Internet Age re-inventing music business: Bandwidth

August 29, 2009 by Glenn Chapman
Customers wireless cafe in Beijing. Music and Internet worlds merged on San Francisco's posh Nob Hill as insiders brainstormed about industry rocking Web 2.0 trends from social networking to smart phones with cameras.

Music and Internet worlds merged on San Francisco's posh Nob Hill as insiders brainstormed about industry rocking Web 2.0 trends from social networking to smart phones with cameras.

Internet technologies will transform a music industry in which recording studio revenues have tumbled along with CD sales, according to those gathered for an elite Bandwidth Conference.

"The technology is really there to empower the consumer and the artist," said Gracenote vice president of product and content management Stephen White.

"It is about creating better experiences around music, and we think the same is true for movies, TV, and other entertainment content."

Gracenote specializes in music recognition technology and is used in Apple's iTunes online shop. Sony bought the California company last year for a reported 260 million dollars.

CarStars unveiled by Gracenote this year lets drivers pick beloved musicians to be "musical guides" that orchestrate playlists based on what they think best fits a moment, whether it be touring a coast or commuting.

"We see in the future a much better experience; holistic offerings," White said.

Fans will be able to interact with artists in more rewarding ways, White predicted.

Creative Allies plans to soon launch a test version of software that lets artists hire fans to create anything from concert posters and t-shirt designs to music videos and biographies, according to the startup.

The amount of money raked in from live concerts has rocketed, triggering an array of commission-based online services for hunting down tickets, according to JamBase chief executive David Rosenheim.

The JamBase mission is to be the ultimate online resource for live music fans.

The availability of recorded music online pressures musicians to deliver live shows that go far beyond playing songs from their CDs.

"Definitely, you have to put on a show," said Diaris Alexander of Youth Movement Records, a group that works to cultivate music business savvy in young members of the Hip Hop generation.

"We look for interactive media...we need a greater experience otherwise why not just listen to their music online?"

Live shows drive sales of recorded music in the Internet Age and provide opportunities to cash in by selling fans videos of performances on flash drives or DVDs as they leave venues.

It appears that amateur video shared online at websites such as YouTube inspires fans to seek professional versions where money can be made.

"YouTube videos are the gateway drug," said a professional music videographer at Bandwidth. "I think most bands do embrace the bootleg model as a way to get people to the pro sites."

Artists can also cash in on data bases of contact information about fans, firing off emails or text messages to alert them to new songs, band merchandise, or show dates.

Online communities such as MySpace and Facebook are influential venues for musicians, since suggestions from friends factor into almost all purchase decisions, according to Rosenheim.

New age jukebox approaches that stream music online as paid or ad-supported services seem to be gaining traction.

Online radio service Pandora is showing lasting power and music streaming service Spotify offers an iPhone application considered a challenge to Apple's online shop.

"There are tons of new models around recorded music; most haven't worked," Rosenheim said. "People are consuming more than ever before. Unfortunately for the labels, they are not paying for it."

(c) 2009 AFP

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not rated yet Aug 29, 2009
What's wrong with the label's way of solving the problem? Just blanket the country with lawsuit threat mails, unless X thousand dollars is not paid immediately. Whole new business model, right there.
not rated yet Aug 29, 2009
I love the idea of musicians/artists being able to interact with their fans directly, especially when it comes to getting music. Cut out the labels entirely and let them twist in the breeze. There was a time when a centralized organization was needed to help get an artist's music out there, but not any more. Video will follow this same route, as soon as bandwidth availability allows producers to deliver their product directly to the customer via the internet rather than through huge, bloated marketing efforts and hype. I can't wait for the future of movies - all CGI, totally digital actors and actresses - no more obscenely high pay for a person just because they have a certain look, etc. All the middleman structure, marketing and high pay makes music and movies cost far more than they should, IMHO.
not rated yet Aug 29, 2009
So, you expect me to watch faux acting? Hah. We are weaned from 'TV' and could go back to print books just fine. Mass entertainment is worth stealing only.
not rated yet Aug 29, 2009
Hah indeed - acting is faux by definition - it is ACTING, not real life. So my point is that in the future, a set of algorithms will make faux as well as a person can. It's already started, and is going to get more refined and sophisticated. The needs of the market will drive it - no unions is one reason why producers will flock to it. Movie producers will have at their disposal "character editors" and "situation editors" to go with their "environment editors". Using tools like this, they will design fully functional digital/CGI actors or actresses almost as easily as you compose a document in Word. In the not too distant future, you won't be able to tell the "faux" version from the "real faux" version. Hah, hah!
not rated yet Aug 30, 2009
For me this is a great flashback to the days when everyone said they didn't need email, and then they didn't need a website, and then, all of a sudden, we had university professors teaching hungry execs $600/day courses in basic internet skills and html coding, all of them insisting this was a really great idea they just had. My best metaphor is that of someone in a railway tunnel who hears a rumble and sees the light ahead of them and then considers themselves brilliant and innovative because they turned around and ran like hell. my comments continue here:

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