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Blog // Thoughts
August 6, 2014

Make Music For Adults

Five Lessons the Faltering Music Industry Could Learn From TV, has been bouncing from share, to like to retweet, all over the internet this week. As the name suggests, this article suggests a set of ways the current, successful and profitable cable TV shows could inspire change in the music business. Summarised this list is, […]

Five Lessons the Faltering Music Industry Could Learn From TV, has been bouncing from share, to like to retweet, all over the internet this week. As the name suggests, this article suggests a set of ways the current, successful and profitable cable TV shows could inspire change in the music business. Summarised this list is,

1. Target adults, not kids.
2. Embrace complexity.
3. Improve the technology.
4. Resist tired formulas.
5. Invest in talent and quality.

The harsh truth is that in the last ten years, I’ve probably only met a handful of people in the music business who agree with all five; just a handful, out of the hundreds and hundreds of hands I’ve shaken at gigs, dinners, events, coffee meetings, lunches, breakfasts and conferences.

I hate to say it, it feels like betrayal to say it, but when I think about the music business, it doesn’t feel like an industry that deserves to be successful right now, not in the way TV has been recently, or film, software, and sports have been in recent years.

The music industry found a ready scapegoat in illegal downloads and piracy. A villain which allowed the business enough excuses to avoid the limitations of the product it was offering. As music offered an increasingly unchallenging palette of choices, with degraded sound quality, little variety, familiar themes and relentless nostalgia, television blossomed with a broad and rich array of deep, often complex stories, increasing higher quality formats, inventive new programming and a willingness to subvert viewer expectations.

There’s no shortage of musical talent and the resources for learning how to make music are better and cheaper now than at any time in human history. But, so much of the new music being released is so safe, so simplistic, so formulaic and quite frankly, so unchallenging.

And, sorry, but Miley Cyrus twerking is not dangerous – it’s safe, predictable and mundane.

TV is doing well because it isn’t speaking down to its audience. Rather, in it’s best (and often most successful iterations) TV carries them along to new and exciting places. People are being challenged and inspired through the stories TV offers them, as well as being entertained along the way

Music once did that. Music led culture. Music will lead culture again one day. It’s just a question of when.

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