LOVE/HATE: MUSIC BUSINESS AT ITS FINEST?

Originally Posted On November 7, 2014

It’s hard for someone like me to enjoy music all of the time. Weird right? Well let me explain. My love of music is not just the music itself. It’s also the business side, the tech side and anything else that goes along with it. This love/hate relationship I have with it has grown a little more dramatic as I’ve gotten older. Probably mostly due to the fact that I am becoming a grumpy old man in general but I also believe it’s because the entire industry has just become such a gong show! To me anyway.

Is there anyone in this industry with a plan or are we all just spinning our wheels and stabbing onward in the dark?

I mean, how is it that we are in a world with so many young amazing talents but the only band in the land willing to take business risks are in their mid-50’s – 60’s?! Yes the U2 album release has its fair share of naysayers but I mean come on! At least they went into it with a plan and tried it. It’s more than I can say for most of the other artists and industry players jockeying for position. Even musicians complain about the U2 approach and I just don’t understand why? I’m guessing it’s because they didn’t think of the idea first. I mean what a novel idea! Getting paid for your hard work creating an album worth of music AND being able to make the general public happy by offering it for free.

And let’s talk about the general public, or in this case iTunes subscribers, for a moment. In an era where they complain that they should be allowed to download music for free they suddenly raise their hands up when a band actually hands it over to them. Oh wait, that’s right, they weren’t mad at getting the music for free they were mad about the way it was delivered. Either way I applaud U2 every step of the way on this one and if they are the only band willing to take actual risks then I hope they never retire.

You wanna hear one of the big new ideas that the key stakeholders in this business they call music has to up their annual income statements? Universal Music will be giving their music video archive an overhaul of retroactive product placement. Ummmm….seriously! For those of you who might not get what that means here is a summation. They are going to allow companies to insert their brands into existing music videos on YouTube then swap them out once the paid campaign is done. We aren’t talking banner ads or commercials at the beginning of the video either. Here’s an example. A video of one of your favourite Universal Music artists shows them standing outside a brick building performing. The next time you watch it you might notice that a Grand Marnier Ad is now present on that building as if it were there all along in the shot. Not only that. If you watch that video again 30 days after that you might see a McDonald’s ad on that very same wall in place of the Grand Marnier ad. They’ll have you believe that the artist will make a cut of the profits on this but I would like to see how much. Is nothing sacred?

Why can’t the industry brain trust concentrate their efforts on coming up with a plan to monetize online music consumption so that the artists can be compensated appropriately? Why can’t they get together and work out a plan to decrease concert ticket pricing so that concert going can be something for everyone and not an elitist sport? Why can’t they come together and come up with a plan to stop ripping off their audiences with fake live performances passing them off as the real deal?

I think there are just so many wrongs in this industry that there will never be an overriding right. I’m not giving up hope because the flashes of brilliance are out there, they are just few and far between these days.