Music business in flux (still)

When the web touches an industry it disrupts and then absorbs it, to paraphrase Kevin Kelly. One of the first it touched, disrupted and absorbed was the music industry, so it is interesting to return to it from time to time to find out how it has adapted.

A recent In Business podcast did just this.

  • Musicians are diversifying their activities, according to Moby. They need to know how to write, promote, score movies and build live followings to stand the best chance of success.
  • Brighton-and-Buenos Aires act Yossarian say that building an audience is no easier than before, but you can now look to global markets for your audience (and band mates).
  • Billy Bragg talked about how the direct relationship with fans means not relying on the music press as an intermediary, but even when you own the means of production it is still a struggle to make a living.
  • Thom Yorke was cited on his antipathy toward Spotify – painting it as a battle for the future of the music industry, the “last fart of a dying corpse”, I think he said.

All in all, not a lot I hadn’t heard before. But twenty years into the Great Disruption in that industry, the most useful insight for other industries – other than don’t sue your own customers – is that things have not settled down.

There’s optimism that there is a future for the music industry. Well, more that there are futures for the music industry – there is no consensus about what shape it will take. And the waves of disruption, like powerful aftershocks following the main seismic event of the web’s arrival, continue to be felt.

: : Bonus link: There’s more from the podcast in this BBC article