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  1. #1
    Sinner's Swing!
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    Default The Music Business Must Evolve

    Todd Rundgren recently gave a lecture about the way the music business could evolve with the times. He sees music as a service, not a product. Essentially his posit is to distribute music in the same way a cable company distributes programming. I see it as a flawed argument. I want to own my records. I might want to play the same song on a record 100 times, but I don't think I would ever replay a movie or cable TV show in the same way.

    Anyway, here's the lecture. I know it was delivered to record industry people in LA, but I'm not sure of the exact occasion. IT'S 25 MINUTES LONG, but quite an interesting video.

    Thoughts?

    http://fora.tv/2008/12/13/Todd_Rundg...stry_to_Evolve
    Mr. Horseradish courtesy of the International Horseradish Council and Brett.

  2. #2
    Atomic Punk
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    I'm at work and can't watch such a long video right now, but I will watch it this weekend.

    Here are a couple of general thoughts i have on the "music industry."

    The web has been one of the best things to ever happen to it...that and affordable digital home recording.

    Before record companies and terrestrial radio had sole discretion over what people heard. If you wanted to "make it" as an original artist you had to shop yourself around and hope that the right guy was in the audience for the right show at the right time or that your cassette got into the right hands of the right guy at the right label at the right time. For all the records that were distributed and all the bands that landed even a bit of label support and got on a tour, there were millions of groups that no one will ever hear of either because their demo didn't get picked up or they never had the resources to even make one in the first place. Back then getting a demo meant real studio time which meant and still means real money. Back then the face of a "successful artist" was on Mtv and that was pretty much that. "Making it" meant something very specific.

    Nowadays music has become more populist. ANYONE can spend a couple hundred bucks and get home recording equipment, spend nothing and upload it to MySpace and youtube and all of the sudden the little songwriter from nowhere USA or the no-name band from whoknowswhere USA has a real audience.

    Now there is a whole group of musicians living off their craft, touring, recording, writing, distributing and marketing their music on their own terms without having to compromise their vision. They may not sell a million copies and they may not sell out stadiums, but they don't need to. Combine that with the fact that TV shows ranging from Friday Night Lights to WWE to every show on the CW actively searches for original music from groups and songwriters to use as part of their soundtracks and marketting, add to that the advent of unsigned artist channels on XM/Sirius, add to that the fact that digital downloads allow an artist to sell their music without even having to invest in pressing actual copies of their music, and you have everything necessary for a musician to reach an audience AND JUST AS IMPORTANTLY for the audience to discover an artist that suits their needs/wants/preferences.

    That's why I think terms like "underground" and "alternative" are no longer relative. Everything is alternative and everything that was once underground is mainstream. Music has gone the way of magazines. Where as a few generations ago there were only a couple of national magazines now we can go into an entire store devoted to selling magazines with as varying and specific topics and themes as we can imagine. In media studies they call it "the demassification of the media" and it has occurred with TV, Magazines and now music. I see nothing but good.

    Gone are the days where we can complain about what the radio stations push down our throats, or why don't "good bands" make it because that's just not the case anymore. Sure there are major mainstream groups that we're not going to like because they don't appeal to us but there's ALWAYS something else on. Just like the statement "there's nothing good on TV" doesn't ring true anymore, the same is true about the radio dial. There are just too many options and choices between terrestrial radio, satellite and internet radio.

    Now when I think of the "music industry" I think of the old guard and yeah, they need to evolve and change. They still own and operate the major distribution avenues and still have a great deal of say in who takes the step from successful to super-successful and they're always going to make those choices based on what they think they can sell and make profit from. Today there's less guess work for them if you think about it. They can handpick from artists who have developed followings all by themselves and elevate them. Bands are already doing this on their with so many "fests" going on. The labels need to figure out new ways to continue to be relevant, I see that as becoming more of a distribution/mgt/promotion machine than what they've been traditionally. Now more than ever, labels are in a situation where they can really cultivate artists and create communities where their artists and their audiences can interact. They're going to have to come up with a way of attracting artists to join them as opposed to the other way around because most services a label can provide an artist can provide themselves. It'll be interesting to see how things take shape.

    I see nothing but good on the horizon for music in general. As long as there are talented inspired people making it and a hungry audience wanting to hear it, they will always find each other..now it's easier than ever...BUT it's incumbent upon the artists to take responsibility for themselves and not wait for the mythical A/R guy or Gene Simmons to be in the crowd one night and it's incumbent upon the audience members to take responsibility for themselves and actually seek out good music AND REWARD IT by purchasing music, merchandise etc. It's a two way street.

    if the artist continues to wait for someone else to do the work for them and be "discovered" instead of getting out there and taking advantage of every tool available, chances are they're not going to get out of the garage. If the audience members just sit back and rattle off the staid and very cliche cynical one liners about all the good bands being held back and real musicians getting shafted in favour of Brittney Spears and the Jonas Brothers and pine for the days when there was "good music" on the air, then they're never going to hear anything than what they hear.

    Making yourself heard, and finding something to listen to are both active endeavours, not passive.

