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Blog // Thoughts
September 3, 2006

The Future of Music

I have been meaning for some time to review this book (in fact the draft of this review has sat in my blog’s draft section for 15 months!). The Future of Music is a book by the co-developer of MIDI and current VP of BerkleeMusic, Dave Kusek and musician/music futurist Gerd Leonhard. I was first […]

I have been meaning for some time to review this book (in fact the draft of this review has sat in my blog’s draft section for 15 months!).

The Future of Music is a book by the co-developer of MIDI and current VP of BerkleeMusic, Dave Kusek and musician/music futurist Gerd Leonhard. I was first introduced to the ideas in the book when I took the excellent Berklee course, The Future of Music and the Music Business. You can find a good summary of the arguments here some section are available for free download here (look for the articles authored by Dave Kusek) and of course, there is a blog as well.

Digitisation of both music production and music distribitution is changing the industry. One of the key ways that musicians can learn to cope with this is to understand the difference between the music business and the recording business. The music business involves making music – the record business involves selling a physical product in a predetermined package, which contains music.

The record business is dying. That’s bad news for people who make their living selling records, but most musicians make little, if any revenue from record sales.

Think about it.

The collapse of the record industry, the album format and the single model need not mean the demise of music publishing, either in terms of performance, or subsequent use (like film and TV). Moreover, the record industry, as it has existed, serves only a very few musicians. Many albums only see little or no revenue, or even cause musicians to go backwards financially. What has not changed in a long time is that the best sources of revenue for musicians are either live performance, or teaching. Moreover, placement of music in film, advertising or television is a far better and more lucrative revenue stream than record sales.

In many ways, The Future of Music resonates with The Long Tail – music marketing will become more and more about smaller niche brands (both labels and artists). I find this exciting, because it means by pasing so many of the gatekeepers that exist in the music business (especially Christian music).

The two elements I found missing in The Future of Music were a better analysis of how new opinion-leading would happen in the digital age and how the new musician as brand model would work. On the first, we are seeing how Web 2.0 applications are giving us the collective conversation on music.

But on the latter, I’m still unsure. However, when musicians start to look to records and dowloads as a strategy to acheive other core goals (like more gigs, greater publicity, better networks, or other opportunties), the revenue and sales equation changes. The fact is there has never been a better time for niche musicians to get their music out there and known.

[tags] The Future of Music, Dave Kusek, The Long Tail [/tags]

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