate mountains. The house is still shaking. The noise is abominable. I have been unable do record any vocals, which is what I wanted to do when I got up – preferably later, but but beggars can’t be choosers, and I neither can struggling homebound musicians living in the path of the Mayan-Prophesied End Of World Olympics.

Anyway. My manager just sent me some article a friend of his wrote, gamely predicting the future of the music industry. Forsooth:

Within 2 years, the leading music blogs will become what used to be called ‘Record Labels’. The people running them will be those sharp, tuned-in, hyper-networked and resourceful BlogJs formerly known as bloggers. They will use their blogs as the primary attention channel (yes – attention really is the new distribution) and will dish up a complete, interactive and highly relevant multi-media experience that will include TV shows, chats, webcasts and games. Forget about ‘websites’ and browsers – the BlogJs will do it on all platforms and devices.

The future brings 1000s of micro-music-channels that will literally broadcast – or rather, ‘narrow-cast’ their longtailing creations – be it text, audio, images or videos – to their hungry subscribers using MediaRSS Rss_feeds_monetization_a feeds and customized my-stuff-pages such as [fiction alert] imoogli, beatwibes amd muflakes that will ‘live’ on any connected device, e.g. your mobile, your TV, your computer, your interactive bathroom screen, your wrist watch, your wimax-ing car radio, or your new P2P global gaming network. Widgets will continue to become instant, ubiquitous mini-site modules that will allow anyone to re-distribute any kind of content, to any device and any platform, anywhere. Most marketing will be done through and with the users – and some of them will get paid for it, too.

BlogJs will attract an influential, engaged and proactive audience by flouting their charismatic personalities – indeed, these disruptors, thought leaders and influencers will be our future broadcasters. Like digital-age editions of ‘analog’ radio personalities such as the BBC’s John Peel (rip), these BlogJs will lead the way in matters of coolness, style, technology, gadgets, trends, politics, fashion and games, using new platforms like [fiction alert] Muserati, Digggster, Musicious, Lovenotion, MyDace and many others. And yes, many of them will be from China, India, Russia, Brazil, Indonesia or Mozambique. Goodbye anglo-centric blogoshere…

Read the whole article, its worth it. Anyway. I pretty much agree – a lot of what dude’s saying is already happening. I, for example get 97% of my hip-hop music from a handful of blogsites, like Nah Right and 2 Dope Boyz, that serve me brand new music almost hourly. Its been like that for a while now. I don’t buy any music magazines anymore cos they pretty much all suck ass. Reviews are more often than not written by people who haven’t even listened to the record, with a rating ascribed by the editor based on either: how much they wanna bang the PR involved, what marketing have told them to do, how much they had to drink last night. Having someone go, “this is dope, listen to it here” is obviously the way to go.

How about you lot? Where are you getting your music? Where, and how would you like to get your music? inquiring minds, wanna know.

— Thursday, April 10th, 2008

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  • Will

    Popjustice.com is a leading example of this. It's a brilliantly run and written site that has become the "Top of the Pops" and Smash Hits of today. Peter Robinson is one bright dude and any record company or music marketer would be nuts not to court him across the length and breadth of Lunnun. I'm sure it will figure heavily in pop music's future. The site is THE place to go for commercial pop or "cool" pop. I get my indie tips from flicking the NME and Zane Lowe, my metal from flicking Kerrang and my hip-hop from you, mostly.

    W

  • silent bob69

    Like the Don I used to use Oink but alas she is no more…ST Music has some decent stuff on.

    Got the new Del Tha Funkee Homosapien album of Bitsoup. I use a few blogs. Anyone wanting bootlegs of gigs should try The Traders Den (mostly older music)

    I refuse to read the NME as it is a fucking disgrace to music. I used to read it regularly but now it's just turned into the new Smash Hits. Look at a copy from the 80's or even mid 90's and you will find well written articles about intelligent musicians. Now you get a glossy poster of some skinny jeaned twat who looks like Edward Scissorhands younger brother and the interviews are one step away from' What is your favourite colour' type bullshit.

