Tag Archives: future of music

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs*

The thing about predictions is that if they’re right no one really notices.

Consider: You are planning a day in the park. The goofy guy on the local TV news says that the weather will be “partly sunny.”

So you go to the park.

It rains.

You’re pissed and mutter some things about that weathercaster’s mother.

It is fully sunny.

You don’t even remember the weather prediction.

There have been a number of predictions made that were never realized in history.

In 2007, when he was running Microsoft, Steve Ballmer said there was “no chance” that the iPhone would gain any market share. There is the distinct possibility that you are reading this on an iPhone.

John Philip Sousa, the composer of the rousing marches, thought that recorded music would proliferate in people’s homes (true) but with the consequence that no one would want to learn the art and craft of creating music (false).

Then there is Dick Rowe, who worked for Decca Records in London, who told Brian Epstein in 1962, “The Beatles have no future in show business.”

Predictions are precarious things.

Ted Gioia is, according to tedgioia.com, “a musician and author, and has published eleven non-fiction books. . . . His books have been translated into Spanish, Italian, German, Greek, Turkish, Korean, Chinese, and Japanese. Gioia’s wide-ranging activities as a critic, historian, performer, educator and YouTube presenter have established him as a leading global guide to music past, present and future.”

And on the subject of the future, Mr. Gioia has written a piece on his Substack site, “12 Predictions for the Future of Music,” which includes a preemptive warning: “If you earn your living from music, some of these changes might come as a shock.”

Some are provocative. But if you’re able to generate income in the music industry such that you can “earn a living,” odds are (1) these predictions won’t be particularly surprising and (2) you probably have the skillset that would permit you to do practically anything for a living, from bomb disposal to swimming with the sharks.

Continue reading Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs*

It All Started with the Walkman

Home taping is killing music.Former Too Much Joy frontman and current Rhapsody Music V.P. Tim Quirk has analyzed a bunch of Big Champagne’s filesharing data and presents a fascinating article: The Quiet Revolution. The most interesting part, to me, is where Quirk discusses “Tracks Per Fan” (i.e., “how many songs the average fan of a particular artist has in her library”):

Keep in mind that TPF is an average. So, while Bob Dylan has 3.64 tracks per fan, that means some folks have dozens of Dylan songs and some have only one. To put it in mildly embarrassing perspective: I have 423 Dylan tunes on my iPod, which means for every geek like me there have to be 159 people who only have “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” (I originally typed “Like a Rolling Stone,” by the way, but the stats say “Knockin'” is in fact the most widely shared Dylan tune).

That spread of 159 normal people for every 1 completist hoarder suggests labels aren’t losing nearly as much as they claim. Or, rather, if they are it’s not because people are stealing songs they’d have purchased otherwise. It’s because people are no longer paying for songs they never wanted in the first place.

There are so many strange things about the data Quirk presents (Gucci Mane? Aventura?), but what it comes down to is that there’s a lot of room for the music business to turn casual listeners into bigger fans.

Below, I took at look at my own iTunes library to see what kind of music fan I really am…

Continue reading It All Started with the Walkman

On The Media: Facing the (Free) Music

On The Media is a great weekly public radio podcast on everything media. This week, they explore something close to the hearts of Glorious Noise readers – the digital age of music. From Napster to the Pirate Bay, Hank Shocklee to Girl Talk, they break down the past 10 years of the music industry and it’s a really good listen that we highly recommend. Check it out:

MP3: On The Media – Special: The Future of the Music Industry (38.7 MB)

Transcripts: Part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.

Are the Major Labels starting to…get it?

A Vision from a Particular PositionA couple of recent articles have made me wonder if the major labels are finally starting to retract their heads from their asses when it comes to dealing with the internet. Last week, the New York Times reported that music labels are now striking more favorable terms with Web companies, and now we learn that Sony will sell songs that are more than two years old on eMusic. That’s a big deal.

