THE CHALLENGES OF THE MUSIC INDUSTRY

1) The music industry has changed because of the internet. The days of music artists requiring record labels, magazines, radio stations, or MTV to become well-known are fading.

2) There are new models evolving and musicians are finding new ways to make a living, whether through fan-financed projects, donors, merchandise sales, sponsorships, or other innovative approaches. While this is empowering for musicians, it’s also overwhelming for them and music fans who want to discover new music.

3) With all these digital changes, the distribution power is shifting from record labels and record stores to online channels like http://www.apple.com/itunes , http://www.amazon.com , http://www.myspace.com , etc. But these are big, corporate entities, too. How much can really be different about who decides who should get attention? Does this defeat the purpose of having a new distribution channel in the internet? What does it mean for independent artists now and in the future and how we, as music fans, will discover new music?

4) As mainstream media outlets struggle with incoming advertising revenue, independent media outlets have sprung up, like music recommendation engines, podcasts, mp3 blogs, bloggers, iphone apps, email alerts, etc.

5) In general, most venture capital firms are interested in funding music-related projects that will increase in value so they can sell them and make a profit. There are numerous companies working without the support of venture capitalism such as http://www.reverbnation.com, http://www.rhapsody.com, and http://www.nimbit.com just to name a few. (As Brad Powell of Calabash Music and Microfundo recently said to me, if these three well-entrenched guys can’t get venture capital support, how will we? While discovery methods like http://www.pandora.com and http://www.last.fm have funding or corporate support, there are far more ventures that operate below the requirements of venture capital firms because they don’t yet have a large user base.

6) There is a growing gap between how musicians used to make a living (either wildly successful or just middle class) and how they are now relying on to make money, through live appearances, merch, licensing, mp3, etc., but ultimately we, as music fans, need to discover them before we can ever spend money with them and keep them going.

7) Instead of a few online corporations becoming the new record labels, wouldn’t the future be better for musicians and music fans if a wide variety of tools and technologies were available?

THE SOLUTION

1) Given the nature of the internet and technology, there are, and will continue to be, hundreds of new tools and technologies for music lovers to discover new music, but these sites and technologies need time to grow their audiences until they can be sustained by advertising, subscriptions, sponsorships, grants, merchandise sales, or whatever ways they can monetize their ideas, just as Pandora has done.

2) Like the start of an entirely new business economy, these developing channels need an initial source of funding that can help bloggers, podcasters, and developers of new technologies turn their part-time passions into full-time jobs. This will be a positive step toward altering the music “business” for independent musicians by sending music fans directly to the musicians themselves where they can sell music or merchandise. This is the business model that www.promusicrecords.com has built. With changes like this, there is a chance there can be middle-class musicians, instead of just the mega-rich and “starving artists.”

3) Instead of leaving it all to chance and having great ideas die on the vine, we, as music lovers, need the help of a handful of “guardian angel” musicians who were successful thanks to the old model and whose generous and philanthropic financial support will help new music start-ups develop new platforms, new models, and new technologies for the benefit of generations of music lovers to discover great music for the next 50 years….Please add your own suggestions of musicians or companies that would be generous of such a cause:





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