Hello. My Name Is Martin — And I'm A Creative Administrator
from the my-story dept
With our CwF + RtB experiment in full swing, we’ve asked some of the participants involved to provide some guest posts, including their thoughts on the experiment itself. Martin Thörnkvist runs the Swedish Record label Songs I Wish I Had Written, who represents Moto Boy, one of the artists involved in our Techdirt Music Club. If you order both the Techdirt Music Club and the Techdirt Book Club before midnight PT, August 3rd, we’ll throw in a free Techdirt hoodie, or a free lunch with Mike Masnick. We asked Martin to write about his experiences with the “new” music world and new music business models:
In 1999 I attended a Ron Sexsmith concert. As always, he did a great performance. He did an amazing cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hey That’s No Way To Say Goodbye.” The way he introduced made me even more exited: as he played the intro, Ron said, “this is a song I wish I had written.” That’s admiration of somebody else’s art.
Some years before, I had tried to learn play the guitar. I remember one summer in particular I spent way too many hours trying to learn Yellow Submarine. Damn, was I bad. Instead of tearing my hair out while playing guitar, I decided to channel my love for music in another way: I started a web-based fanzine. This was four years before MySpace, and to make it possible for our readers to listen to the obscure indie pop acts (artists like Peter Bjorn and John, Jose Gonzales and Jens Lekman) we wrote about, we started a special webshop for music. Some years later, we got tired of the fanzine, but after some months I missed the webshop bit and started it up again. After a few months, I asked a new band called Eurosport if I could sell their CDs — to which they let me know they didn’t have any! Still, I loved their songs and asked them if they wanted me to print a cover and burn some CDRs, and they agreed. After receiving a threat of being sued, the band changed their name to Le Sport, and the first song they had ever written (and I ever released) turned out to be a summer hit in Sweden. I went with the flow and tried to learn how the music business work. Suddenly, I had a record label. Wihoo.
The name of the label was of course: Songs I Wish I Had Written. The statement I wrote then still pins it down quite well, I think:
“We see this label as a frame that puts pieces of art in the focal point. It’s the art itself that is important; the frame exists as a context which further emphasizes the brilliance of the chosen creations.”
Now, as you can imagine: a guy with no experience and no money had to rely on something other than the traditional ways of doing things. Luckily for me, some years before the label was founded, the internet had become popular — with music fueling much of its progress.
“Hey, what a perfect match,” I thought. My main goal is to spread the music I love, and here’s the most powerful copying machine the world has ever seen at my desktop, free to use. The main reason for the instant success of Le Sport (apart from the great songs) was our way of using free music as a way to market the music. We were sure that the more listeners we got, the more buyers we would get.
I’ve never really felt any need to think about my role in relation to the artist I work with. I have always gone with the flow. But lately, after a variety of in-depth discussions on the future of the music business, I’ve started to think more of my specific role in all of this. I think there is a need for a discussion on the role of middlemen in the music industry. I think that’s because, to me, it’s crucial to make correct (or at least good) decisions on future possibilities and strategies.
In the work of positioning what you offer to your costumers, I think you get a good picture of what contemporary reality looks like. You learn from both the good and bad examples that others are executing in music industry (and other digital content industries). So how could I position myself, where it would be obvious which powerful tools can be used in an inventive way in order to be the best in the world to offer what I need to offer?
The two most important cornerstones I defined for my future work are:
- to make the music I work with available in as many ways my customers want to listen to it and
- help the artist I work with with creative ideas to engage with those listeners.
I would like to coin a new term for the type of modern music professional I see myself as being. I’m hereby dubbing myself as a CA – Creative Administrator.
To explain the admin bit: Most artists I know aren’t even able to keep a calendar! That’s ok, but they surely need help. And so do their fans, who all are wandering around in an all you can eat Mecca. Musicians need an admin and fans require reasons to buy. I need to be creative and always keep an eye (if you have been in the biz longer than me you’ll probably need to keep two — and it probably helps to talk to your kids every day to keep track of what they’re doing) on the reality of what I can and should offer my customers, artists and fans: something they can’t get elsewhere.