With the same topics and debates being reiterated across various sites about the state of the music industry; where does one go for the latest thought provoking and progressive discussions? With an impressive track record and portfolio, The Music Void (TMV), a “leading source for music business information”, is standing up and answering the call.


TMV launched in 2007 at a time when the music industry was experiencing a major paradigm shift. During that time music became mobile with the release of the iPhone, personalized radio sites such as Last.fm and Pandora began to emerge, and major artists like MadonnaRadiohead, and NIN, dropped their record labels to connect directly with their fans. While the corporate elite were scrambling around trying to figure out what was happening, TMV was analyzing the field and building a foundation on informing their audience about the latest trends, new business models, and strategies that would revitalize a dying industry.


Fast forward a couple of years and TMV has been consistent in their push to “address the need for greater analysis within the blogosphere”. They have built a team and network of well-informed, experienced, and innovative leaders who speak on various topics spanning from new business strategies, online marketing, and the emerging mobile market. As for their network, TMV offers services and stages events for those seeking to expand their presence, knowledge, and career in the music business.


Their network includes:
Music Void Consultancy (MVC) is a digital marketing service that will “drive and convert awareness into revenue.”Outside of social media, blog management, and building web presence, MVC pushes ahead of most PR firms by targeting key areas such mobile management, establishing and recruiting E-teams, and exploiting digital content across various digital platforms.


Music Void Events (MVE) are engaging and intense “labs” that give applicant companies and projects the opportunity to receive insight from keynote speakers, mentoring from leading minds in the digital space, and a chance to present and share their innovative ideas. In partnership with X|Media|Lab, the “internationally acclaimed digital media think-tank and creative workshop, MVE is planning to stage a number of “Sounds Digital” events in 2010; with their first being in London in April.

Music Void Management (MVM) provides services to aspiring producers and artists who want to expand their awareness and excel in the music business. The services they offer range from marketing, label relations, recording and publishing, through to licensing records.


In such a short period of time, TMV has soared above and beyond what they set out to do. Being more than an outlet for information, they have rose to the heights of offering services and staging events that will definitely keep the music industry well-informed and ahead of the curve. If you’re looking for thought provoking information, a solution and action oriented marketing team, management, or an event to challenge your ideas, The Music Void will surprisingly (pun intended) bridge the gap and ensure you drive a project forward to success.


If you want to learn more about The Music Void, click here.
If you want to contact The Music Void concerning services, advertisement, or partnership, click here
 
 
With the record industry in a state of emergency, music artists and record execs alike are scrambling around trying to find solutions to an ever changing market. The infrastructure that the industry has known and loved for over half a century is falling down. As they would tell you, thanks to us, the music fan, we’re the primary, in not the only, cause to this mayhem that we’re witnessing today. Due to file sharing, we are the criminals who are sharing files over P2P networks. We are the criminals who want to stream music for free on sites such as Last.fm, imeem, and Pandora. We are the criminals who are responsible for artists not receiving royalty checks because we’re spinning their songs on our podcast without licensing. Is it really our faults? Or are organizations such as the RIAA and record execs looking for someone to blame in a changing economy? Are they afraid to admit that their time has come to change? Are they trying to hold onto a cash cow that has raped music artists and fans for decades?

In 2002, Felix Oberholzer-Gee , an associate professor at Harvard Business School and Koleman Strumpf , an associate professor at University of North Carolina, released a report detailing the affects of file sharing. The data that they collected over a 17 week period concluded that file sharing actually boosted CD sales.

In 2008, after Last.fm was acquired by CBS, this allowed Last.fm to gain access to over a million tracks from the four major record labels. Two months after the acquisition, Last.fm reported that Amazon.com, one of its affiliates, showed a 119% increase in digital sales. Again, we prove that allowing music fans to stream music prompts them to buy music.

With proof that new concepts such as file sharing and music streaming causing an increase in buying habits, the record industry continued to push forward with trying to control the market. They shut down file sharing sites such as Napster andOink. They began filing lawsuits against piraters. And their latest act that has succeeded in France is the “3 Strikes Plan”, in which ISPs (Internet Service Providers) are now policing the internet, shutting your service off for up to a year if you’re caught downloading illegal files.

Just when you thought the RIAA and the Pro Music movement have slowed their approach to attacking the new reality, we see videos like the one below:
I stumbled upon this video online the other day and the response from the viewers was as expected. The RIAA and SIAA (Software & Information Industry Association Anti-Piracy), the ones responsible for this video, have gone too far with trying to convey their message. After watching the video, my only question for the anti-piracy campaigners were; do you really think that this video will grab the attention of so called criminals or piraters? As I stated earlier, I think that the industry has a lot to learn when it comes to change.
 
