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The EvO:R Street Journal
The EvO:R Street Journal
Dedicated to the culture, business and interests of the indie artist.
EVJ delivers controversial points of view, hard-news commentary, Industry Insites,
artistic prose and photography and welcomes responses (pro or con),
feedback and topic suggestions from readers. If you would like to
submit an opinionated article, inspired poem, photo or essay to EVJ,
forward all copy to Editor ESJ and
put To the Editor in the subject field.
Where did the music industry go so wrong?
By Patrick Faucher
Published: March 15, 2007, 4:00 AM PDT
Wasn't it all so gloriously simple back when people listened to top 40 radio and
obediently paid $20 for discs at record store chains?
Labels set the deal terms for artists. Managers handled the "biz." The touring circuits were
maintained by well-mannered warlords that politely divvied up the venues. And everyone had
their place in the pond.
So where did it all go wrong with the music business? Somehow, the pond became stagnant over
time, mucked up with greed, laziness, contempt and excess. People got bored with music. Then,
someone threw a rock into the middle of it called the Internet, and nothing will ever be the
same. Today, anyone can hum a tune, mix it with a rhythm track and some samples on their Mac
at home, put it up on MySpace.com, and end up with a publishing deal from Moby, which will
then sell it to the next Super Bowl sponsor.
Somehow, the pond became stagnant over time, mucked up with greed, laziness, contempt and
excess. The industry has become decentralized. Major labels no longer have the market muscle
or control over the distribution channels as they once did. Technology and consumer choice
have caused a shift from the traditional music business model of major labels throwing copious
amounts of money behind a few big hits to that of a vast collection of individual artists
creating pockets of more moderate success among passionate fan bases.
This shift requires a different approach to the development and monetization of music by
the producers and promoters--one that more directly resembles that of more traditional
venture-backed business. The entrepreneurs (artists) create new intellectual property
(music, artistic brand) that has a demonstrated market (fans) that is robust enough to
attract investors (for example, a label) that wants to own some equity in that IP and
wishes to put money into the asset to enable it to engage in value-building activities
(distribution, merchandising, licensing, and so on). Oddly enough, this "new" model
is, in fact, not new.
We've all heard of The Grateful Dead, Phish, Ani DiFranco, Aimee Mann and the Barenaked
Ladies. These great artists have grassroots beginnings. They all employed clever uses
of the technology available to them at the time to find fans and create direct distribution
channels (from bootleg cassettes and toll-free phone orders to MP3s and e-mail distributions).
Using these methods, these "artist-entrepreneurs" have circumvented the traditional channel
gatekeepers and have blazed a trail for the rank-and-file working artists and the weekend
warriors to follow.
ESJ is looking for writers/poets for our next issues.
All work is appreciated and will be published (with the exception
of articles containing racism, bigotry or other demeaning topics)
Also, this is a PG-13 rating and will be censored if you do not edit
it. Please e-mail The EvO:R Street Journal.