The Future of Music

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From Tekserve’s email invite:

Special Event: The Future of Music, A Panel Discussion on Where the Music Industry is Headed

The panel will explore a host of music topics: What have we gained, what have we lost? What are we going to hear in the next ten years? What are we going to feel? How will music be sold? How will it be produced? How will it be performed? Prior to the panel discussion, you will hear from Steve Gordon, author of THE FUTURE OF THE MUSIC BUSINESS: How to Succeed with the New Technologies, A Guide for Artists and Entrepreneurs. In addition, you’ll have the chance to pose your own question to the panelists at the end of the discussion.

Moderator of the Discussion: Harry Allen is a famed hip-hop activist and journalist for Vibe, The Source, The Village Voice, and others. As an expert covering hip-hop culture, Harry has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, on National Public Radio, MTV, VH-1, CNN, the BBC, and other information channels.

Here is a list of our panelists:

Bob Power, Award-winning, multi-platinum record producer, mixer, engineer, musician. Credits Include: A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul, Erykah Badu.

Hank Shocklee, Long Island based hip-hop producer. Credits include: Public Enemy, EPMD, Ice Cube.

Nick Sansano, New York-based engineer/producer. Credits include: Public Enemy, Ice Cube, Galactic, Sonic Youth.

Steve Gordon, New York based entertainment attorney, author and lecturer

Below: Mixer Cake

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My Notes:

Steve Gordon’s Presentation on the Future of the Music Business

  • The traditional music biz is in crisis due to digital downloads, Napster and Kazaa, but there are many new opportunities
  • Gross music recording sales are in decline – peaked at $15 billion in 1999, now down to $10 billion in 2006
  • With modern technology, it is now possible to produce a commercial quality album for less than $10,000 and set up a promotional website for only a few hundred dollars.
  • Case study : Assuming that an artist records an album for $15,000. If she sells only 3000 units online through self-distribution, she can start to turn a profit. At a major label, she would have to sell over $15,000 units just to recoup costs, before starting to receive a paltry %3 on each unit sold.
  • iTunes was a step in the right direction. Great deal for Apple – over 90 million iPods sold, but for record labels, digital sales have not compensated for losses in CD sales.
  • Why DRM? Labels for Apple to use it, but Apple uses DRM too. iTunes purchases only play on your computer or on an iPod.
  • New AAC Format (Apple and EMI partnership). Offers higher quality sound at a greater cost. But once again, it only plays on an iPod.

Panelists’ General Observations

  • There has a transfer of power from labels to independent musicians and producers, but not a transfer of money.
  • The business is in crisis, but MUSIC is still good
  • Consumers have a choice now. Need for new curators, gatekeepers and aggregators of content to help music listeners make more informed choices.
  • Just because we have new digital tools doesn’t mean we should use all of them at once. Talent and acquired skills are still needed. One needs to have a firm grasp of musical history and how to arrange. Good, cheap technology does not necessarily translate directly into a great record. But Rock and Roll was born out of doing things wrong.
  • In the new digital age we are still children. We are now free, but how do we take advantage of our new found freedom? Most people don’t know what is means to be free – so most people go back to the plantation.
  • PROMOTION IS KEY! People need to not only promote their own stuff, but cross promote with other artists and producers as well.
  • Currency is viewership and visibility, NOT SALES! Audio and visual elements are even more interconnected than ever.
  • Big expensive studios may still sound a bit better than a home-studio recording, but it doesn’t sound 1 million dollars better.
  • Labels will stay around in one form or another – just as radio did not replace television. Labels still have means to promote and place an artist. Labels still command trust with distributors and media networks. The oldest form of trust is $. Labels are like banks.
  • There is now a lower ramp of entry into the biz. But artists have an even greater responsibility to create their own buzz now.
  • There will be no more superstar artists – only celebrities and good artists.
  • Profits will be more evenly distributed. More variety in the ecosystem, with everyone getting a fairer piece of the pie.
  • Keys to success – REFINEMENT, SKILLS, and LEARNING.
  • MySpace is great, but don’t forget that face-to-face meetings and networking is still important.

Watch the The Future of Music videos on YouTube.

Published by

leesean

Foossa Facts

  • Our media assassin, Harry Allen, I gotta ask him:
    Yo Harry, you’re a writer, are we “that type?”