Of course, we’ve seen deals like this before, and what can happen with them. And this statement shouldn’t sit well with potential eMusic customers: “As part of the deal, eMusic says it will slightly raise prices and reduce the number of downloads for some of its monthly plans.” I just logged into my account where I had been getting 40 songs per month for $11.99 (which was a non-standard plan, grandfathered in when they raised the prices on their basic plan from $9.99 to $11.99). Now I see a message saying, “Effective Jul 30, 2009, your plan will change to the new eMusic Basic plan which gives you 30 downloads for $11.99 every 30 days.”

Looks like brand new customers will only get 24 songs/month for $11.99. Which kinda sucks, actually. You can buy used CDs for that. We’ll see how it goes. Still cheaper than iTunes though.

Image by Warren Chappell for the Rockford Papers.

Teenager Pays $20,000 to Hang with Tool

Josh Freese, Thomas Mrzyglocki and studio owner-engineer Tom Weir listen to a track that will probably make its way onto iTunes within the next few months. Photo: Dave Bullock/Wired.comSession drummer Josh Freese has been in Devo, the Vandals, and A Perfect Circle, and he’s played with Nine Inch Nails, Paul Westerberg, Kelly Clarkson, and tons of other bands. He’s also got a solo career, and he came up with a kooky version of the “pay what you want” scheme for his upcoming album with packages ranging from $7 to $75,000.

Little did he know that some dumb 19 year old would actually fork over the dough for the $20,000 package.

To avoid a birthday bummer, the Florida teen treated himself to the $20,000 package, which featured a mini-golf game with Tool singer Maynard James Keenan and Devo front man Mark Mothersbaugh. Freese plays drums in Devo and in one of Keenan’s side projects, A Perfect Circle.

Mrzyglocki’s friends were shocked when he told them what he’d done.

“Their jaws dropped instantly,” he said.

Some tried to reason with him, saying he should buy a car with the money instead, but Mrzyglocki said he’s landed something much more valuable.

“Almost anybody can buy a car,” said Mrzyglocki, who’s a senior in high school. “Only one person gets to buy Josh Freese’s limited-edition package.”

It’s a shame the kid didn’t go for the $75,000 package which included “taking shrooms and cruising Hollywood in Danny from Tool’s Lamborghini.” See the rest of packages after the jump…

Josh Freese: iTunes, Amazon, Insound, wiki.

Continue reading Teenager Pays $20,000 to Hang with Tool

Satanic Messiah EP Available Now

The Mountain Goats - Satanic Messiah EPLast month, we told you about the Mountain Goats’ plans to put out a new double-7″ EP in a “hi-gloss UV gatefold sleeve […] in a limited edition of 666 copies” as a tour only release. Well, the digital download is available now in AAC (256kbps), MP3 (320kbps), AIFF, and FLAC formats. You can pay whatever you think is fair.

All files are available at no cost to the listener; you need not give us your email address or anything. Donations, however, through either PayPal or Google Checkout, are greatly appreciated, and, lest there be any question, are earnestly desired; neither the recording nor the mastering were free, and this site exists as something of an experiment. If you choose to accept these songs, please stop by the collection plate and sow your faith-seed, which, like a grain of mustard, et cetera.

Track list:

1. Sarcofago Live

2. Wizard Buys a Hat

3. Satanic Messiah

4. Gojam Province 1968

This is an exciting time for music fans. Hopefully, the experiment will prove that even bands that don’t have the major label cultivated fanbases of Nine Inch Nails and Radiohead can pull this off with a base of dedicated fans who give a shit about the livelihood of their favorite musicians…

Kanye West – Love Lockdown (version 2)

Kanye West - Love LockdownYou’ve gotta love internet time.

September 7: At the MTV Video Music Awards, Kanye West performs his new song, “Love Lockdown.”

September 10: Kanye posts a studio version of “Love Lockdown” on his blog. 17 pages of comments reveal that many fans preferred the live version.

September 15: Kanye posts a teaser on his blog entitled, “Your prayers have been answered!! There’s a new version of love Love Lockdown coming. We used new taiko drums and I re-sung it… it’s being Mastered now….” Included in the post is the “newer artwork with perfected type 4 all design snobs lol…” and a sidebar: “if you don’t like autotune… too bad cause I love it and have been using it since the College Dropout!!!”