 
I recently gave a lecture about the future of music, which was aimed at providing concepts, information and resources to music fansartists and labels to apply and establish a stronger foundation and position themselves to endure the infinite possibilities and opportunities awaiting them. I feel that it’s very important to understand and embrace the essence of change because this is the perfect opportunity for you to seize the moment. Everything is going through transition right now, from our economy to the music industry to our way of life.

As a music futurist I incorporate 
integral philosophy as the framework for my research, which in turn produces sound solutions and thought provoking predictions. In my lecture, I laid out a road map that could hopefully shape the music industry of tomorrow. Below is an outline to road map I’ve constructed:

Music Fan
.Discovering new music
.Creating conversation and communities around the music
.Future Outlook
     .Future magazines publishers
     .Future radio stations
     .Future music video channels

Music Artist
.Adding value to your music
.Building web presence and relationships w/ your fans.
.Future Outlook
     .Music subscriptions
     .House and/or Community concerts 
     .Virtual Reality

Music Label
.The 3 E's (Embrace/Engage/Empower)
.Establishing a market for the community
.Future Outlook
     .Open Access Platforms
     .All Digital Music Conglomerate

With the music fan, assisting them with discovering new music, which will in turn help them to redefine their musical taste, will cause them to create conversation (word of mouth) and social communities around the music they love. We’re seeing this take shape now as social media has allowed people to do so. I conclude as more people are introduced to sites such as 
Last.fmimeem,IssuuPodomatic, and Muzu TV, they will be the ones to create in demand online music magazines, radio shows and music video channels.

With music artists, I will share with them new concepts and models to add more value to their music, thus creating a musical experience. This in turn will help them to build web presence and deeper relationships with their fans. With new concepts, models, outlets and platforms that will add quality and attract a wider audience for the artist, I feel this would open the door for 
music subscriptionsinstead of depending solely on album sales, touring opportunities at house and/or community concerts, and virtual reality experiences on sites such Second Life and/or Machinima.

With music labels, I will stress the importance of embracing change, engaging with your community, and empowering the world. I feel that this would set the stage for establishing a deeply rooted and sound market, which would involve the acceptance of sharing music, 360 degree deals that are fair and ethical, and establishing relationships with online personnel (bloggers, podcasters, vodcasters, cyber pr firms, etc.). I conclude that this would pave the way for open access platforms where music fans, artists, and labels work together and share in the wealth, and create all digital music conglomerates that will operate solely online.

As I become more involved in the industry, delve deeper into my research, and continue to pay close attention to the emerging trends and advancing technologies, the road map that I’ve laid out for you today will become more precise and valuable over time. I am currently working on an eBook which would expand on the outline above in more detail. If you’re a music fan, artist, or label who wants to understand the essence of change, wants to know what the future has in store for the music industry, and position yourself for success, I suggest that you subscribe to my channels below.

 
 

Music Labels
Unconsultancy

Unconsultancy? The prefix “un” means that something is “not” or the “opposite of”. So unconsultancy means it’s “not” or the “opposite of” consultancy. However, exploring new practices that are gaining popularity such as unconferences and unconventions, the prefix “un” is used in a different sense. With unconferences, unconventions and unconsultancy they still follow the traditional sense of being what they are, however, the way these new practices are being held is what makes them uncommon. The usual way these practices would be held would be a person or persons would attend a meeting or an event to hear a lecturer or a professional speak to them about a given topic. This would be called a monologue. With the “un” crowd, the meeting or event would be more of a dialogue where everyone would engage in conversation. The person who created the concept and coined the term “unconsultancy” is Andrew Dubber, an online music consultant, co-author of the blog Music Think Tank and author of the blog New Music Strategies.  He took the “un” idea along with the couch surfing concept and created the niche. How does this work? Well, you, the musician, would call Andrew to setup an engagement in your town. Instead of booking a hotel for Andrew or Andrew booking a hotel for himself, you would provide the room and board at your place of residence. There, he would provide his services to you personally or to a group of people that you invited. This idea makes for a better turnout because Andrew can give you more sound advice because he gets a chance to know you personally in person. This idea also cuts down on the expenses involved if things were setup the old fashion way. Taking it a step further, this would be a great idea for music labels – people providing a service to the music community, to explore the world at a cheaper rate and give musicians their services. In return, musicians would get more value and sessions tailored specifically for you and your crowd. During “The Great Recession”, saving money by working together and embracing the barter system will help us to explore new possibilities and evolve.

