February 21, 2009

I took the decision to not write about online music industry news or new online music services a long time ago. Partly because there were many other, better sources of that information available, but also the sheer number of new music services launching on a daily basis is mind-boggling (Check out rocketsurgeon’s music 2.0 directory to see what I mean.)

The reason I’m breaking that self-imposed silence now is because something very rare is happening. A music service is changing how I interact and listen to music in a fundamental way – and the last time that happened was with eMusic back in 2006.

And it’s all because of – what was most notable about Spotify’s launch is that it wasn’t preceeded by Qtrax-esque posturing or SpiralFrog-like delusions of grandeur. It launched quietly in beta last year and instantly had everyone talking about it. The most amazing part of Spotify is, of course, the content. The licenses Spotify has with the majors are quite extensive – but the ONLY reason I know or care is because of Spotify’s flawless UI – it works like a pared-down version of iTunes allowing you to simply and quickly access an absolutely astounding amount of music.

But what’s truly exciting about Spotify is the services that are growing up around it. Just one example is – a catalog of various Spotify Playlists that can be accessed with a single click. Take the “Greatest Jazz Albums Ever” as an example. Or the Top 100 Songs of 2008 by Pitchfork. Just click the link and press play and an absolute cornucopia of the best music is streaming on your computer.

Granted, the catalog gaps can get quite annoying, especially trying to find content from indie labels – but that will come in a short time, I’m sure (Penny artists will be on Spotify within the next month or so…)

What Spotify does is begin to fulfill the true potential of online music – any song, anywhere, anytime. And what next? An iPhone App? A killer user-made service? The possibilities are unlimited and I, for one, am giddy with excitement.

What does this mean for music businesses or music marketing? Right now, I’m just too excited about what it means for me as a music fan. I’ll take a stab at that after I’ve finished listening to the entire back catalog of Talking Heads….

*Update – That didn’t take long – a great new, and more userfriendly, service just came live. Have a poke around here and you’ll understand the potential for disruption that Spotify presents –*


Start from scratch

February 16, 2009
Leonardo da Vinci, drawings of a bird in flight
Image via Wikipedia

Among the many things Penny’s been busy with lately, we’ve just started working with an artist who has an incredible talent, and although experienced, has little to no recorded output. A small fanbase has already been cultivated, but Penny along with a number of other music businesses, have entered into what amounts to a collective of music-minded and business experienced folk who are united by the appreciation for the artists works.

What’s most remarkable, even at this early stage, is how important authenticity is. Time was when you could build an artist persona from their experience – what shows they played, what reviews they’ve received, their discography – and those are important to be sure.

But more important today is what the artist is REALLY doing – how are they writing music? where? how are they sketching ideas for songs? how are they interacting with their peers, on and offline? what other bands are involved in the artists growth and development? WHERE is that artist writing and what affect does that have on the music? what is important to the artist OUTSIDE of music?

Where does this new focus on and need for authenticity come from? Artists like Little Boots & Imogen Heap aren’t playing for the camera, they really do sketch their ideas on YouTube – others use MySpace, Twitter or their own blog to share their thought processes and themselves.

Most important in all of this? There is no concern with reaching “as many people as possible” only for reaching “the right people”. There is an awareness that there are enough people watching who’ll appreciate you for what you do if you speak to them in the right way. And you can, and should, ignore the rest. The people who’re listening? They’re your tribe.

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