[linux-elitists] Writing for the Web

Ben Woodard ben@valinux.com
Wed Nov 1 00:10:10 PST 2000

> On a completely other subject, The Coalition for the Future
> of Music has invited me to help determine the future
> of music. I'm not on their panelist list yet, though:
> http://www.futureofmusic.org/events/summit0101/panelists.html

We had a pretty interesting flame war on the PS list regarding music.
I've come to believe that the key to being a profitable musician is
going to be not that they have created something but that they can
continue to create something. In other words the thing that they
market is their ability to create. The most common form of this is
performing their music live. However, that is not the only thing that
they can do. If they have a good song, they can keep changing the
lyrics, arrangments and tweaking with the actual music so that it
stays fresh. Here is an excerpt from one of my posts:

Musicians can use copyright to protect their works if they wish but I
am suggesting that there are alternative business models which could
potentially make money. However most of these are not being
explored. Just like open source software is a challenging business
model to accept on face value, it seems to me that people are afraid to
try new things because they are afraid that they won't work.

However, I think it can be very easily shown that there are
alternative business models that can provide a sufficient revenue
stream to stay solvent while persuing their artform.

I think that the key to finding these business models is to look at
the creative aspects of the art form that pirates cannot possibly
steal and build your business around them rather than building your
business around something that can be copied. 

A pirate can easily copy a recording but there is no way to copy the
experience of a live concert. A pirate may be able to copy your
recordings but if every performance is different then they cannot
capture the creative element that you infuse into it. 

My friend has vast numbers of crateful dead recordings. He and his
friends are in some ways critics. Their are certain performances of
certain songs at certain concerts which stand above and beyond
others. The GD were "on" that night. The had something special about
it. There might be 5 or 6 outstanding versions of a song each with
something a bit different. 

I truly believe that the in the long run it will become self evident
that trying to stop copying is futile and more creative business
models will need to be invented.

Here are some that I would like to see:

1) Live radio/TV - Have a performer put live concerts on the radio or
TV. The radio or TV station pays a fee to the performer to broadcast
the concert in their coverage area.

2) Internet broadcast - Same as above but through the internet.

3) Much broader live recording - deadheads sometimes used to plug into
the mixing boards. Imagine you could plug into the mixing board for a
price. Have multiple tears. For one price you get to plug into the
mixing board after the sound has been mixed. For another price you get
to record all the mike inputs and mix it yourself. A whole sub artform
could develop where people mix concerts differntly for different
effects and publish the recordings. 

4) Master recording creation - The artist makes all the master
recordings available and allows people to download them for a fee
(just to cover the cost of the internet connection and make a small
profit but allows them to be freely copied). Then fans can mix the
music anyway they would like. A whole sub artform of music mixing
could evolve. If groups of fans or a broadcaster of some kind would
like some variations on some track then they pool their money and let
pay the artist to record it. "I want a spanish version of XXX to play
in this market."

5) Pay to create - (Similar to the above) Artist does a rough
recording of a new song. Fans they chip in money to get the performer
to record it. Or they might pay a good mixer to get the right tracks
recorded and mix them.

6) Custom CD's or music by the track - Right now recording artist
record little blurbs for the radio as part of their promotion for a
record. What if you could buy a CD with certain songs that were
special to you and the artist saying little blurbs that you
specifiy. "Hello Nina, this is Jimmy Buffett. Here is a song that
I wrote that makes Ben think of you. Happy Aniversery!"

7) Performances - A group of fans get together and pay for the artist
to come and play for them. A sort of bid for tour stops kind of

I could go on and on. I really think that there is an amazing dearth
of creativity in business model area of the music business.


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