 
 

Music Artists
House Concerts

In the article, Jazzlanta: The Future of Atlanta Jazz, I briefly spoke about house concerts being the new phenomena around the country. With the lack of live performances at restaurants and clubs on a local scale, it’s becoming more of a challenge for artists who depend on shows to gain exposure, build an intimate relationship with fans and sell merchandise. With the record industry transitioning into the Digital Age and record sales declining, touring and performing live is the last outlet an artists has in sustaining a decent standard of living. If this outlet collapses, what is left for an artist to capitalize, especially in this economic recession? House concerts are proving to be an alternative for artists to regain exposure, build a loyal following, sell their CD and merchandise, as well as receive a percentage of ticket sales. At a restaurant or club, artists are usually tuned out by side talk amongst the audience and distractions at the bar, which in turn lessens the possibility of an artist connecting with their fans. When the show is over and its time to sell merchandise; who really paid attention and listened to the point where they will happily purchase anything the artist has to offer? With that being said, even if the opportunity to perform at local restaurants and clubs were to thrive and the opportunity, look at the atmosphere and experience that it produces. With home concerts, a resident would provide a space for family, friends and neighbors to enjoy an evening of music. The benefits of that would be a trusted and welcoming environment. You can exclude the distractions that you would endure at a restaurant or club because the people came to see you, so you have their attention. With that environment and the center of attention being solely on you, this increases the chances of you selling more CDs and merchandise because you can connect with the audience on an intimate level. At the end of the day, you walk away with new fans, money from selling your CD and merchandise, money from ticket sales at the door and last, but not least, you can save on hotel costs because the host will probably let you stay overnight in their guest room. As house concerts become more widespread, this could definitely redefine the live performance and how an artist can connect with their fans. Below is a video from Concerts In Your Home, giving you insight about the new phenomena.

 
 

Music Fans
Invest in Songvest

As a follow up to the article I posted, “Letter from the Examiner”, I wanted to keep the momentum going with how we, as a music community, can become more effective in the music industry and capitalize during this economic crisis. The role of the music fan has evolved as we journey further into the information age. No longer are music fans considered consumers. They play an integral role in the decision making process in an artist’s career or with the development of a brand. With this new trend becoming more and more relevant, music fans are now given the opportunity to share in the wealth. However, the wealth is usually distributed in the form of store credit, prizes or recognition. Where’s the money? If the music fans are taking the time to help spread the word about your art or your brand; why not give them a chance to share in the financial wealth? What if there was a platform that would allow you to share in the financial wealth as well as have partial or full ownership of a product? This idea sounds like owning stocks and bonds on Wall Street, correct? Well, take that concept and apply it to music. The result is Songvest – a musical brokerage firm based in Raleigh, North Carolina, that gives music fans the opportunity to own the rights to a portion of a song’s revenue stream. Artist who have recorded the songs offered include Aerosmith, Ringo Starr, Cher, Ozzy Osbourne and The Monkees. Given the state of the music industry with declining record sales, you’re probably wondering about the amount of income you would be receiving from this revenue stream. This is not a get rich quick solution; however, it is a way to generate some income in the mean time. Aside from the royalties generated, you will receive music memorabilia such as actual Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) certified gold and platinum albums and the songs handwritten and signed lyrics. During “The Great Recession”, let’s begin making decision that will generate long term effects. If you own shares in the stock market, who’s to say that those shares will have no value in the future? If you own real estate, who’s to say that the housing market will be worthless in the future? The same rules apply to music. A small investment now may be worth a fortune in the future. If you have a favorite song, why not own a share of the publishing. Invest in Songvest.


