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Survival of great music

Written by Tommi on 26.04.2010 13:37:12

Blog image for entry Survival of great music "Will there be money to be made by making music tomorrow?" seems to be the question everybody would like to see answered.

I think they're asking the wrong question.

Let's make a small checklist of facts:
  • The importance of broadcast media is in a rapid decline. It's increasingly difficult to buy yourself into fame. If you don't get people talking about your music, you're not going to achieve anything.
  • Amateurs have the means to produce music on a zero budget with fully acceptable level of sonic quality and they can afford to give it away for free
  • The global digital community provides an automatic and autonomoys quality monitoring service that the old world of music critics in syndicated publications simply can not match
  • There will always be money for people who are able to move masses

To summarize: you NEED to get people talking. We've already proved with Viola Music Club that two dudes with a bunch of not-too-expensive gear can produce a constant stream of ok quality music for free so it's only a matter of time when the amount of high quality 0 euro music fills the world. I guess it actually has already, we just haven't noticed it yet.

Out of that enormous mass a tiny fraction of a fraction will be so exceptional that they'll get people talking.

The time of being able to make it by making good music is over. It's over for great music as well. Only the exceptional will be able to survive. The rest of us will have to keep making music as a hobby, hoping that one day we too can be exceptional.


When I say exceptional, I'm not referring to subjective quality of music. Let's face it, there's almost 7 billion different tastes in music in the world. By exceptional I mean music that makes an individual willing to evangelize an artist. Music that spreads like wildfire. Whether it's a gimmick-y "right place at the right time" hit or an amazingly striking piece of music, it evokes the need to tell people about it.

Music that just makes for an enjoyable listening experience will not be enough as the methods of making meaningful revenue from small scale excitement are about to be extinct.

The real question is: once you're making music that's exceptional enough to get masses talking about you, how do you monetize the movement?
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Comments (4) 1/4

27.04.2010 09:27:25 Arttu Tolonen wrote : "music, not music industry"

One should always remember that "music" and "music industry" are too separate entities... One has been with us for about 80,000 years or so, acted as force on our very nature and generator of vital social cohesion. The other was devised by a bunch of shysters and the Mob less than a hundred years ago.

One will survive. Music never needed business, per se.

27.04.2010 11:12:30 Tommi wrote

I wouldn't go that far. I'd say there's a place in the world for music business. I do obviously agree that music and music business are two pretty separate entities, but it would be pretty blind to ignore all the positive impacts that "the biz" has had on music. Without all the shysters a lot of musicians wouldn't have been able to concentrate on what they do. Some people just aren't capable of handling their own business and need people like managers, labels, booking agents and other organized non-musicians around musicians.

28.04.2010 10:38:36 Triani wrote : ""music, not music industry""

As someone who played in a band that gave away an album on the internet 4 years ago, i just have to say that giving away music weather an Mp3 or a whole album is so passe, it's just another cog in the marketing of a band or band brand. What's interesting about the Viola mp3's for me is actually what the band have come up with musically. I don't care if it spreads awareness or whatever.
I also think that it may be the case in Finland that the printed music media has no real influence on an artists breaking or whatever but in the UK & USA and in most parts of central Europe good coverage in printed media still sells a band and creates awareness.
Exceptional music is not enough, there is plenty that goes without any recognition. Music that is not exceptional has been selling millions for many years. The music industry will adapt and survive, weather it's in a form that any artists want to be part remains to be seen. It could just become nostalgia for the masses. And there is no accounting for taste.

28.04.2010 17:44:19 Arttu Tolonen wrote : "Yes, of course..."

...one must appreciate the music industry and it's not really ever going to go away, now that it's here. Probably. Music industry is not ontologically b0rked. Only its current, scarcity-based business model that thrives on barriers is FUBARed.

I guess I try to differentiate between music and the industry as often as possible, as far as discourse goes, because I am exposed to too many passive-aggressive, martyred press releases by ÄKT. Their self-serving doom-mongering makes me read everything in this field with a bit of jaundiced eye, methinks.
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