  3. #3
    Eruption
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    Free music, double the price of concerts. That's what is gonna happen.

  4. #4
    Sinner's Swing! twonabomber's Avatar
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    for a long time, the labels have claimed that for every band that makes it, there are ten that they lose money on. sounds like a business based on failure to me. hard to feel sorry for them.

    i still think that if they made some of the stuff that has been out of print available for legal download that they'd make a mint. with storage so cheap now and the proven success of iTunes and other sites there isn't any reason for anything to be out of print. i've still got a bunch of cassettes i'd like to have clean digital copies of, i can't be the only one willing to trade up.
    "is this a good show tonight, or fuckin' what?" - DLR, Montreal, 11/10/07

    Toronto 10/7...Cleveland 10/10...Toronto 10/12...Montreal 11/10

  5. #5
    Sinner's Swing!
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    Quote Originally Posted by broken9500 View Post
    ...
    You make excellent points, Broken. From a musician's stand point, things are much more possible if they have the energy, smarts, and talent to get out there. DIY or die.

    The one thing about the traditional industry that I'm sure has the old guard freaking out as they grapple with change is the intellectual property aspect of the biz, the ownership of song rights, trademarks, publishing, distribution channels, even images. For the better part of the 20th century, record companies, publishing companies, and the like have been able to acquire the rights to so many things that, in a just world, they would have no business owning (or at least it could be argued). When you hear stories from the old days about an artist getting pennies on the dollar for royalties on a song they wrote/performed/recorded while the record and publishing companies get the lions share, its no wonder that executives of the traditional industry are resistant to change. That change means they have to find another "golden goose".

    It is certainly interesting times. I, like you Broken, think there is a bright future for music. To your point, we as consumers need to adapt as well and be proactive in finding that music. I, for one, love all the new outlets for music (Sat. radio, internet radio, blogs, forums like this one). The bulk of my music collection, be it CD's or MP3's on my IPOD, I found via places way off the beaten path that I would have never found in traditional avenues.

  6. #6
    Sinner's Swing! twonabomber's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by looper_guy View Post
    When you hear stories from the old days about an artist getting pennies on the dollar for royalties on a song they wrote/performed/recorded while the record and publishing companies get the lions share, its no wonder that executives of the traditional industry are resistant to change.
    and after hearing those stories, it's also hard to feel bad for the labels...
    "is this a good show tonight, or fuckin' what?" - DLR, Montreal, 11/10/07

    Toronto 10/7...Cleveland 10/10...Toronto 10/12...Montreal 11/10

  7. #7
    ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ Number 47's Avatar
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    TODD!!!


  8. #8
    Sinner's Swing!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Number 47 View Post
    TODD!!!

    A buddy of mine called Todd Rudgren a "one hit wonder" ("Hello Its Me"). I suppose from a certain, uninitiated perspective that may be true but he's certainly been far more prolific and successful than, say, Right Said Fred.

  9. #9
    Sinner's Swing! Bullwinkle's Avatar
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    Default

    I got my first gig as a full-time guitar teacher back in 1988. (Before CDs even!)
    Back then, I taught so many lessons on how to play Metallica's And Justice for All, Guns 'n' Roses Appetite for Destruction and, later, Metallica's black album, that I memorized all three albums.
    I've never owned a copy of any of those albums and, to this day, if you name a song on any of them, I can play it.

    Basically, every student of mine, and all their friends, were listening to the same thing.

    Nowadays, I have over 4000 songs on my mp3 player, and I still don't have every song that my students request. Every week, I am introduced to three or four new songs I've never heard, recorded by bands I've never heard of.
    I ask my students how they heard of these bands, and I get a variety of replies; usually they heard it from a friend, or they found it on MySpace or YouTube or Pandora.

    I don't really care if it's good or bad for the music industry, it's certainly good for music. That's what's important to me.
    The technological revolution has brought music to the same level as painting. Not everyone can be a Rembrandt, but everyone can have the same opportunities to produce art that he had. All you need is a paintbrush and a piece of paper, or, in this case, a guitar and a laptop.







    Don't read this.

  10. #10
    Hang 'Em High
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Elfoid_TFS View Post
    Free music, double the price of concerts. That's what is gonna happen.
    They've doubled enough times already I think. I'm with Yesterdays, I want to own my records, and I'm very proud of the 300-400 I do own.

  11. #11
    Sinner's Swing!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bullwinkle View Post

    I don't really care if it's good or bad for the music industry, it's certainly good for music. That's what's important to me.
    The technological revolution has brought music to the same level as painting. Not everyone can be a Rembrandt, but everyone can have the same opportunities to produce art that he had. All you need is a paintbrush and a piece of paper, or, in this case, a guitar and a laptop.
    Actually, that's the starting point of Rundgren's lecture. To paraphrase, up until less than 90 years ago music was a service. There was nothing tangible to capture music, it was written and played live. He actually gave a prototype sound producing gadget to four acclaimed record producers to see what the different finished products would sound like and each had very different criteria as to what constituted a finished composition.
    Mr. Horseradish courtesy of the International Horseradish Council and Brett.

 

 

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