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 reported a 119% increase in CD and digital sales due to the acquisition of 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. 



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