    I download tons of stuff myself but I like most people who download a lot also buy a lot of music. I understand the argument that people may be stealing music but I would bet that I still spend more on legitimate music in a month than the 'average' man on the street does in a year.

    The idea of the digital licence could work for people who want to download tons of stuff. The idea that I could purchase a licence like the TV licence and then I could download what I like without the feds kicking the fuckin' door in seems worth it to me.

    What does everyone else think of the licence idea?

  • Will

    I think its a good one, sb. ps never read the copy in NME -just make a note of new bands and what they roughly sound like and check em out. It might sound like lazy reading but I find it really helpful that Kerrang puts "Sounds like/for fans of". Avoids a lot of waffle.

  • Tego

    My thing is, as trends change, what age are we in right now? Because if as many of us are being given music by Eskay as his advertising would suggest then this age is already upon us. I’m a few years into this and at this point I tend not to download at all. I’m clicking the zShare links, listening to the first 8 bars and keeping it moving. I think you have to look at this from a broader perspective than just yourself. For we love and care about music. Most don’t. They enjoy it, but they don’t love it. I believe it can be replaced in their minds. Especially when the waters are muddied by so much opinion. I believe we’re facing that now. When a record gets to number 1 it’s there for many weeks, it’s top 10 for many more, that’s a sign that people are seeking assurance in their music “I’ll buy it when it’s top of the charts”, we can think ourselves as important as we like but we are not the record buying public. There is a generation of internet-savvy youth who can easily profess to loving music but can have never bought an album. Never bought a single. Consumed every note from a blog, they are not consuming what you an I consume. What they’re consuming is something different. We naturally roam, we may take a while to roam, but we roam, if there’s 10 million sites telling me to spend my broadband on this, that and the third I’m not going to know what’s going on.

    Our best bet is to hope that we can remove as much of the gratification culture that we’ve developed in music consumption over the last few years and get back to focussing on what’s important, the art and the reward for the art. Because as much as people may want to argue with me on this point, the art will suffer.

  • Tego

    I've had people in the industry promoting the licence argument to me recently and I'm absolutely unmoved. As a theory it's not going anywhere, BT owe the industry, Microsoft owe the industry, Apple owe the industry, sales could plummet to Zero in the next 4 years and we could still turn around and say "You have to pay a subscription to music". Before that though, I think we're going to have to wait out this phase of music consumption. A time will come when people want substance again, a development will come in manufacturing that makes people want substance again. The industry can't hand over the keys because of a few bad years. Downloading is forever, there's no doubting that, but at the moment the consumer hasn't suffered, apart from video budgets being slashed there is no noticeable change to the untrained eye.

    Don't get me wrong, it's going to get worse for the industry, much worse, but until we know what's on the other side, we can't give up on selling C.Ds and MP3s.

  • silent bob69

    I agree.. I still spend loads of money on actual cd's, this month I have already bought The Raconteurs, MGMT, Nick Cave, some old Bowie stuff and various others. I download a lot but if I get something I like I will buy it.

    I do object to paying 80p or some ridiculous price to download a track that is a/ not of cd quality and b/ just a bit of data. If I'm going to shell out I will pay £1.99 for the cd single, at least then you get a lossless copy and you get artwork and everything.

    Music shouldn't be a disposable comodity like a packet of gum. I still like to look round record fairs and feel the vinyl/cd in my hand. With the convenience of downloading I do feel that the emotional investment and connection that used to be there doesn't exist.

    I am at an age that I can remember waiting for the new Smiths, Cure etc single to come out as you would get some awesome b sides. I felt a connection to it as you would have to take the 12" out of it's sleeve, put it on and have to sit still to listen to the shit. Now people download the flavour of the month and whack it straight on their ipod's and listen to it while they are doing other stuff. I think the connection is gone when you are trying to traverse a busy city street in headphones, I don't think music is as important to young people like it used to be. They have all the latest stuff, but only so they can show it off as a ring tone.

