Wired's Epicenter blog has the skinny on why MySpace Music failed to create any big waves when it launched. A lot of mistakes were made, including an unclear Web address and lack of any independent music. But I think it boils down to something fairly simple: the designers of the service were focused on the wrong audience. MySpace envisioned the site as an online showcase for major acts on major labels. The labels, anxious for any help navigating the file-trading era, were excited. But nobody bothered to consider why users visit MySpace, and what they might want from a … Read more
TechCrunch broke the story Tuesday that Seeqpod, a Web search engine for music files, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The company is facing lawsuits from record company Warner and EMI because even though it doesn't post any material itself--it's just a search engine--it makes no effort to filter out copyrighted material.
So far, the site itself still up and running, but my absolute favorite name-it-and-play-it service, Songerize, which uses Seeqpod as its back end, appears to be broken. The labels have been targeting independent developers who use Seeqpod's API, so I wonder if the heat got … Read more
Don't take my word for it that the major labels and the system that propped them up for so many years are dead. John Mellencamp, who sang a string of rock hits back in the 1980s and '90s, thinks the business is dead as well. In an articulate and passionate essay on the Huffington Post, he argues that the long slide started well before the rise of file sharing, back to when the business started relying on SoundScan and Broadcast Data Systems (BDS).
With SoundScan, instead of relying on surveys from record stores, the labels could see exactly how … Read more
Update, 3/24: An SXSW organizer contacted me to let me know that the show included 14 panelists from major labels, as well as 20 panelists from independent labels. The truth remains that I didn't see, hear, or meet any--but of course I couldn't attend every panel. I've corrected the post accordingly.
Almost a year ago, I posted about how two executives from major Web companies had taken new positions related to digital music: Douglas Merrill left Google to become EMI's president of digital operations, and Ian Rogers left Yahoo Music to become the CEO of … Read more
AUSTIN, Texas--I've blogged about Topspin Media in the past--it's the company that handled the staggered direct-to-fan release for the recent David Byrne-Brian Eno album, "Everything That Happens Will Happen Today." At the South by Southwest festival here this week, Topspin announced that it has taken a lot of the lessons it learned from the Byrne-Eno release and applied it to their platform.
Under the Byrne-Eno program, the artists first asked listeners to enter their e-mail address in exchange for a free song download. A few weeks later, they released a streaming version of the entire record, … Read more
AUSTIN, Texas--Thanks to everybody who came out to hear the Artist as Entrepreneur panel on Wednesday at South by Southwest. I had a great time doing it, and I enjoyed my (too short) interactions with the other panelists and with the audience after the show.
We were pressed for time at the end, so I wanted to share some random thoughts and reactions to some questions that I didn't have time to address.
AUSTIN, Texas--At South by Southwest here, I had a short but interesting conversation Wednesday afternoon with Tim Quirk, the vice president of music programming for Rhapsody, wedged in around a set from Jersey punks Titus Andronicus (who had very tight and well-constructed songs with incredible energy and some interesting triple-guitar work, but I don't know if the singer's going to make it another three days).
Quirk, who's been with Rhapsody since before it was acquired by RealNetworks, suggested that streaming music on demand will change the mechanics of the music business because artists (and other stakeholders) won'… Read more
A year and a half after I first blogged about ticket brokers and the free market, the rest of the world is finally catching on to the fact that scalping isn't going away.
A lot has happened in the intervening time--Live Nation emerged as a competitor to Ticketmaster, then agreed to merge with Ticketmaster, and The Wall Street Journal has published a couple of articles exposing the fact that artists and managers often team up with ticket sellers (like Ticketmaster) and brokers (like Ticketmaster subsidiary TicketExchange) to sell their own allotments of tickets for several times their face value. … Read more
What should bands pay for? Can art and marketing coexist? Has the digital world made do-it-yourself recording, marketing, and distribution easier, or do musicians still need the old-fashioned triumvirate of booking agent, record label, and radio airplay to thrive?
If you're interested in such questions, and you're heading to the South by Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas, this year, check out a panel discussion in which I'll be participating called The Artist as Entrepreneur at 1:30 p.m Wednesday. Most of the people on the panel are in the business of helping musicians use the … Read more
Every now and then, the traditional record industry comes up with a win-win for all involved. Take for example today's announcement from Amazon.com of a new service called Back from the Vault, which offers out-of-print albums for sale as CDs or MP3s.
The key to the program is Amazon subsidiary CreateSpace, which manufacturers individual CDs as users demand them--very similar to part of the service Audiolife provides for independent musicians. (CreateSpace also lets musicians self-publish, and provides similar services for books and video.) In this case, more than 20 record labels have contracted with CreateSpace to make more … Read more