Seth has a way of distilling a problem/conversation/question to its very essence, and his thoughts on the music business are no exception:
The shift that is happening right now is that the people who insist on keeping the world as it was are going to get more and more frustrated until they lose their jobs. People who want to invent a whole new set of rules, a new paradigm, can’t believe their good fortune and how lucky they are that the people in the industry aren’t noticing an opportunity…
If that doesn’t get you psyched about the future, I don’t know what will. One thing we often underestimate is our own ability to define the future. And as a musician or music entrepreneur, one couldn’t ask for a more ripe time to start defining the landscape. Despite all the confusion in the industry and the multitude of people claiming to have the next big solution, the one thing we do know is this: The people who used to call the shots don’t even have a voice anymore. At the same time, independents are empowered like never before.
It’s the aligning of the planets! Even a small but empowered group of go-getter musicians/music entrepreneurs can change the landscape.
This is our chance to run through the legs of the giants and define what kind of ground their oversized feet will touch when they finally catch up (if they do).
The important distinction here is that music labels used to be in the business of grabbing shelf space, on the radio and in the record store. Now, the music industry needs to realign and be in the business of finding and connecting and leading groups of people who want to follow a musician and connect with the other people who want to do the same…
You might be able to cite an example here and there of how the majors are “focusing on fans”, but the fact is they are shooting into the dark. They’re still finding new ways to do what won’t work — download cards in the aisles of grocery stores, lame “music-discovery” sites that only work in certain countries, pre-bundled music on PCs….Borrrrring. Who even cares?
It’s people like Kristin Hersh at CASH Music who lets you download her ProTools files to remix and share. Or Ian Rodgers at TopSpin who let you “Sex Bomb A Friend”. Or Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails who encodes secret messages into his merch that lead you into an alternate reality filled with padlocks, secret societies, and underground resistance movements. Cool.
As one of our Twitter followers, Will Kriski, keeps asking, “Why are we spending so much time looking at what others are doing instead of focusing on what we’re doing?” While it’s important to keep a finger on the pulse of the industry, he’s completely right. Instead of looking to see where they’re going, let’s tell them where to go.
Instead of looking for the next model, just BE the next model.