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I suggest buying this month's WIRED Magazine and reading the story starting on page 122 a couple times: "The Rise And Fall Of The Hit." It's an excerpt from the upcoming book The Long Tail by Chris Anderson.

It puts forth irrefutable evidence that you're in trouble. The hit is dead. The old way of marketing and thinking about the fan and the artist isn't working anymore.

"Twenty one of the all time top 100 albums [based on sales] were released in the five year period between 1996 and 2000. The nest five years produced only two..." (Norah Jones and OutKast)

Your future, according to Chris, is the niche, open-source, long tail, internet connectivity, consumer empowerment and involvement, Web 2.0 and a lot of other trendy sounding words. Chris warns, "The Internet favors infinite niches, not one-size-fits-all fare. It has as many senders as receivers - it's the opposite of the broadcast. But the entertainment industry won't be able to internalize the lessons of this shift for decades."

So, buy the magazine and the book. Read them both and repeat after me: I will not blame pirates or a lack of radio play for my sagging sales any longer. The world has changed and I have not changed with it. I am to blame. The methods of the past will not work as well today. I will learn a new way, work a new way, and stop whining. I will start today by befriending a fifteen year old with a laptop and a high speed wireless internet connection.


Blogger Randy Webb said...

Just as I was publishing my comment for your last post this one came on.. Has anyone said that blogger is confusing to begin with?

Blogger Kat said...

I was JUST thinking about this. I read in the paper this morning about a working class family who was being sued by the RIAA. Unbeknownst to them, their 12 year old had downloaded a few songs and one movie. When they told their kids about the suit, he told them that he found them on the internet and thought it was cool that he could get it for free.

Now his family faces thousands of dollars in court fees and possible penalties.

Frankly, I got seriously miffed after I read the story. I'm not saying it's ok to download songs, movies or programs that we haven't paid for however, suing families has got to be the most inane thing that the recording and/or film industry could possbily do.

It just shows me that they're too lazy to think and be creative. It shows me that there are a bunch of old fuddy duddy's in a board room that are clinging to the old way of doing things instead of embracing change. It shows me that their system is on the way out.

When businesses start to think and act defensively instead of creatively, they'd better start packing their boxes.

Suing 12 year olds is not going to benefit anyone or change anything.

The internet has revolutionized the business world. It provides many new opportunites as well as many new pitfalls. The recording industry has got to stop sticking it's head in the sand and thinking that there won't be growing pains. There will be a lot of growing pains - guaranteed. But if the business branch of the artistic world is going to survive, its going to need to reinvent itself.

The tables of power have flipped. The consumer is king. Artists can control their careers and labels will have to be creative to keep their share of the pie.

Sorry to be so harsh, but as a mom I get pretty riled up when a big company blames their failing business model on kids.

That's just my 2 cents.

Blogger Kat said...

Here's a quote I just read that is applicable to this post:

"Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary."
~ Cecil Beaton

Blogger Davidge said...

I'm not fifteen and I don't have a laptop...
How about a computer repair and webdesign bussiness?
does that count?
I'm glad that you're one of the people that understands that the future is here.

Blogger Kathryn said...

i saw a documentary recently which highlighted new trends in advertising. The experts interviewed were saying that for them print is on the way out, internet is their new frontier. I can see that on my server's home page. . advertisements and such. Its really cool. . especially for me as a middle-aged person who remembers WAY pre all of this!!!

Blogger Loren said...

On a similar topic there is a good piece in GQ about how mom-rock is changing music...either mainstream is taking a page from CCM or our marketing dept's had a fresh idea...I'm just waiting for my own fresh idea!

Blogger Miriel said...

As a 17 year old...I would say make myspace one of your best friends. A lot of artists have become very popular through myspace, and it's pretty much the way for teens to check out new music.

Blogger Jesse said...

"The world has changed and I have not changed with it."

lol - I can't agree more! It's unreal how music, and how we listen/ connect to music, is changing. In a sense it seems like live shows are the primary connecting point with the audience, while sites like MySpace become the marketplace where you can "sell" yourself and your music, and where people can browse to find artists that they enjoy.

Perhaps gone are the days when you simply rely on a major label and a cd to create a music career? I hope to think that the change is mostly positive, although I'm sure there are some pitfalls to overcome as well.

Blogger Shaun Groves said...

"Career" also has to be redefined. I don't think, no matter how great the music is and the myspace exposure is, that "career" for an indie artist can be defined as award winning, press-covered, radio played, mtv played etc. An indie won't get the attention, fame and fortune a big big artist in the label system once got. Part of this is because what has replaced "hits" is the niche. Derek Webb could become the biggest fish in the small pond of non-Republican Reformed Christians 19-30 but even he won't sell as many records and "seem" as popular and "successful" to everyone outside his pond as Jeremy Camp will being just another large fish in the large pond of artists catering to 18-50 evangelicals in the southeast United States. Make sense? I think I just confused myself.

My point, I think, is that indies, I'm learning, have to define success and career differently than labels currently do. I'll never win an award while indie, or be on K-LOVE or WAY-FM or be on the cover of a big magazine. But I might serve my niche very well and have to have a second job and call that kind of life a career. A label artist would never call bivocation, selling 10K CDs a career. They'd call it "about to be dropped."

Blogger Jesse said...

Very true.

There's an artist in my hometown (Mark Perry) who I see as being very successful, however he will never make a living just doing music fulltime. Yet, his music is widely known throughout Northern BC, and especially in my hometown of Smithers. In music business terms he's a nobody, but to those in the region, he's a house hold name. So in that way he's serving his niche extremely well.

I wonder if there's a difference in being an independent artist in Canada compared to the States? I think of an independent like Greg Szcebel who won a Juno Award eventhough he was unsigned, and relativly new to the music scene. Mind you the pool of gospel artists in the running for the Juno's is quite small. But it makes me wonder none the less.

Blogger Dale Baker said...

I've been reading alot of Bob Lefsetz's emails...if you don't subscribe to him you should...he's been talking the way you are for a long time now. Viva La Music Revolucion' or something to that effect. Great blog by the way!

Anonymous Dan da Man said...

Check this out. You don't need to pick up the magazine anymore. Now it's online. Just read the story online at Wired's site. I'm gonna read it now and might have to post comments after.


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