"Let life enchant you again." - Fernando Gros
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Blog // Sounds
September 2, 2006

Shared Taste – The Changing Face Of Music Marketing

The New Tastemakers is a piece in today’s NYT, looking at the changes in music marketing, particularly as a result of Web 2.0 applications like Pandora. All told, music consumers are increasingly turning away from the traditional gatekeepers and looking instead to one another ‚Äî to fellow fans, even those they‚Äôve never met ‚Äî to […]

The New Tastemakers is a piece in today’s NYT, looking at the changes in music marketing, particularly as a result of Web 2.0 applications like Pandora.

All told, music consumers are increasingly turning away from the traditional gatekeepers and looking instead to one another — to fellow fans, even those they’ve never met — to guide their choices. Before long, wireless Internet connections will let them chatter not only on desktops, but in cars and coffee shops, too. And radio conglomerates and MTV, used to being the most influential voices around, are beginning to wonder how to keep themselves heard.

This is a wonderfully disruptive trend for at least three reasons. First, it shows that it is getting harder (or more futile) for media marketers to control the conversations about their products. The smaller and more regulated the cache of gatekeeprs in the media, the easier it is for big labels to get their message across. The greater the plurality of voices, the harder regulating the thing becomes. Sites like Pandora may not give you the voice of a big name music critic, but they at least put your choice in the public mix.

Second, this highlights one of the big ideas of social networking, finding the nearly like-minded. One thing I love about del.icio.us is finding someone who shares my interests, but is also looking in different parts of the web. Same goes with music: find someone who maybe shares your taste in cool jazz, but has had far more exposure to early techo, twentieth century classical and scandinavian folk – brilliant!

Third, it confirms the first idea of The Cluetrain Manifesto – markets are conversations.

How can musicians respond? Well you could either panic, or see that your sucess is tied to making the conversation happen. Take a look at what Hugh McLeod has been talking saying recently about the co-creation of word of mouth advertising, especially for the upcoming film Hallam Foe,

Remember, Word Of Mouth is not created, Word of Mouth is co-created. People will only spread your virus if there’s something in it for them. They have to be complicit in your success.

Which means, of course, you have to be complicit in their success as well.

Part of what I find compelling about Derek Webb making his new album available for free download is that he clearly sees promoting the conversation around his work as more important than the potential lost sales because of downloading (though I suspect the decision will actually win him sales he might not otherwise have made. He’s got people like me, who have previously only had marginal interest in his music (and next to no interest in the segment of the music industry where his music is usually marketed) talking about his new album.

It’s the question to ask if you have a new album (or book, or whatever) before you approach a blogger to help you get your message across – what are you doing to help them be more successful?

[tags] Cluetrain [/tags]

Tim 18 years ago

Over at

we are try to help people connect to each other through mutual musical interests. Come check it out.



Rodd Jefferson 18 years ago

It’s amazing just how disruptive a technology the Internet is. I was only thinking with a friend the other day just free from boundaries the blogging community is. You can find people of similar passions and interests and it makes no difference as to where they are in this world (ever decreasing in size).

My question – as disruptive as this new gateway-less society is becoming, is there another time in history where we saw a similar thing? The only example I can think of that comes close is the invention of the printing press, which radically changed how society gained access to information.

To be honest, though, I’m still struggling with what this means to me as an artist who really feels passionate about doing Church Music right. On one hand your post makes me think that the position of the church (and people like me) has strengthened, on the other hand it also could be said that we’ve all become even more insignificant, since what I have can most likely be found from a dozen other sources??

Rodd Jefferson 18 years ago


The below blog post shows another striking characteristic of artists working in the new world. Shaun Groves comments (or confesses) on his use of MySpace and how it all works for him.


Fernando Gros 18 years ago

In terms of the opportunity to meet new people and encounter different ideas, ours if the most radical and disruptive age sine the advent of the industrial revolution. There are a handful others, like the enlightenment and the priting press, the formation of the Roman Empire, the travels of China and that is about it. Oh, let’s not forget Babel.

For a small artist, I like to focus on the positives. When I look back to the struggles I had in the late 80s (and they were legion!), there were so many gatekeepers. These days, you just don’t need to focus on them, you can access your potential market direct, wherever in the world they are. For someone in your position, the potential path for one of your songs being picked up by a worship leader in Sweden or Chile or South Africa is a few mouse clicks. No Christian bookstores, no distributors, no tax and duty, nothing. It could be an idea on paper one day, a song in worship anywhere in the world the next Sunday – that is awesome!

On the other hand, there is a lot of deadwood in the Christian publishing world (music and books) – mediocre work that gets published only because it is “local.” I saw a lot of that in the UK and I’m not sure that seeing those writers struggle and maybe having to up their game is a bad thing at all. Why should the biggest voice be given, by default, to those who happen to live in a country with lots of Christian publishers?

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