    The whole thing is like a conveyor belt which keeps going faster and faster. The X Factor shit don't help. These people are dropped as soon as they don't have a number one. Where is the indusrty's investment in nurturing talent instead of flogging a bunch of karaoke kids to death then flinging them on the scrapheap. Some of these kids are only in their early twenties and their career is over. Makes me wonder what would have happened to people like Lennon, Hendrix, Lydon etc if the industry had been then like it is now.

    Don't even start me on the fuckers sitting on the back of the bus making everyone listen to their smurf music out of theie tinny phone!!!!

  • Akira The Don

    Gosh, Popjustice is quite good isn't it? I haven't looked at it since 2003.

    Never mind what would happen to Lennon/Hendrix/Lydon – what about Elton John? Or Warren Zevon? Or Phil Collins? They'd never get past the gateposts for looking like pedophiles!

    :o

  • Will

    Actually, are there some good metal blogs I should know about? stereogum.com is good for Americana whimsy and I have joined a few facebook groups that keep me going on JusticeSoulwaxFrench electro business.

  • silent bob69

    I used to use Oink but alas she is no more…ST Music has some decent stuff on.

    Got the new Del Tha Funkee Homosapien album of Bitsoup. I use a few blogs. Anyone wanting bootlegs of gigs should try The Traders Den (mostly older music)

    I refuse to read the NME as it is a fucking disgrace to music. I used to read it regularly but now it’s just turned into the new Smash Hits. Look at a copy from the 80′s or even mid 90′s and you will find well written articles about intelligent musicians. Now you get a glossy poster of some skinny jeaned twat who looks like Edward Scissorhands younger brother and the interviews are one step away from’ What is your favourite colour’ type bullshit.

    I download tons of stuff myself but I like most people who download a lot also buy a lot of music. I understand the argument that people may be stealing music but I would bet that I still spend more on legitimate music in a month than the ‘average’ man on the street does in a year.

    The idea of the digital licence could work for people who want to download tons of stuff. The idea that I could purchase a licence like the TV licence and then I could download what I like without the feds kicking the fuckin’ door in seems worth it to me.

    What does everyone else think of the licence idea?

  • BloodRed

    Ok, ill say it… THE PIRATE BAY XD also mixtape-torrents is good though some of the dj’s suck. And just to clarify, i may get the cd’s before they come out, but if thier any good – i will pick you up at the mall. Recently, the only things i felt justifyable to purchase were Lupe’s The Cool, Sage’s Human the Death Dance, and ATD’s thieving heh… But we are so beyond selling 2cent plastic disks for 15 bucks… I’d rather just mail an artist 15 bucks and he can send me his shit as he makes it.

  • Tego

    Pricing has to be more reasonable but at the same time an album is way more than a 2 cent disc. That’s a lot of time, money and effort. That’s art.

  • BloodRed

    I agree with what you said tego, it is art. Art should be shared. Artists make crap off cds as it is, its the touring and endorsments that land you 50 cents crib hehe. I would be happy just knowing people thought i was cool and were bumpin’ me in thier rides… but that doesnt pay the bills so… its a catch 22. And all because we were forced into this instead of trying any of the great ideas that have been proposed (cuz the record companies want to keep thier empire even though its burning to the ground all around them) anyway, Indie music all the way, i maybe get 1 or 2 mainstream cds a year anyway…

  • http://www.myspace.com/cowboycouture xandra (steph)

    Thankyou very much for the postage and arrival of my thieving T

    unfortunately my cd didn’t come with it. =[

    I was wondering whether it is coming separately?

    x

  • Akira The Don

    Hey X – email me your paypal receipt, I’ll check it against my records… I thought I sent the CD a while ago….

    Tego, your “assurance in music” point is an excellent one.

  • Tego

    Man I live with this issue 90% of the day. I feel like this is my industry, not on a major level, not even necessarily doing what I’m doing right now, but I am so defined by my music that I can’t let this issue die. I flip flop between what I believe, think and feel, my heart rules my head and vice versa depending on who I’m talking to but I’m always trying to find the cure. I have 2 singles coming out in June through a major label, this is my time, I feel like everybody that found their feet making and promoting music in this era (2003-onwards) is here to find the next level. You are on a next level as an artist, we take a lot from your communication with fans, your awesome turnover of product, your always considered and developed visuals I could go on all day. You have embraced the climate and are flexible enough to embrace the changes within it. The music matters, we need to make sure that people understand that it matters enough to be paid for. If we give up that fight, we give up everything.

