Opinion and analysis of the day's music business news.
-- A summary of New Orleans' music scene five years after Hurricane Katrina: 20% fewer musicians, 50% fewer gigs, 43% lower earnings, and a higher cost of living. The third annual study from Sweet Home New Orleans explains that tourism is down from 2004, the new of conventions hosted by the city were about half of pre-Katrina levels and convention budgets - which directly affect musicians' income - are lower as well. Younger musicians are impacted as well. Reduced opportunities at home are cited as a reason such artists as Trombone Shorty and Theresa Andersson have developed their touring careers. In short, according to the survey, New Orleans' post-Katrina economy cannot provide for the amount of musicians who live in the city. (Los Angeles Times)
-- Marketing guru Seth Godin, author of "Permission Marketing" and other popular business books, says he will no longer release books the traditional way. "I like the people, but I can't abide the long wait, the filters, the big push at launch, the nudging to get people to go to a store they don't usually visit to buy something they don't usually buy, to get them to pay for an idea in a form that's hard to spread... I really don't think the process is worth the effort that it now takes to make it work. I can reach 10 or 50 times as many people electronically. No, it's not 'better,' but it's different. So, while I'm not sure what format my writing will take, I'm not planning on it being the 1907 version of hardcover publishing any longer."
Godin's comments weren't to be advice, but many artists and record labels might as well take them as such. But not all artists could follow his lead. Godin is the marketing world's equivalent to Radiohead. He already has a huge following. He can ditch a popular format without risking his career. And because his specialty relates to technology, his fan base is most likely skewed toward iPad and ebook reader owners. (Media Bistro)
-- A word of warning as the age of cloud-based music services begins: Hackers say they are targeted cloud computing, according to a survey of 100 attendees of this week's DEF CON conference. IT security company Fortify found that 89% of those surveyed believe cloud vendors are not doing enough for security and about half had already tried to find weaknesses in cloud computing security. Says Fortify's Marmak Meftah: "More than anything, this research confirms our ongoing observations that cloud vendors - as well as the IT software industry as a whole - need to redouble their governance and security assurance strategies when developing solutions, whether cloud-based or not, as all IT systems will eventually have to support a cloud resource." (Out-Law blog)
-- Musopen, a charity that operates an online library of copyright-free music, has launched a campaign on Kickstarter to fund the recording of some seminal classical symphonies (the Beethoven, Brahms, Sibelius, and Tchaikovsky) and release them into the public domain. While these symphonies' compositions expired long ago, modern sound recordings of the compositions are still under copyright. So, Musopen has a logical workaround to get these symphonies into the public domain where they can be freely downloaded, traded, mixed and mashed. Musopen says it plans to make the recordings available on its web site, put them on Wikipedia pages and integrate them with the One Laptop Per Child campaign. The campaign has 19 days and about $8,400 to go (out of a goal of $11,000).
The fan-funded route could actually provide a sensible way to give people free music that can be freely traded, included in mixes and mashed with other songs. In effect, the public could be given copyright-free recorded music on a case-by-case basis (for private rather than commercial use). The artist would set the fundraising goal at an amount that would (a) cover the recording costs, (b) cover future operational costs and (c) return an amount equal to the present value of future revenues forgone. In other words, if current funding exceeds the opportunity costs of giving away the music, the idea makes economic sense. (It might be best to first give away the music to funders and then make it freely available to the public, otherwise freeloading could be a problem.) An additional consideration could be the goodwill created by such a project - that would count as a benefit to be counted against opportunity costs. It would certainly make for an interesting way to create and distribute music. (Kickstarter)
-- The Village Voice on how Slate's non-exclusive article on Kanye West, which used the many quotes West has left around the Internet in spite of his lack of interviews, may spell an end to some music magazines: "The fact is, artists can reach their public now more directly than ever before, and they neither need nor want anyone else's help in doing so. Slate may have intended to write an entirely new kind of profile. But what it looks like from here is a eulogy." (Village Voice)
-- In case you missed Billboard.biz's report on Wednesday evening, the 9:30 Club is launching a record called 9:30 Records. Nashville's Thirty Tigers (distributed by RED) will handle sales and distribution. The promoter-as-record label model has long been expected by both industry insiders and onlookers. It's seen as a natural extension of the promoters' enviable position in the food chain, which is to say it's closer to the live music consumer than the typical record label. That proximity to the live event carries some advantages. It provides opportunities to bundle music and concert tickets without the typical rights issues. There will be point-of-purchase sales and marketing opportunities. And some promoters already have the ability to work in sponsorships. (Billboard.biz)
-- MySpace updated its template for user profiles yesterday. The updates allow artists to stream 25 songs from their profile page, choose from several dozen themes, create customized headers, and ensure their template’s look-and-feel is replicated across MySpace’s other pages like photo, video and so on. Artists already using the new templates include Lady Antebellum, Outkast, The Decemberists, Silversun Pickups, and Imogen Heap.
-- In case you missed it last month, news is breaking now that Joel Tenenbaum's legal team has filed a notice to appeal the $6,750 penalty in a file-sharing case. (Boston.com)
-- A good article on how piracy is affecting the gaming industry. (GamePro)
Opinion and analysis of the day's music business news.