Later the same day, Kanye posts the new studio version of “Love Lockdown.” The commenters seem pleased with the result.

Who knows if this will be the final final version? But if you care at all about the relationship between artists and fans (and you know we do), you’ve got love this story.

Continue reading Kanye West – Love Lockdown (version 2)

New Mountain Goats: Satanic Messiah EP

John Darnielle has announced that The Mountain Goats will be independently releasing a new EP, produced by Scott Solter, entitled Satanic Messiah EP, as a double-7″ in a “hi-gloss UV gatefold sleeve […] in a limited edition of 666 copies,” and only available at shows.

“But wait!” I hear some of you saying. “If I send you some money will you send me a copy?” Let me answer this question once, and once only, and for all time: no. What you will be able to do, though, is download the whole EP from a dedicated site that we’re setting up right now. I hope/expect/pray that the site will be ready within a month or so. The songs will be available in both MP3 and AAC formats at high resolutions, and also, if I can figure out how to make and seed a torrent, as AIFFs, which digitally speaking is the best way to hear them, since Scott Solter is an awesome producer. The downloads will be open to everybody, with no hoops to jump through, though there will also be several options available for those who want to pay me for my work, since part of the point of the exercise is to see whether that’s a viable route for smaller-potatoes-than-Radiohead dudes like me.

Exciting news. Cool to see more bands experimenting with new business models and distribution methods. Darnielle, as a fellow music obsessive, has an unusually open relationship with his fans, regularly getting (deeply) involved in various threads on his zine’s message boards. So I predict that his real fans (myself included) will be willing to support his endeavors.

MP3: The Mountain Goats – “Source Decay” (live in San Francisco, October 23, 2002, courtesy of the Live Music Archive. One of my all-time favorite songs, originally appearing on All Hail West Texas.)

The Mountain Goats: Web, Wiki, eMusic.

Ian Rogers says: Fuck the Police

Internet music guru Ian Rogers challenges the hit-making aspirations of the traditional music industry in his latest post on FISTFULAYEN: Does The New Business Of Music Change The Way Music Sounds?

I was on a panel at Bandwith Conference last week and the “Who is going to play The Staples Center in five years?” question came up again. I answered (again), “Who the fuck wants to see a show at The Staples Center?” Do we judge the health of the music business by how many people are pulling half a mill in a single show at a terrible venue? I don’t. Let me be clear, unless your sole source of music discovery is network television and Radio Disney, I hope you never have to see your favorite band at The Staples Center. I saw Bob Dylan there once. It’s a bummer, only fun for the people counting the money.

Rogers calls up Radiohead, the Dandy Warhols, Rod Stewart, and Paul Westerberg as examples of what happens when artists make music for their fans vs. “making it for a hit in the limited radio marketing channel.”

Niche vs. zeitgeist, I guess. Will there ever be another band that appeals to everybody, both the casual radio listener as well as the discerning music snob? Does it even matter?

MP3: Dandy Warhols – “The World Come On” from Earth To The Dandy Warhols.

How to Make the Major Labels Relevant

In a post called Aloha, Mr. Hands, former Beastie Boys/Nullsoft/Yahoo Music general manager Ian Rogers tells Guy Hands what he would do to change EMI’s new music business:

With the disappearance of advantaged label competencies such as superior production, distribution, and marketing, reconfigure your labels to be based around affinities and focused narrowly enough to serve roughly the same audiences from release to release. The labels would be very small teams responsible for fan cultivation, focused and direct marketing, and A&R. They would rely on EMI for service, support, and tools (generic marketing would happen on the EMI mothership, for example).

Rogers asks the eternal question: “What do Daft Punk, Meat Loaf, KoRn, and The Stooges have in common from an audience perspective? How is there any efficiency in the same marketing team working all of those records (and scads of others just as unaffiliated) in the past year?”

The solution: “I would break these old labels up into new labels which can concentrate on and build the trust of like-minded audiences, post-haste.” There’s more to it than that, of course, and the proposal is well worth reading.