    The assurance thing though comes back to what we were saying the other day about proper editorial online (in print as well but that’s a whole mess of branding, investment and pressure). An actual stop gap between recommendation and purchase. The Playlouder reviews were one of two British based review sites that seemed to influence opinion. We’re now down to one (Drownedinsound) and because it’s existed since before the full on collapse, they’re not ready to accept their roll in the redesign of the industry. I’m drumming home the point to the people I work with at magazines and online that when the industry collapses, they’ll be fighting over the corpse, at the moment they’re sure the non-industry brands will protect them, but there’s no guarantee of that. You only have to go back 10 years to see how “Uncool” music in this country can be.

    I don’t think it’s revolution we need. I think that plays into the hands of the desperate few. Right now we need Sony, Universal and Warners to take their hits like men and develop the next phase. Ultimately, we need to let the people decide.

  • BloodRed

    we DO NOT need $ony, Univer$al or Time-Warner$ to develop the next phaze… Akira has proven that. What we need is to buy direct from artists… Like i said earlier… if i give u 15 bucks basically u can give me the next 15 cds then based on a generous deal with a record lable… id give ATD 15 bucks a year for exclusive Downloads… hell id do the same thing with the BP's and narsties click

  • BloodRed

    sorry to post twice… but id rather give my money direct… who needs the middle man. If your good and you got rhymes then ill eventualy hear ya :)

  • Alligator Traits

    The future is…..

    ……………………….LIve Nation!

    The biggest acts of 30, 20 and 10 years ago, signing a recording deal with a CONCERT PROMOTER keeping them in international stadium/ festival work for another 30,20.10 years.

    Its evil genius. Those acts make more cheddar out of touring than sales anyway (U2, Madona etc), but by opting out of the major rec-company system it causes two effects. Firstly, it means that older acts who had hits back when records sold continue to have profile and constant revenue stream from concerts/ festies etc. The fan base is already there. They bought the records for the last 2 decades.

    Secondly (this is the bad one!), outside of the old major label system, there is no trickle down of money. Currently, huge, major platinum acts fund the smaller ones at a label. Without Madona or U2 or Jayz or REM at the major, there can be no new entry level artists.

    So, oldies got the monopoly on the next decade of music industry cash.

    Clever fucks.

    (p.s Paul McCartney is signed to Starbucks. Exactly the same thing)

  • Tego

    You have to remember that Akira The Don has had the benefit of the major label system at one time (literally "The machine") and I'm sure that for whatever reason he has developed from being in that system.

    The anti-capitalist consumer perspective on major labels doesn't tell half of the story. In a lot of ways they don't know the half of the evils, in the same breath they don't know the good within the system. There will need to be a system of major label forever, with no overground there will be no underground, how many MySpaces are their in the world now? What stops you from downloading everything? What makes you download what you download? If you have the time to trawl through every MP3 on the internet then more power

  • Akira The Don

    Good point re Live Nation and them goshdang oldster fucks. Its all making sense now. They’re just not going to give up anything are they? And when they’ve got their age defying technology sorted, and can live forever, you think that shit’s gonna be in anyone’s price range but theirs?

    I SO GET IT NOW!

    Paul McCartney will live forever. Bono and Jay Z are trying to get in on the action. Chris Martin scrapping at the heels. It is a very exclusive club, the Live Forever Club. You have to prove yourself dedicated to the core. Anti-human. Pro-Highlander. THE QUICKENING COMETH!

    Re the subscription idea, I’ve been toying with it for a few years. Working out how to implement it and balance it with the way the rest of the word operates is the tricky thing.

    And Tego has a point.
    I totally got a whole bunch of shit out of my time at Interscope. Like the keyboard I’m tapping this message to you with, just for starters. HOWEVER: most of what I got out of Interscope was wisdom. And I shall pass all of it on to youse, in time. Then all you’ll need is a bank loan. And talent. Of course.