Tag Archives: future of music

Music Industry Discussion with Skinny Deville of Nappy Roots

This interview turned into an awesome discussion about the state of the music industry, and also about the solutions that are out there waiting to be adopted.

If the video is choppy, turn HD off.

The Pursuit of Nappyness is in Stores & on iTunes Now

Also Nappy Root’s Free Mixtape Nappy University – Fall Semester can be downloaded now at NappyRoots.com

If you would also like to get involved with the Beat-Play beta testing, please go here or contact me at Dante@musicwithoutlabels.com

Music’s Future is Cloudy, But Maybe Not So Different

Same as it ever was:

With talk of the cloud, streams, special proprietary devices that pipe vendor-specific sounds to particular home stereos, intelligent, always-on access to entire music collections, tablets and set-top boxes and … all of that … it can be tough to look into the future of music and audio. I spent the last weekend at Project Bar-B-Q, a mind-bending retreat of audio tech industry sages and engineers, on a team that looked at the issue. It’s not time yet to share those discussions, but as we face the dizzying array of possibilities ahead, this one quote stands out, pointed to me by someone in my BBQ group.

The article is from June, but as “cloud music” talk heats up, it’s worth pasting to your wall. The ever-insightful Sasha Frere-Jones writes for The New Yorker

…the near future of listening to music looks a lot like 1960. People will listen, for free, to music that comes out of a stationary box that sits indoors. They’ll listen to music that comes from an object that fits in the hand, and they’ll listen to music in the car.

Full story: You, the D.J.: Online music moves to the cloud.

I think a corollary is that, even with the big box playing music for free, people will want to own a collection of music and own things they take around with them, alongside the free things. Exactly where that line falls and in what way remains the sticking point.

But why stop at music listening, or even music creation? The idea above could lend perspective to any conversation about design and technology. The dimensions of the virtual, digital universe and its possibilities are indeterminate and difficult to conceive. But the dimensions of human beings are not.

Continue to Full Article from Create Digital Music

How to Promote your Music Without Spamming – Part 2

As you may or may not have read in part 1 of this post, which was almost 8 months ago now, the mainstream industry is a sinking ship. I’d like to dive into that concept a little bit more, because last time I don’t think I went in depth enough about it.

The mainstream industry is a sinking ship, and the independent one is struggling pretty much just as much as it always has. Let’s look at the reasons why.

Having talked to independent artists from all over the world, it’s apparent that no matter where you go, they all have the same problems: Promotion, Distribution, and now Piracy. Piracy doesn’t seem to be as big of a problem for independents, while promotion and distribution doesn’t seem to be as big of a problem for mainstream artists. Nevertheless, these are the Big 3.

It all comes down to the Internet at this point. One can conclude that because the internet has already been responsible for an increase in the amount of options available, in terms of promotion and distribution, for independent artists especially, that this trend will continue. So it is interesting to look at what exactly this will mean for music. It’s also interesting to note that the internet is actually responsible for the piracy problem for the mainstream industry, even though it has proven to have been a positive force for indie artists.

The trick is now to get a solution that solves all three problems, because even though independents aren’t plagued by piracy as much right now, it’s a problem they may be forced to face if they do get more popular, within the current industry model.

The solution starts at the root – the internet. It may seem like the internet has attributed to many advances in indie promotion and distribution such as Myspace, iTunes, and Tunecore, but you must also look at it like this: The internet right now is also responsible for any limitations that still exist online. There is a great potential that has not been reached yet with online technology, and so all the problems that artists have these days – the big 3 – are all caused by the internet.

So how do you solve this? Do we fix the internet? …Yes. It may sound weird, but the internet does not work as good as it could, and in fact, the internet is not properly set up to handle music right now. There is a lot of potential left that has not been reached. Within this potential is a solution to piracy as well.

The internet is a visual medium, inherently, and so there are many more tools for other visual mediums online than there are for auditory ones right now, meaning that it’s easier to promote a visual medium online at the moment. For example, if you’re a photographer, you could change your Facebook profile picture every day if you wanted to and just leave a couple posts and people would be introduced to your work in its full glory.

In a world where music is a huge part of people’s everyday lives, relying on an environment that until this point has been primarily based on visual mediums, to support not only the music itself, but the whole industry as well, is a huge problem that needs to be fixed, both for the fans and for the artists. Think about this..right now, besides recommendation engines like Pandora, that mainly only work for artists that are already known, the only way to hear someone’s music is to click on a link.(This mainly applies to independents – the majority of the industry)

No matter where you go online, there must be a translation of your piece of audio content – your music, into this visual world. So this music that can sometimes be incredibly original and incredibly outstanding, is reduced to a link or small icon if you’re lucky, that could never even begin to represent all of the complexity in that piece of music, and that may in fact strike an incredible resemblance to every other link on the web. It is because of this system that there is a mass influx of links to people’s music, and the inability to sort them or categorize them in any certain way means that these links can become essentially spam. You probably see them all the time if you have a facebook or myspace page. Everybody wants you to check out their music…and maybe you do one day, and you hate it. It will probably deter you from ever clicking on one of those links again, and at that point, all the links become full-fledged spam for that user.

