Sunday, March 23, 2008

Long Live the Internet Music Marketplace (and Talkies)

Today I read a Times article, a TechCrunch post, and A VC's blog post about musicians their ability (or lack thereof) to monetize their content.

The VC blog post sums NYTimes article and Arrington. It's here:

A VC: Moving The Goalposts

I love music, I love bands, and I've treked far and wide to see musicians play and I've never stolen a song in my life.

That said, I don't care about musians getting paid. Not even a little. Business models change. I worry alot more about the American auto workers than musicians. There's a lot more of those guys, and if I can reconscile my dogmatic belief in the free market with screwing those guys over (as hard as it is), than musicians aren't a blip on the radar.

When movies became "talkies" the stars of American cinema that couldn't be compelling past their pretty face were out. This is no different. Tomorrow's musicians that can't make a living off of live touring, one to one outreach with fans, and merchandising are out. And that will lead to better music in very much the same way sound led to better movies.

What does that mean. More musicians touring and fighting harder for each fans. We'll probably see better talent in smaller clubs more frequently. Bands will put more effort in building a community out of their fan base and inspiring enough love amongst fans to get them to shell out real coin for collectables. Those making music to get laid and cash in will quit faster. Success in music will be more about the road than the destination, those giving it go in this marketplace will be pre-qualified when the end game isn't as rosy.

Yes, there will be less bloated rock stars selected by a king maker radio or studio exec's. And yes, there may be less money in it for artists. Maybe this new model will push some very solid bands to an unsustainable income, and they'll be lost forever. We will gain far more bands than we will lose with the democratization of audience access. I've spoken with some GREAT bands, that aren't rich by any standard. They've made their piece with it, they can get by. Its a shame, but its rock and roll and they like it. Maybe that's what makes them great.

Market forces inspire plenty of creativity. The great ones will find a way to get a good number of people to love them. Maybe that won't bring in enough money to "make it rain" but enough to keep doing what you love, and the great ones will still have it pretty good. Trust me.