Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Gibson's Five Ideas That Will Not Work

Jonah of Gibson's Lifestyle website has five ideas to Save the Music Industry. I for one am entirely unconvinced by them.

  • Fix Ticketmaster — Just what business are we talking about here? Generally, if you're talking the "music business", you're talking about selling music. If you're in the venue business, you're using the alcohol business, using the band to attract an audience. Just like the business of newpapers and magazines isn't the text, but using the text to sell the readers to the advertisers. Just like talking about Shell and BP has little to do with the auto bailout, fixing Ticketmaster, while in general a good idea, will do nothing to fix Warner and Capitol, etc.
    On the other hand, if we're talking about the big rooms, the concert halls and the stadiums with blue mats on the basketball boards, they can only do it if there are big acts to fill them, and you need to have small venues pushing small acts that grow to be big acts, or else the system dies when the last big fish dies.

  • Shift The Focus From CDs To Vinyl — CDs might suck ("They’re easily scratched, ugly and make album artwork so small that it’s difficult to see without a magnifying glass ..."), but consider this. There were singles, individual good songs. The 50s were all about singles. The 60s only started to not be about singles toward the end. It was the 80s when the rock single died, and even then, it kinda didn't. "Smells Like Teen Spirit" was the video, the "single" even when no single was released. Same with "Rockin' in the Free World". We wanted singles, but we couldn't buy singles. Then came MP3s, and iTunes and such. We have singles again. Vinyl sales are constant to DJs and audiophile geeks. CD sales are slipping. With downloads, you have good-enough music quality wherever you want, without having to build a Hi-Fi shrine to music in your living room. That's a dog.

  • Make Better Music — If only it were that easy. On the one hand, you think you're going to make "better" music than the Allmans, the Beatles, Miles Davis, Benny Goodman, Bach? (Depending on what you're going for.) On the other hand, you could make the best music possible and if nobody hears it, it goes nowhere. Radio is dead, and it's dead by self-inflicted wounds. Until you work out how people know about your music, making it "better" is futile.

  • Make the iTunes Store More User-Friendly — Amazon MP3 is plenty user-friendly to me.

  • Look to the Past for Perspective — It just might be that the era of recorded popular music, call it from the Bristol Sessions to Napster, has been what economists would call a bubble, and it's just done burst.


Sammy said...

Yeah, I'll get right on that - finding a vinyl LP player for my car. And CDs suck because they scratch and the alternatives are vinyl LPs? I remember vinyl. Large. Cumbersome. Crackle crackle audio. Skipping. Complete non-portability. There is a reason the cassette quickly annihilated the LP.

The MP3 player may have audio issues, but in my wildest dreams as a teenager, I never would have thought I could carry my ENTIRE MUSIC CATALOG with me anywhere and everywhere.

And if you cannot navigate through the iTunes store, you're a moron. Let's see. Search?

Dave Jacoby said...

I can't use iTunes because every machine I use runs Linux and iTunes needs Windows or Mac. Boo hoo.

My dad used to have a 57 T-Bird with a 45rpm single player in the dash. Well, kinda under. But yeah, that was abandoned because it sucked.

Furtheron said...

Hmm fix Ticketmaster? One of the biggest issues in recent years actually is eBay - suddenly bands saw the demand for live tickets and the prices that could be charged but which they weren't... so ticket prices have risen a lot. But generally venues are better I think - Wembley Arena refurb, O2 etc.

Problem is it's all at the top end by established acts there is little lower down the chain, where is the circuit for new bands to establish themselves on? In the UK the music licensing laws have been a disaster and there is less live music now than ever

Vinyl- sorry!! this is 2009 isn't it? :-)

Make better music... I think people are, but you try to get it heard on radio or wherever... just putting it out for free on myspace when you can't gig will get you nowhere.

Make iTunes better... don't use it, I don't I think it sucks and go elsewhere like you... plus I'm still a CD buyer mostly I have to admit, I like the "getting something in my hand" bit... (Oh that sounded all wrong didn't it :-))

Look to the past? Hmm - no look to the now, given in the future the period from Chuck Berry to now will look infinitely small really there is plenty of great music out there now and in the future just stop trying to label it, mold it and market it.... the best thing to learn from the past was that The Stones were allowed to release Little Red Rooster - the Beatles to make St. Pepper, Fleetwood Mac to go from Elmore James to pretty much prog rock in 2 years... that is the lesson, allow creative people to be creative