Don't Dismiss Musicians Who Forge Their Own Path
from the subjectivity dept
We recently wrote about Tom Silverman’s interview where, in the course of “predicting” the future of the music business, he took some potshots at services like TuneCore for being just for “hobbyists.” In that article, he basically said that TuneCore users were just “clogging” the system:
80 percent of all records released are just noise — hobbyists. Some companies like TuneCore are betting on the long tail because they get the same $10 whether you sell one copy or 10,000. Who uses Photobucket and Flickr? Not professional photographers — those are hobbyists, and those are the people who are using TuneCore and iTunes to clutter the music environment with crap, so that the artists who really are pretty good have more trouble breaking through than they ever did before.
As I noted in my original post on the interview, I thought Silverman was making a big mistake in dismissing those “hobbyists,” since a bunch of them seemed to be making a decent living — and the numbers were growing. I also found the “crap” comment to be pretty obnoxious. We see that type of comment here all too often. We’ll point to some unique content creator who is doing something impressive, and the response (often from angry industry insiders) is that “yeah, but the content is crap.” It’s a funny sort of reaction. It’s as if these people are so afraid that others with better business models will drive them out of business that they need to pre-emptively mock the quality — even if the content seems to be exactly what a certain market is looking for. There are lots of content creators that we talk about whose content I don’t personally care for. But my personal opinion on the quality of the content is meaningless. It’s a question of personal tastes, and if there’s an audience for the content, then, clearly something’s working right.
I wasn’t the only one who felt that the “cluttering with crap” comment was out of line. TuneCore’s Jeff Price (who has been having quite a back-and-forth with Silverman lately) issued quite the sarcastic apology, while mocking the idea that only Silverman gets to decide what is quality music:
We’re sorry that the fact that people are buying music from TuneCore Artists is stopping people from buying music that Tommy likes. If Tommy could only control what music you get exposed to you would be more inclined to buy his music. It’s actually a brilliant strategy: limit choice, force the releases you want to sell down people’s throats, control what music is exposed by the media outlets (like radio and MTV) and then take all the money from the sales that come in. Oh wait, my mistake, that’s the way it was in the old music industry, and 98% of what the majors labels released failed. I guess limiting choice does not make music sell.
Price also points out that Silverman’s claim that this is “clogging” the market is ridiculous. It’s not like people can’t find what they want. If that’s a problem, it’s a problem of filters, not a problem of too much music. I tend to listen to some fairly obscure music in some specific genres, and sure there are acts in those areas that I don’t think are very good, but it’s pretty easy to quickly figure out who is good and who is not and move on. Claiming that “bad” artists somehow hurt good artists is ridiculous. You hear it all the time in various industries, but it’s the same silly story all over again. More content creators don’t take anything away from good content creators. Good content creators can and do still thrive.