So how do you translate music into this visual world without stripping it of all of it’s meaning? You don’t. You build an audio world along side the visual one. A platform – a community online – a website – that is streamlined to handle music – serving as enhanced music discovery for the fans, and enhanced promotion and distribution for the artists as a result.

So now that the underlying problem of the internet’s inadequacy has a solution  – I give you the without spamming part – and the piracy part. Let’s go back to the Pandora model: the recommendation engine. This model is void of spam (unless you’re talking about their audio ads) because the music is selected for you and just plays. There are no links to follow – the music plays, and if you like it, you can vote it up, if you don’t you can vote it down. This is a pretty cool system but it could be a lot better. Pandora’s algorithm for recommendation is somewhat limiting. Personally I listen to dozens of different genres, sometimes all mashed together to form new genres specific to certain artists. Typing in an artist’s name or a song can put some serious limits on the stream of music that gets played, so it’s all about making a better recommendation engine.

The best way I can see, is to use a person’s friends or favorite artists – people they trust – to make the recommendations for them. If a user’s friends like a song enough to save into their own playlist, it should automatically get sent to your radio. Let your social network filter the music for you! This will always give you better recommendations because the music is not only coming from people you trust, but those people are just as complex as you are, where as an algorithm is forced to develop more standard ways of recommendation across all people, leaving the experience to lack any sense of a real custom experience.

This viral, automatic word of mouth spread of the music would mean that as long as the music was good, it would spread automatically. Now imagine this radio being a little toolbar that sits at the top of your screen all the time, and there’s a small, unobtrusive, let’s say postage stamp size ad associated with it.

As an artist, your music just plays on people’s radio. As a fan, music suiting your tastes just plays for you. You no longer have to search for it, and bands no longer have to promote it, as long as the music is good. If you give away the full quality stream for free, and perhaps even a free download on this website, there would be no reason for people to go to a torrent to get it and risk getting a virus. Offer them a completely safe way to access your music directly from you! Then, depending on your popularity from this new free viral promotion, you can leverage any views and plays for advertising revenue. This would effectively transform piracy from a hindrance to artist revenue, into an actual driving force for it. The more the music is played, downloaded, and spread, the more leverage for revenue the artist has.

Then the ideal situation would be the community, or website, contributing to making it easier for the artists to negotiate with the advertisers for their ad space, allowing them to set their own prices and approve sponsors. Also all while maintaining full control over their musical rights and freedoms. Does such a place exist you may ask? I wish – and that’s why I’m building it.

We’re in beta right now. Here’s a screen shot below. It’s called Beat-Play, and it will be (free) promotion and distribution without spam, as well as will be a solution to piracy, as well as will give independent artists the tools they need to be successful in their careers without a label, as well as give fans a better way to find music, as well as act as a catalyst to the organic growth and ongoing evolution of the music industry in a natural and healthy way for everyone.

We will be open to the public hopefully by January 2011 if everything goes as planned. Until then, as in the last post, my advice is just to keep making great music. Spam as a problem for artists will be history soon enough, along with their other promotion and piracy problems. The playing field is being leveled out, and the only thing that will determine an artist’s success then is the quality of their music…not a budget or connections. Plan for the future – make great music, and you’ll be fine!

Written by: Dante Cullari – Founder & President Beat-Play, LLC


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 now..free 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.

Streams vs. .mp3’s: Why Streams Own

Streams will become the new mp3’s for 4 simple reasons.

Reason #1: The only reason to really download music anymore is to put it on a mobile mp3 player like an iPod or a Zune.

Reason #2: Streaming Recommendation sites like Grooveshark, last.fm and Pandora have become extremely popular, and these sites have begun making apps for a range of mobile smart phones and mobile computers, which can easily take the place of simple mp3 players.

Reason #3: Streaming eliminates the need to store all that data on a phone or computer, which leaves room for more cool apps, and you don’t have to worry about back ups, or losing it all!

Reason #4: No fear of lawsuits, and actually a way for artists to get paid via advertising revenues. The streaming method happens to be trackable thanks to it’s marriage with the internet. This can provide artists with better information about how and when their music is shared or played, and could allow artists to get paid ANYTIME their music is played, if the switch is made from downloads to streams.

From an artist’s perspective it’s the perfect solution, and from a fan’s perspective it’s the perfect solution too, because if the artist gets paid from ads while streaming, then the music should be free for the fans!

Problems Holding Streaming Back:

1. The lack of proliferation of web-connected mobile devices. Once the price of these things comes down a little, and they figure out better ways to hook them up to your car stereo, streaming will easily be a top choice.

2. The ads associated with the streaming sites are often annoying and obtrusive, with audio interruptions and flashy oversized banners. The solution here is a switch to small, unobtrusive logo icons that just sit there quietly in the corner of the player, but are very appreciated for allowing the fans to get the music for free.

It will be interesting to see what new innovations in this field emerge in the next couple years. My prediction: Streams will be the big adoption of this decade, due to accessibility, sharability, and simple practicality.

Written by: Dante Cullari Founder & President Beat-Play, LLC

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