Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Where is Art & Entertainment headed?
John (http://johntooker.posterous.com/) sent me these two links last night...
Here are some thoughts after reading them:
I agree with Amanda Palmer. She totally has the right idea. Why the hell should you not be compensated for the art you create? The idea of every artist or band being a street a street performer and saying "Yo, give me some money!" might be a bit hard for some to adjust to, but it does make a lot of sense.
Marqui Adora (http://www.marquiadora.com) rarely played shows for this exact reason. We quickly got tired of haggling Promoters to get paid at the end of the night after playing with 10 other bands on a tiny stage not large enough for a drum kit let alone a 4 piece band and a shit PA. We knew we were never going to be singing with a record label and endless touring when no one knows who you are wasn't really appealing either. John and I continually said there has to be a better way. We went the music licensing route and even though we had some successes, when the well ran dry on placement opportunities, we quickly realized we had no real fan base, not one large enough to support us, and it was time to get day jobs. And although the music industry is in flux, some really awesome things are happening as a result. For one, John and I know a shit ton about how to fix and troubleshoot an Apple Computer and Danny knows how to expertly make your mouth water while preparing food in the kitchen. Howard can make a new tooth for ya.
With the basement musician guy... he is just as silly to me as Jonathan Coulton (http://www.jonathancoulton.com), but he has good ideas, just like Jonathan. And for that matter so did Radiohead with their Thumbs Down webcast videos during In Rainbows.
These videos got me excited to go see them live. And many bought the Box Sets. I paid five bucks for the record, even after getting the whole thing free a week or two before it's "Official" release.
The key here is both artists are taking chances and go about their business in ways that make the most sense to them. Neither of their approaches will work for everyone but they will work for those who put in the time and energy to build relationships with the fans/customers.
"Bob Lefsetz says it's all about the live show, what about recorded music and all the money I spent buying recording gear and the time I spent learning how to do it on my own? Does recorded music have value any more?"
Good question. I ask my self that question whenever I go into my office and see 10's of thousands of dollars worth of recording equipment, instruments, computers and shelves full of 12" records and CD's. I ask myself that question whenever I think of how many times I listened to "The Downward Spiral" , "Broken" and "The Slip"; or the number of times I walked to school listening to "Disintegration", "Pornography" and that Ethyl Meatplow record; or the time I spent dissecting "Fook", and the many drives to anywhere just to listen to "Either/Or" and "XO"; Or how about the trips to Orlando with "Ruby Vroom" or "The Bends" as the soundtrack or the number of times I just sat down with headphones to take in "In Rainbows" or even most recently "xx". Of course these recordings have value! Look at how much use I got out of them! I see the music landscape becoming more interesting everyday and I think the value of recorded music is still there and is expanding in the form of royalties through services like Spotify. Not that Spotify is the end of the line, but it's a big step in the right direction when it comes to this topic.
Which leads me to my next topic...
Ownership vs. Access.
As for Art and Entertainment as a whole, I feel really comfortable with the idea of owning very little but having access to everything. I've been doing that for years with Movies (The Theatre, Netflix, iTunes etc.) and now with Spotify I'll be doing it more so with music (don't worry eMusic, I still love you). The People who really want the access will pay for it via subscription or buy the Album/Song/Movie out right, those who don't will tolerate the Ad's because really, they don't care that much anyway, otherwise they would own the record/movie themselves. I feel the same applies with Books, TV, Radio and all forms of art that can be digitized. When on demand services mature and every play/stream/download is accurately accounted for and reported to the rights holders and collections services, the amount of revenue generated as whole will be insane, even at fractions of a penny per download. And of course Labels, Publishers and Movie Studios will find their place again by delivering prominence and front page placement. It will all level out
You can't buy the Statue of Liberty, but you can pay admission and see it in person... while you're there you can buy a print, a postcard, a t-shirt, go home and download the screen saver or desktop img, etc. This applies to the Album and seeing a band live. You can't own the band (well, ok maybe you can), but you can own a copy of the album digitally, a t-shirt, a poster, blah blah blah. And there will always be diehards who want a collectable, like a CD, Vinyl or A Super Duper Blue Ray ultra amazing 5.1 more real than real Audio/Video 3D DVD 128 Page Full Color (to big for your book shelf and takes up so much space on your coffee table that you can't actually place a cup of coffee on it) Enhanced Box Set Thingy.
We (bands this means you) just have to stick around long enough to capitalize off of all the changes ahead of us.