The Music Album Re-emerges...
Of all the industries that are being turned upside down by the Internet revolution (heads up on cell phones), none is more fascinating to me than music.
Read another good article today about the changes it is facing and then called an old friend, Andy Bonime, who is in the movie/music industry out in Southern California.
What he described is going on in his world as a music producer is precisely what Chris Anderson describes in The Long Tail...to a "T"
So, what is it?
Well, there are a growing number of artists who are not mega-stars, but who are making a decent living ($100k-$150k per year), making their own music, selling downloads via MySpace, pressing their own CD's, and performing in live venues. You don't need the major labels anymore...the micro-markets are facilitated by a huge group of people in a niche (and looking to fill that niche.) All of this is enabled by technology.
Now, I'm not a huge music person...at all, but a few years ago, I was riding in a car with Rob Hirschmann (who is) and he talked about the "Art of the Album."
I don't remember where, but a few weeks ago, I read about how the Beatles were the last great Album Artists, in that they deliberately laid out the songs in an Album to create a type of Musical Mosaic that had meaning from start to finish.
Then, the labels took over, created a few mega-hits and would just throw fluff songs on record/tape/CD and sell it as an "Album."
So, Andy's new project is part-music, part-Art. His site isn't up yet (too bad), but his working concept is a compilation of specific artists with specific songs/tunes in the Album as art form.
What does it all mean?
It means that in times of disruptive technological change, the value doesn't evaporate, it moves...and you have to find it.
The value in music isn't in finding the talent, marketing it through mass distribution channels, or in creating the media (CD, tape, etc.), it's in the experience (album or concert).
There are those who say that the music will be free and that concerts, etc. is how you will make the money in music.
Interestingly enough, I was thinking about this as my kids and I watched Sesame Street this AM. Here's core content being given away...for free...and how do they make money? Not off commercials...off the licensing of products (see my kids' diapers!) and sales of DVD's, etc.
If you want some more deep thoughts on music/technology, you should read Fred Wilson.