My friend Tom emailed me to let me know he heard Chicago Tribune music critic (and host of the excellent
music podcast Sound Opinions
) Greg Kot on public radio's Marketplace
, and said it sounded like I was talking, based on what was being said. Indeed, the interview hits on a lot of what we usually talk about here
, noting how the old industry is overreacting, and there's a new music business that's growing rapidly by embracing what fans want:
There is a part of the music industry that is dying as a result of what's happening on the Internet. But I think a new industry is being born, a grassroots industry.
Kot is asked to describe the business model, and he notes the importance of community (though, he leaves out the latter part of the equation -- the "reason to buy" part):
I think what it comes down to is building a community around what an artist may do. I think what was happening in the past, where everything was being funneled through a few big corporations, a few big record companies, a few big radio stations, fans really didn't feel personally invested in the artist. And what the Internet is facilitating is artists communicating directly with their fans and vice versa. To the point where you have fans participating in the art, whether it's making videos, or doing remixes, they feel part of the equation. And as a result they're investing in the artist in numerous ways.
After naming (of course) Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails as bands that have it figured out, Kot's asked about how smaller, less well-known bands can do things, and Kot's got a ready answer (though, he doesn't name names -- even though there are many such examples):
You know, it's very hard to keep a secret on the Internet. If your music is genuinely good, you will not be a secret for very long. I think the key is start small, start with a community base, start with a few hardcore fans and build it from there. And secondly lower your overhead. Keep your operations small and surround yourself with a few invested businessmen. In other words, you still need infrastructure, but it should be a lot smaller.
All in all a good interview, though probably won't break much new ground for readers here. Still, it's nice to see Kot recognize these things, and makes me interested in reading his recent book, Ripped: How the Wired Generation Revolutionized Music