 
 

The Music Label
The Challenge
The Downsides of Streaming Services
 
“The bottom line is labels need more revenue than less, and pushing consumers toward lower-revenue models may harm the record industry's chances for a soft landing.” - Glen

In part two of this essay, I mentioned Amazon.com reporting a 119% increase in CD and digital sales due to streaming services such as Last.fm. Once again, anti-piracy combatants are placing blame on music fans for the decline of record sales. Looking past Felix Oberholzer-Gee’s and Koleman Strumpf’s research on how illegal downloading don’t affect CD sales, let us analyze the film and gaming industry. There’s no discriminating when it comes to illegal downloading and file sharing. Anything from ebooks, audio books, movies, games and computer applications can be downloaded and shared on the internet. With the film and gaming industry, even though they are heavily affected by file sharing their profits are still soaring. Why? First and foremost, they allow the consumers to preview before they purchase. Can you rent music at Blockbuster or Netflix? Secondly, they continue to add value to the experience they are providing. If the film industry followed the same route as the record industry, we would still purchase movies on VHS. If the gaming industry followed the same route as the record industry, we would still purchase Nintendo cartridges. My question to the record industry; what is wrong with allowing the fans to listen before they purchase? Are you afraid that they will realize that the quality of music has declined significantly as you claim sales have? I think they’ve already come to that realization. And I can attest to that as a die hard music fan.


The Opportunity
Why the Labels Love Play Anywhere

“The new service puts personal music and video collections onto the “cloud” and enables subscribers access and play across multiple devices including mobile, PC and in-car regardless of DRM and formats.” – Hypbot Site

As Gerd Leonhard, author and media futurist, would say, “Music Like Water is the new ecosystem”.  Water flows freely any and everywhere. You can turn on your faucet and receive water or you can purchase water from the store. Will music ever be as free as water, with the option of purchasing sound in a concealed package? Well, the question holds true because illegal downloads would be considered free music and sound in a concealed package would be considered a music CD. Gerd has been talking about a subscription based model for music since 2004, where ISP’s (Internet Service Providers) would add a small fee to your internet bill for unlimited access to music. Although this may take some time to bring into fruition, we’re beginning to see the beginning stages of this music utopia. Play Anywhere is a subscription based service, who supply their service to device manufacturers, telecoms companies and ISPs who can then offer it to their user base either as part of their package or as an extra. Their system is setup to where any song you listen to, whether purchased from iTunes, ripped from a CD, or downloaded from an illegal BitTorent site, will be tracked – even if you’re offline. This information will be tracked by their system to determine how much money would be distributed to the right’s holders. The only concern that music fans may have with this model is their privacy. 



 
 

The Music Artist
The Challenge
Illegal Downloading: An Artist’s Perspective

“Will you let me and my bands come live in your house and feed us meals for free when we can no longer survive because our product no longer has any value?” – Randy Nichols

As we transition into the digital age, the growing pains become more unbearable to some. Illegal downloading has been at the forefront of many debates as the main reason the music industry is in shambles. Even through reports by many researchers such as Felix Oberholzer-Gee and Koleman Strumpf have proven that illegal downloading doesn’t affect CD sales as the music industry claims, many still carry the notion that it does. Is this an excuse being used by many in the industry who cannot accept change and will do anything in their power to prevent it? Organizations such as the RIAA and record execs are quick to put artists at the forefront of the debate, speaking of their misfortunes and gaining much sympathy from the public. I reported at the beginning of 2008, that Amazon.com reported a 119% increase in CD and digital sales due to the acquisition of Last.fm by CBS. This is further proof that the record industry should explore and embrace the digital age instead of complaining solely about how the shift is effecting them.


The Opportunity
Topspin Upgrades Direct to Fan Platform

“Topspin is a media technology company dedicated to developing leading-edge marketing software and services that help artists and their partners build businesses and brands. We help artists manage their catalogs, connect with fans, and generate demand for music.” – Topspin Site

One of my expectations for music artist is to build stronger relationships with their fans. There are several platforms that allow you to connect with fans providing tools such as widgets, newsletters and analytics to track your buzz across the web. One such platform is Topspin. There mission is to provide artists the tools they need to build successful businesses.  Mastering the art of online marketing can be a dreadful task. Having the necessary resources and tools to target your niche market and remain connected to them at all times would be a life saver. Topspin provides three channels for marketing: viral, target and direct. Included in the package are customizable widgets that give the artists the ability to publish, update and sell content across the net. If that wasn’t enough, Topspin also provides services that allow artists to bundle content such as pictures, videos, etc, merchandise and has a feature that will allow the artist to pay their fans for marketing. Where do you sign up? Well, Topspin has finally made the transition from beta stage; however, their staff is selective about the artists they work with. If you are one of the lucky artist or manager who is accepted, Topspin has partnered with Berklee, the online continuing education division of Berklee College of Music, to offer online music courses to teach the effective use of the Topspin platform. Enrollment for the course will open in July 2009 and classes will begin in September. 

