Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The death of the superstar makes way for millions of tiny bright lights

Unless you've been in a cave for the past 10 years, (Waddup Osama) you've watched an aging music industry creak and groan as its business model was stretched to its very limits. Metallica pissed and cried about it, Jacko went broke, and CD sales dragged like Rupaul on a Saturday night. On the other hand, Steve Jobs and his little company made enough money to buy black turtle necks and artsy glasses to last until the end of time. Music was free from the bonds of the record companies; people were sharing at an incredible rate, and they had no plans to stop.

In more recent times, a number of forward thinking bands have rejected the disintegrating label system, and made forays into new web-based forms of distribution. Radiohead with its "pay what you want" album teased our moral boundaries, and Phoenix offered their new single for free, as well as the layered track for DJ remixing. This is really the tip of the iceberg for a much better business model.

It's my feeling that the new model is this:

#1: Offer free single on sites like Big Stereo, Pitchfork, or the band's own
#1.5: Make the single not suck
#1.75: Get airplay on internet radio such as KCRW
#2: Sell the full album on iTunes
#3: Breathe deeeply as people share your album via Torrents, and your profits crumble
#4: Go on world tour. Make the lost profit back
#5: Grow as an artist, and make an even better album next time

Do lots of drugs, rinse, and repeat.

Now this does take longer then the traditional "get signed, get rich" model, but I think it opens the doors for a much wider variety of talent on the scene, and forces them to make the very best music possible. So I dig it.

No comments:

Post a Comment