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I just got done listening to about two hours of music via my Sonos system. I bounced from Pandora to Rhapsody to iHeart Radio and back to home base, my 100,000 track library. It was a good balance of lean-forward and lean-back experiences. Technology has enabled music to literally be at your fingertips, it is something that we dreamed of ten years ago, today the dream is fully realized.

The marketplace has grown exponentially in the past eighteen months, Spotify, MOG, Grooveshark, Play.me, Guvera, MP3Tunes and Slacker have all launched feature-rich on-demand and/or user-influenced services, the offerings are bountiful. Rumors abound concerning planned services from Apple and Google, the primetime era of the cloud-based service is debuting imminently: don’t miss the revolution.The economics are still to be proved, but we have made some significant progress.

At this point, it is critical that we remember that technology is there to serve the music, and not the other way around. Music should be enjoyed by as many fans as possible, but the artists and songwriters who create it need to be fairly compensated. The rush to drive the cost of music to near zero will eventually deliver unintended consequences, the disappearance of the full-time musician.

The promise of the net was to offer unimaginable opportunities and rewards to artists freed from the major label system. The reality is that, for the majority of these artists, sustainable careers are not emerging.

We need to make sure that there’s enough money left on the table to give deserving artists and songwriters careers that don’t include a shift at Starbucks. It can be done, but it will take vision and cooperation.

It’s the right outcome.


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2 Comments

  1. Ted, you’re 100% correct. The labels are falling apart and most of the solutions for artists is that they become full time social media experts. Unfortunately, there’s a big difference between being an artist and being a marketing guru. Every year at MidemNet, most of the seminars deal with trying to teach these artists about guerrilla marketing – but it’s just not easy to maintain Facebook, Twitter and MySpace accounts, a blog, a website, an iTunes and CDBaby account, a street team, an email list…etc. I don’t want to turn this into a spam comment, but our website FanaticFactory.com fixes a lot of these problems and helps artists get exposure and generate a sustainable income – all for free. We’ll be at MidemNET this year for a prelaunch. Stop by and say hi, if you get the chance!

  2. You could say that the simple solution is to not play the “race to the bottom” game at all. Offer your goods at a fair price and the responsible will pay for it, the cheap will complain about it. If I could get more fans by giving my music away for free, what does that get me? A lot of work, artistic satisfaction, and a repossessed car.
    I am proud to say that my fans are intelligent people- They’re smart enough to know how much work goes into every song I release and how many hours I put into rehearsing my live performances. They know how much they’d like to be paid for the same amount of time at their jobs and they have time and time again shown me what my music is worth to them.
    It’s a little humbling, but it encourages me. No matter what file sharing/trading/copying/exploding technology launches next year, my fans are those who use the technology responsibly and smartly.

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