Nordic Music Week: Optimism Galore And Found Songs
from the good-times dept
Last week, I had the pleasure of attending the Nordic Music Week event held in Stavanger, Norway. It was a smaller event, mainly involving those involved in the music industry in the Nordic countries (Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Iceland), with a heavy emphasis on independent musicians, as there were no major label representatives there. As such, the event was quite different than most of the typical music industry events I go to. There was very little fretting and worrying about "piracy" and such, and most of the discussions were quite forward looking and forward thinking. In fact, I'd say much of the event was downright optimistic about where the music industry was heading. While there were many great discussions (and I liked the fact that much of the event was focused around open table discussions, rather than just presentations), one of the most interesting presentations was by Òlafur Arnalds, an Icelandic musician, who started his presentation off by saying he disagreed with me and my presentation (which had been an updated variation on my NARM presentation), and had adjusted his presentation to be a response of sorts to mine. Except it wasn't. His presentation was yet another great example of a musician who understood exactly what works in the industry, even as he thought he disagreed with me. We later chatted briefly about it, and realized we're actually very much in agreement about where we stand on the industry. The confusion came about because he is really focused on the music, and felt that my presentation focused too much on the money aspect.
And, indeed, my presentation did focus somewhat on how to make money, but that's because if I just focus on the music, people complain that no one will make money and then no one will make music. But, of course, that's ridiculous. None of these models work particularly well if you don't make great music. And Òlafur Arnalds makes great music -- and once we started talking, even he admitted that in order to do what he does, he needs (and wants) to make a living (which he does). And his actual presentation was about how to do just that. It was all about how he closely connected with his fans and gave them a reason to buy (even if he didn't like to think that way). Instead, he noted that he needed to come up with a good story to go with the music, that would help attract his fans, better connect them to him while also giving them a reason to support him monetarily.
So, with that idea (having a story behind the music) as his basis, he came up with a great project called 'Found Songs', where he would write, record and release a new song every single day for seven straight days. He did it all out of his bedroom. His fans then stepped up and created artwork for each song, and in some cases, amazing videos, such as this one below, which is truly beautiful, and within days had thousands upon thousands of views:
You can watch the videos, look at the artwork people created for the songs and even download all the songs for free as mp3s. But, there's also a store where you can buy the beautifully packaged vinyl or CD versions of the album, and some higher quality digital downloads. In other words, it was yet another perfect example of connecting with fans and giving them a reason to buy (and, yes, it involved great music as well -- which is, in fact, key). The importance of having a good story to go along with things, as we've seen with other projects, is a particularly good point. And, again, it shows how an infinite good (a good story) can increase the value of a scarce good (the products you're selling). He also showed how his own fanbase increased massively after doing this project -- much more so than when he was out opening for Sigur RÃ³s. So, in the end, we absolutely agreed, and I found out about some more great music and yet another great story and example to go along with all the others.
Beyond that, I met a bunch of fascinating people doing very interesting and unique things in the music industry in the Nordic region. All of the Nordic countries are working hard to help enable their bands to adapt to a changing music environment, and there are definitely some very creative indie labels, artists and managers who are thinking through and implementing some great ideas that left me quite enthusiastic for what comes next. I also got a chance to meet Moto Boy, who took part in our CwF+RtB experiment, and see him perform live (which was fantastic). Overall, a very encouraging trip.