Why Mainstream Can Kill
Last week Starbucks announced that it was leaving the music business. Sales have been shockingly low: one journalist calculated that they add up to about two CDs per store, per day. Why did this fail so spectacularly? Paul Resnikoff argues that the Paul McCartney-and-Alicia Keyes combination was too mainstream to be interesting to consumers. Starbucks was more effective when they highlighted talented but unknown artists. He compares that model to music in the video game industry, which prides itself on being cutting edge. Digital Music News, April 24thread more
A little while ago, we posted a recap of FMC’s adventures at this year’s South By Southwest. You may recall us mentioning a panel called “Mobility, Ubiquity and Monetizing Music,” which was moderated by FMC Board member Bryan Calhoun and featured advisory board members Jim Griffin, Peter Jenner and Sandy Pearlman, as well as entertainment attorney Dina LaPolt and Eric Garland, founder of BigChampagne. read more
But recent developments at the majors indicate a willingness to explore new avenues in music access and distribution. It remains to be seen which, if any, of these “experimental” models will gain traction, or if they will be fair to all artists. read more
We usually post these on Friday afternoons. So we’re either late or early, depending on how you think about it…
Can 1,000 fans replace the music business?
Kevin Kelly thinks so. He argues that a musician can make a perfectly good living with just $1,000 “True Fans” who are truly dedicated. He assumes that each is willing to spend $100 a year, netting the artist a nifty upper-middle class salary even without being immensely popular. And “Lesser Fans” who will pay out less still add to the income. Kevin Kelly, The Techniumread more
A full version of This Week in News will be out on Friday, but here are a few highlights from last week.
Should musicians be paid by social network sites?
After AOL bought social networking site Bebo for $850 million, songwriter Billy Bragg wonders why artists don?t receive royalties. He reasons that musicians help attract users, and the sale of the website for such a staggering sum clearly indicates that these users have significant monetary value. New York Times, March 22ndread more
We found an interesting article in the latest edition of Wired about a new system for indie acts to deliver tracks to radio stations that rely on automation to manage their playlists. Well, it’s not a new system, exactly — major labels and commercial radio have been using it for years.
As Wired scribe Eliot Van Buskirk writes, “indie musicians have been at a disadvantage when it comes to delivering music to larger stations… because the major labels use something called Digital Media Distribution System (DMDS) to send new tracks to stations digitally and securely (to minimize leaks).” read more
Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief of Wired Magazine, is known for his clear-headed analysis of emerging business models. He’s the guy that analyzed Amazon’s success in his now frequently-cited book, The Long Tail. His latest article, which he plans to expand into a new tome next year, explores the future of business models based on the concept of not paying money for stuff. read more
We typically run our "This Week in News" round-ups on Fridays, but we were running a little behind last week, so we posted it yesterday. But the noteworthy stories just kept coming. So consider this your music/biz/tech/policy after dinner mint. read more
A new study (PDF) by NYU/Stern professor Vasant Dhar indicates that blog buzz has a strong correlation with album sales. The study looked at blog posts, changes in an artist’s number of MySpace friends, and online album reviews over an eight-week period — half before an album was released, half after.
The study found that increases in MySpace friends had a slight positive correlation to album sales. More significantly, artists who received ample attention from major blogs seemed to “move more units,” as they say in the biz. read more