For nearly 7 years now I have championed the arrival of music in clouds, the notion of music flowing like water or electricity. I learned this life changing evolution of music from a super smart futurist named Gerd Leonard who wrote the book, The Future of Music http://www.amazon.com/Future-Music-Manifesto-Digital- Revolution/dp/0876390599.
While working at one of the major labels in New York city some 5 years ago, I was astounded that I was frowned upon for not only owning this book but championing it and encouraging adoption of some it’s key points. I knew that was my calling card to move out west where innovation and forward thinking is rewarded, not hindered. During my 4 years in San Francisco, I was so fortunate to meet business and thought leaders from all walks of the digital and mobile world. Companies like Apple, Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft, Amazon, Nokia were all at my backdoor. This immersion, as I like to call it, allowed me to learn skills I never knew I had nor wanted to exploit.
Since my time in San Francisco, I’ve been fortunate to work with several start ups across the board in offering both my old and new school skills. Although I have worked with many companies over that past 7 years, across the board, my passion and bullish stance on streaming music and the companies that will help “filter” these songs in the clouds, is as real as ever. Currently, there are several players in the streaming services game: Spotify, Real Rhapsody, Napster, MOG, Thumbplay, Rdio. The basic take away and/or difference between streaming services and services like Last.fm, Pandora, and Sirius is that you can play songs of your choice, any time you want, when or wherever you are. Last.fm, Pandora, and Sirius are streaming radio/satellite radio where the listener takes a more passive “laid back” approach to consuming music, while subscription services allow you to “lean forward” and experience the music, all of it, by your choosing!
Below are some thoughts that have been in my head for years now and I felt compelled to put down in the best way possible, a blog that lives in the clouds.
- All the worlds music, literally, at your finger tips for 10 dollars a month. This realization will hit consumers around the world in a big way this year, it already has begun in Europe with the ever popular service, Spotify.
- Right now there are 230 million songs being downloaded around the world a DAY via P2P networks. These are networks where because of the penetration of high speed internet, people all over the world can trade and discover music, like never before. This is a huge development for society and one that has not been embraced by copyright holders, even today. This is a staggering number and will never be ceased. All that can be done is to INNOVATE around this societal norm of listening and sharing music, subscription services!
- If your are over 30 years old, much of our lives all we have known is the purchase of a hard copy of music, be it a record, 8-track tape, casette tape, disc or even a download. What was in those record stores was all we thought was out there, which is just the opposite. Currently there are 97million recorded songs in the world and that figure continues to grow every month. iTunes currently has 8 million songs available for download, quite the void here. To the average consumer, this is it. These are the songs gatekeepers deemed the best for you the consumer to download. Which in fact, is far from the reality, according to these hard numbers.
- Music as a product may be on it’s way out, but that’s not the end of record labels. I think labels have a huge opportunity to generate sizable revenue from subscription services, not just from the stream itself (currently a stream generates .01 per play), but also the smart labels will see benefit in capturing sizable revenue from ticket sales and merchandise sales, if not acquiring companies that do this outright. Additionally, smart labels will work hand in hand with brands and agencies to “ride along” with that Kanye West song or that playlist that Red Stripe generated. How on earth can we make money on streams at a .01 rate you ask, check this out. I bought U2’s Joshua Tree the day it came out in 1987 for 12 dollars, the album contained 11 songs. The first year, of course, I wore the disc out. I probably played it everyday for 3 months, once in the AM and once or twice at night, some songs more than others. Let’s look at that modestly: 11 songs, 3 times a day for 90 days ($29 US Dollars - I paid $12 US Dollars). Sure you can poke holes in this and it’s not a true science, just a back of the envelope illustration of the potential. Also of note, that was the only revenue Island Records got from me the consumer on that piece of “product”, think of how much that would have generated from me in the past TWENTY years. It’s astonishing. Also think about all those times I played these songs, it was a one way street between me and the music. With the advent of music in the clouds, you the artist will be able to communicate to me EVERYTIME I touch your music and it will be welcomed to the consumer. I bet in the past 10 years I’ve been to U2.com, five times? Yet I am a huge fan and would probably love to know new and exciting things going on with them, it just doesn’t occur to me anymore. When you take this mentality of bringing the artist to the people instead of the people to the artist, HUGE things are going to happen. Embrace this, it’s going to happen and it’s exciting as hell!!
- There are several amazing companies out there that are already positioning themselves for this rising tide of music everywhere and the ability to pull it down to earth, share it, buy tickets to the show tomorrow night across the street, and get sweet merchandise you’ll want to wear to work the next day to show your pride and fashion sense. Shazam - www.shazam.com, Blip.fm - www.blip.fm, Grooveshark - www.grooveshark.com, Tunipop, www.tunipop.com, MusicHype, www.musichype.com, Ticketfly, www.ticketfly.com, Mobbase, www.mobbase.com, and Mobile Roadie, www.mobileroadie.com, 8Tracks - www.8tracks.com
- The power of word of mouth and sharing is human. If you think of all the TV shows, movies, music, books, food, clothes, trips, etc, by in large it was because a friend recommended it. Music, like no other medium, is all about word of mouth and sharing. We now have the tools to embrace this and build robust businesses to support it, case in point is Blip.fm which I am honored to be involved with. I have been thrilled to see many of my friends use Blip.fm, but one in particular has exemplified my theory for the past two years. www.blip.fm/dj_moishe, this guy has been a music nut is whole life. He doesn’t work in the “biz”, but could walk circles around those that do. He’s passionate about, has great ears, and I look at his page everyday for something new to listen to. Every song he posts is good, to me (which is what matters most) and every song he posts i’ve NEVER heard of in the traditional world. Everyone that uses Blip.fm has a “dj_moishe”, someone that is a trusted source of good music, you know them, and trust they are sharing it because they like it. After many months of nagging and holding back, my wife finally saw the light a few weeks ago, www.blip.fm/tracieking72 - she is using it everyday and getting the biggest self fullfillment out of finding new music and turning people on to new music that she doesn’t even know in Russia - RUSSIA - come on! Tracie, 38 years old, works full-time, has two young children and listens to music like never before. Recently, she asked when 3 artists were coming to town (all three were from DJ_Moishe - and all three would generate $60 from one consumer, all because the music got in her ears and life via technology).
As you can imagine, change is tough and the music business is a lot like our current political environment, very divided. I took a few courses about 6 years ago from the popular Upright Citizens Brigade, here in NYC. UCB is an improv comedy organization that is founded on several strict rules in generating thoughtful and super funny skits and situations. One of the most profound rules is this, “When you’re taught improv, your first lesson is “Yes-And.” So much of life is filled with “but,” “or,” and the flat-out “no.” “Yes” builds scenes. “Yes” builds ideas. The goal is to start thinking, “Yes, I’ll accept your idea without debate.” I have used this in my personal life on many occasions and especially as it relates to helping shape the next phase of Music 3.0, music in the clouds.
—It Happened Today
“It Happened Today”, R.E.M. (Collapse Into Now, 2011)