Beat-Play Response to Agency Record article: The Music Industry Is Dying, But That’s OK.

Following is my response to a very interesting article I actually posted on this blog yesterday: The Music Industry is Dying, But That’s Okay. I commented on the article and received a response from the author that sparked some interesting points.
BeatPlay's avatar - Go to profile
In my opinion, subscription services will never work. First of all, it costs nothing to reproduce a digital song for retail. There’s no printing, no packaging, no shipping. Second of all it’s naive to think that if a song is popular, people won’t be able to get it for free. Why even support an option where you leave yourself open to piracy, especially when there is an alternative. Remember, people online DO have a choice or paid…same content, personally I choose free, but I don’t download my music, I stream it, leaving opportunities for ad revenue to be generated.The alternative to pay is free, direct to consumer. Think about it, people WILL get it for free if it’s popular. Why not give it our directly if you’re the artist, then you can finally track ALL of your fans for the first time, and then you can use those increased numbers to get you ad revenue.

Don’t mean to plug but this model is in beta now, I am currently developing it. We will help artists negotiate with the advertisers for just prices for their ad space. Artists will use their popularity as leverage and set their own prices, giving them full control over their career. We also offer some pretty innovative methods of music discovery that will increase the level of efficiency artists get out of promotion online, by using recommendations from friends and people you trust.

Effective promotion & distribution coupled with a system for negotiating with advertisers for ad space, could spell a very independent and healthy music industry ahead online. Like you said, it’s about innovation, but it’s also about facing facts, realizing trends, and capitalizing on them to swing the momentum back in your favor.

Thanks for the comments!I guess I may not of been clear, I wrote that the music itself can’t be controlled. It is free, everyone has access to it now. I was trying to point out that the best way for labels, bands and their advertisers to leverage the opportunity that the web brings – is to innovate and create new streams of content.

Like I said:

Fully interactive experiences where consumers are paying to access each additional stream of content, in my opinion, is the key. I could see a lot of truly interactive efforts launching over the next few years that help to improve sales for the artists and labels as well as enhancing the relationship between the consumers and the artists.

What if the your favorite band launched an app that included an audio stream of what the band themselves actually listen to, where you could rate and suggest tracks to the artist? An app that you brought with you to concerts that streamed the live concert you are at to your phone, so that those at the concert who are out in the nose bleeds could get the live, close up experience as well – call it Concert Binoculars.

I really like the idea you have set in motion, its very creative way to re-monetize an existing access stream to bands and their music. What I was emphasizing was the need for new streams and/or access points to the bands and their media, rather then the re-monetization of current models.

What do you think?


BeatPlay's avatar - Go to profileBeatPlay2p· 1 day ago

I think that if we could create a system where we can properly monetize the existing content, then we wouldn’t need to find new ways, however I do think this shift will mean adopting new technologies and new user interfaces with more refined user connection and recommendation than what is currently in place, in order to finally be in a position to prosper strictly off of mp3’s or, even better in my opinion, high quality streams.The internet is really not set up to handle music right now. That is why we’re in the predicament we’re in right now. The web is a fundamentally visual medium. It’s easy to post a picture of your new painting as your facebook icon for everyone to see, but if you tried just playing your music everywhere you go without asking, you would get blocked pretty fast. Most sites don’t even give you the choice to do this because it’s considered audio spam.

So there actually needs to be a shift in online technologies before a solution for music can be reached. All other music websites up until now have accepted the standard web layout and have just used what was there, but this doesn’t really leave enough slack for music to succeed properly. There needs to be innovation tailored to music. It all comes down to the end user in the music world – the fans. That’s ultimately who you want to reach so you need to solve their problems in order to solve yours. If you can innovate how fans are able to discover music (that they will like!) you will have solved a large chunk of the problem.

That is what my company is working on. We approach it by using people you trust, your friends and your favorite artists, to recommend songs to you. You “follow” these people, and anything they like enough to save into their own playlists(essentially vouching for it) automatically gets sent to your radio. It’s actually very similar to your band app example. Then if you like a song enough to save, it automatically gets sent to anyone following you. It’s essentially a viral, automated word of mouth, the best kind of discovery for fans, and also happens to be a source of free promotion and distribution for artists (as long as their music is good) It levels out the playing field and gives talented artists a better chance to succeed in the ocean of artists regardless of their connections or budgets. Link this together with the advertising revenue for the artists and the free music for the fans, and you’ve built a system to actually use file sharing as a driving force for direct artist revenue instead of a limiting one, eventually making piracy irrelevant.

When you talk about access, from the consumer standpoint again, it’s all about ease, and ease means 1 one place for all things music, (think iphone as the ultimate multi tool) including new kinds of access such as live streaming concerts, 3D virtual meet n greets, live fan-artist “press conferences” and whatever else the 3rd party developers want to come up with. It means a new kind of social network. I think that a solution can be reached for music without resorting to profoundly creative new kinds of access, but interestingly enough, once you have solved that fundamental problem, you’ve then actually positioned yourself perfectly for encouraging and implementing new kinds of innovations, just by the nature of the shifts that needed to be made to get there in the first place, and everything else then is just icing on the cake. It’s not yet time to give up on a sustainable model for music, it just means, like everyone has been predicting, a shift away from the labels, to a more independent, practical and self-sustaining online approach.

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