 
 

The Music Fan
The Challenge
Requiem For a Record Store

"As the viability of record stores have dwindled over the years, I can’t help but feel that our importance to the community has dwindled also. We’ve received an enormous amount of love from people since we announced the closing but it’s been often accompanied by a hushed confession that music just doesn’t play as big of a role in their lives anymore. They don’t have the time for it. It’s sad, really." – Rich Menning

With the decline of record sales, the music industry is in dismay. Digital downloads are the preference for today’s generation. Whether legal or illegal, the ease of accessing a ubiquitous stream of music is only a mouse click away. How does this affect music industry? Ask the record labels who scramble to repair the demolished infrastructure that once housed their framework for success. Ask the starving artists who depend heavily on touring and merchandise to make a living. And last, but not least, ask the record stores who are liquidating their inventory and closing their doors. Out of the three sectors, the record stores are affected the most by the paradigm shift in the music industry from analog to digital. From major retail stores such as Virgin Megastores and Tower Records to independent stores, owners aren’t able to compete with the iGeneration’s iTunes, imeem or iLike. As technology advances and consumers demands become more and more self-centered, experiences in the physical world become more and more obsolete. I was speaking with a friend a month ago about this scenario, and I came to the conclusion that any business selling products or providing a service offline need to create an experience for the consumer and engage them to compete with companies online. However, as I mentioned in my post, The Future of the Atlanta Music Industry, music fans are the support factors. Regardless of the deeply rooted narcissism that plagues us digital natives, we should still engage in offline activities. The record store, whether major or independent, should still play an integral part of our lives in how we explore, discover and purchase new music.  


The Opportunity
SlicethePie: Unleash Your Inner Major Label Executive

"Music Fans take on the A&R role, earning money reviewing tracks, spotting new talent and ensuring the best Artists get put forward for financing." - SlicethePie Site

Most services or apps related to music are usually geared towards expanding the platform of the artist or label. What about the music fan? Yes, we have sites such as Last.fm and imeem, but what about the fans who really want to engage and be a part of the creative process? Introducing, SlicethePie - a financing platform for the music industry that enables new and established artists to raise money directly from music fans and investors. This idea covers all spectrums of the music industry from music fans, artists and investors (labels). However, focusing on the music fans, this platform allows them to directly invest in the Artists in return for exclusive Artist access, a copy of the completed album, their name on the album sleeve and a decent share in the financial returns from album and single sales.  The future seems promising for music fans who want to contribute more than just being considered a consumer who purchases an album. If you want to give your two cents about an artist and their career and earn digital pennies in the process, SlicethePie is a start. Support the music!

 
 

The Music Label
The Challenge
Universal and Sony Reject Virgin Media’s Plan for Legal P2P

“The concerns of record labels, publishers and licensing societies, as well as, a myriad of contractual and legal obligations deeply entrenched in the industry will all have to shift dramatically before ISP licensed P2P becomes a reality.” - Hypebot

The monetization and control of music seems to be the only thing on the minds of record labels, publishers and licensing societies. It’s been well over a decade since Napster first appeared on the scene and caused an uproar in the music industry due to the new approach of owning music without paying. Anti-piracy campaigns, lawsuits and shakedowns have ensued with the record labels still scratching their head as to why their strategies aren’t working to end P2P file sharing. Virgin Media’s plan, similar to Nokia’s “Comes With Music” plan, was rejected by two majors, Sony and Universal because they feel would be loosing control if music uploads and downloads are unprovisioned.

The Opportunity
DRM-Free Music Sneaks onto iTunes from Major Labels

“It'd be nice if labels would stop trying to use DRM as a bargaining chip to try to force Steve Jobs budge on song pricing, album bundling and other issues; that way, all of the music in the iTunes store would be available in the unprotected AAC format, causing fewer consumer headaches and widening the hardware compatibility of iTunes-purchased music.” – Eliot Van Buskirk

What is DRM? Digital Rights Management. It is a range of access control technologies used by publishers, copyright holders, and hardware manufacturers to limit or restrict usage of digital media or devices. In my lifetime, I’ve downloaded only one song from iTunes. I paid the 0.99 for the purchase. However, when I tried to put the song, “Sean” by Aya, onto my MP3 player, Rhapsody didn’t recognize the file to add to my library. This scenario is all to familiar to the music fans who’ve ever downloaded songs from iTunes. However, with the ever increasing pressure on the record labels to allow music fans to stream music freely without restrictions seems to be coming to be coming to an end. The four major labels, EMI, Sony/BMG, UMG & WMG are finally beginning to release DRM-free music to the iTunes store.

 

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