The tried and true methods of creating success in the music industry are over and are never coming back. The economics just don’t work for most acts anymore. The greatest risk in the next 5-10 years for music is that no one will want to fund the development and promotion of new musical acts the way the major labels did in the past, until we see a new financial model.
To survive, musicians and their managers need to innovate and break out of the old ways of thinking about the business. The oft quoted conventional wisdom that artists can survive on touring and merchandise income is simply not going to work for most bands. Instead, real blockbuster success in the future belongs to those ready to break the rules and create new engaging musical experiences, and unique products and services that cannot be duplicated.
Music is an inherently social phenomenon and we are already seeing the impact of social media on the way that music is marketed and consumed. We are connecting fans and artists enabling a broad spectrum of musical search (pandora), concert (songkick) and ticketing innovations and direct to fan engagement (topspin and nimbit). But most of what has been developed thus far is in support of the way it used to be, instead of the way it needs to be.
Perhaps the next musical breakthrough will come from some sort of interaction between creators and consumers fueling a unique experience that you just have to be there to enjoy. Nothing to download, just an experience with a limited audience. A creation of value that appeals to the thumb twiddling electronic generation in ways their parents never even dreamed of. A way of engaging with artists that true fans will fight to get access to.
How do we get there? Where is the strategic thinking that will propel the music business forward? I believe innovation will come from outside the mainstream music companies, the way it has over and over again across so many different industries. The automobile did not come from the Horse and Buggy makers and refrigeration did not come from the Ice Kings, so why would the next musical innovation come from Warner or Universal Music, or any other indie label for that matter? Just as theatre evolved into motion pictures, then broadcast television, then video tape and dvds to IMAX 3D emersive experiences, so will music continue it’s transformation, propelled by technology and new nimble entrepreneurs.
Musicians of the future need to face the fact that living a life in music is a privilege that they will have to earn through hard work, preparation, innovation and collaboration. Young artists need to be willing to take risks and push the edges of creative expression by embracing the reality that nothing about music is normal anymore.
The team that may be most compelling for creative artists to form is a strategic business manager, a social marketing manager and a technologist.
We need fresh thinking and risk capital to fund the next wave of musical innovators. The Challenge for the Music Business is to create value in the place of falling revenue and to energize the new generation of music fans to really support music. Do you have what it takes to reinvent the business? What ideas do you have that could light the way into the future?
We will be announcing a competition to award a prize for the best ideas shortly.