by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
business models, enabling, marketing, music


The New Music Business: Enabling Musicians To Take Advantage Of New Business Models

from the nice-to-see dept

It seems that whenever we write about various bands embracing new business models, one of the criticisms raised is this idea that we're somehow expecting musicians to also become businessmen to embrace these new models. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, we've pointed out that this is exactly the space on which record labels should be focused: helping musicians embrace these new business models, helping to handle the business and the technology, while the musicians focus on the music. Unfortunately, most major record labels still haven't figured this out, due to either legacy issues and contracts, an unwillingness to let go of old business models, or simple cluelessness.

Of course, the longer the major labels take to realize that this is where the market is headed, the bigger the opportunities there are for others to come in and fill that "enablement" gap. There are going to be more and more interesting startups entering the space. One that's starting to get some buzz is TopSpin, which just revealed its business late last week. TopSpin got some press a few months back by getting Yahoo Music boss Ian Rogers to join as CEO. We've written about some of Rogers' cogent writings on the music business before.

TopSpin isn't a record label, but it wants to basically enable all sorts of internet-based business models to work for musicians so that they can focus on making music. From the sound of it, that involves plenty of backend infrastructure, as well as front-end components, so that musicians can easily pick and choose custom, scaleable business models for their website with little effort. The company already has a nice headstart (and even some high profile customers). What may be most interesting, however, is to see how the business model opportunities evolve over time, as TopSpin may grow to have the best understanding of what business models really work, depending on what the circumstances are for the band. That could be incredibly powerful data by itself.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 24th, 2008 @ 6:13am

    Can they penetrate radio?

    I wonder how effective TopSpin is going to be helping its artists penetrate the radio market. Radio is still a valuable tool for getting your music heard and getting your name known (despite what the labels say). It certainly isn't the only venue, but it is still an important one.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Ima Fish, Jun 24th, 2008 @ 6:15am

    "this idea that we're somehow expecting musicians to also become businessmen to embrace these new models."

    I don't think this idea is far fetched. If you want to become successful in any business, including the music business, you either have to become a businessman yourself or pay someone to do the business side of your work for you.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 24th, 2008 @ 6:18am

    On the pessimistic side someone from either the *AA or a misguided musician is going to sue them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Chump, Jun 24th, 2008 @ 6:50am


    Business is business regardless of the model and we greedy, power-hungry humans always find a way to screw it up. This is no different than any other business.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    some old guy, Jun 24th, 2008 @ 7:44am

    Masnick's Law Invoked

    This can only work for really big name stars or brand new musicians. This could never work for struggling in between.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Chiropetra, Jun 24th, 2008 @ 9:20am


    I don't think most people appreciate how much even moderately successful musicians are already business people. That doesn't mean you have to be totally business oriented, but if you're going to be successful you're going to have to have at least some concern for products, market, career planning, etc. That's always been true.

    The opportunity here is that it will be easier to farm out the business part under the new models without getting raped in the process. And yes, "rape" is not a bad word to describe how the big record companies deal with musicians.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. icon
    Matt (profile), Jun 24th, 2008 @ 9:59am

    like I said the other day

    Like I said, marketing firms will end up helping with server hosting and things of that nature - something that not only is a legitimate business venture but also long-term.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Richard, Jun 24th, 2008 @ 10:35am

    Another Misleading Enterprise

    So, is this really supposed to help all artists? Unless these tools are available to everyone it will just be more of the same old same old.

    Take a look at the 'for artists' section...

    "...Artists will be invited to join on an individual basis..." Really? How does that help the small artists?

    or this one... "If you’re an artist ... and you have an existing fan base with an email list and a digital catalog, drop us a line at ..."

    Come on! These guys could care less about helping out artists. All they care about is getting a commission on the sales of established acts. Booo! Bad bad record label mentality!

    This is, again, a situation where *someone* (label or distributor or shop) makes a lot of money off of artists and the artists make squat. Same sh*t, different packaging. Seriously.

    When will the real revolution happen with music sales models? When will artists truly get paid what they deserve for making our lives as rich and full of beautiful music as they are?

    This can't go on for ever. Not unless all that anyone really wants to hear IS Banana Montana.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Niels Schroeter, Jun 24th, 2008 @ 10:56am

    Re: Can they penetrate radio?

    There's a high price to pay for that shot at radio, which even the majors have a low batting average on. Furthermore, many bands get on the radio too early and experience public burn out before they get a chance to build a real fan base. Create something great, build it methodically, and radio will have to eventually pay attention.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    some old gy, Jun 24th, 2008 @ 12:00pm

    Re: Another Misleading Enterprise

    This can't go on for ever. Not unless all that anyone really wants to hear IS Banana Montana.

    Hey now, that's not fair. She is every bit as talented as her dad. Which would be not talented at all. So clearly, two generations of audience has said "yes, all we really want is that no talent stuff you got right there!"

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 24th, 2008 @ 1:24pm


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    CalCajun, Jun 24th, 2008 @ 5:03pm


    Why does't the recording industry look at the real facts of why sales are down. When music went to DVD's some years back, sales increased as everybody paid for the same music they bought on LP's or cassette or 8-traks so they could get it on DVD. As time passed now most people have bought alot of the music they wanted on DVD and now sales are down because there is no NEW format to make us buy the same music again on another format. They should get together with the hardware makers and find some new exciting format so that everyone will want to purchase the same songs again on this new format and they will be making money again.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    jonny twotone, Jun 25th, 2008 @ 9:14am

    Re: RIAA

    Um, why keep buying the SAME MUSIC over and over again so you can give your money to the same companies over and over again? Ever listen to some NEW MUSIC????

    The reason ppl aren't buying music is because the artists are telling the fans to steal it and download it. NIN, Smashing Pumpkins... Musicians make no money from music. Screw the industry, it should die so the artists can make the money that is theirs...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Dionicio Gonzalez, Jun 25th, 2008 @ 11:16am

    Quality Services for All Artists (Famours or Not)

    My name is Dionicio Gonzalez, CIO and Co-Founder of NxSuperStar.In response to the comments about truly providing quality services that works for all artists (famous or not), NxSuperStar will introduce a business model that will do just that.

    Without giving too much away, be prepared to tell anyone and everyone that the wait will soon be over. NxSuperStar is the next house hold name for all artists, representatives, service providers and consumersof creative arts. NxSuperStar is expected to launch Beta in Fall of 2008.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Doc Kane, Jul 2nd, 2008 @ 4:29pm

    musicians can't be business-minded? Hooey.

    Mike, thanks for the post. I would argue, though, that artists should, without a doubt, become better business people. After all, the record industry is a business, and there are countless tales of entertainers whose fortunes were laundered for them merely because they focused too much on music and not enough on business.

    We all certainly need to play to our strengths and farm out what we're not particularly good at, but if entertainers in film, sport and music rely solely on others to do the business-side of things, they're asking for trouble. Record labels, agents, management firms, etc., are not baby-sitters, they're businesses -- and artists should not expect them to run their lives for them.

    In my view, and I'm pretty sure this is TopSpin's angle, the firm actually enables artists to leverage technology in ways that actually DO give them a better handle on their marketing, their CRM and ultimately their sales.

    The old Peter Drucker adage of "What gets measured, gets managed" is true, and if more artists, learned it and paid attention to their careers as if they were the CEO of their own band, they would be much more wise, wealthy and "in control" as a result.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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