Hardware & Software

“This was meant to be a match made in heaven/instead we are slowly drifting in the opposite direction.”

Napster scared the dickens out of the label. The digitization of tracks showed us that good music can not be controlled and that labels should not be the ones deciding what is good for the listening audience (that the invention of social media platforms were not going to be used as thought, or the artist is never bigger than the song type of thing).

The technology changed the business, it did not, however, change the music. The label depends on the music to sustain their business, this means they depend on the artist to furnish them the music so they can make a business from it (this has not changed). But a big change has occurred and many label executives are blinded by it (I’ve sat in their offices and looked in their eyes). To get this streaming revolution going we have to thank Daniel Ek and Tim Westergren, who, without their services none of this would be possible, but it is their services which do not have as bright a future as the others (as they hire label/radio model error types, expect engineers to curate music, aren’t that profitable, are only licensed apps not playback devices, etc.).

I started listening to Pandora in 2005 and quickly maxed out the 100 stations, which to this day play predictable music (developed world type of stuff). Then there’s the limit on many times you can hear a song…Spotify is so sporadic, I have anxiety every time I let it do its thing. 

The labels had a physical product, they lost it to Napster types and have been steady trying to gain back some relevance in the physical space of music (360 deals take from touring revenue). Now that labels own stakes in Spotify, Pandora, etc. they are using this as their physical product or CD revenue. (Thus the reason they have tried to model streams to match album sales, but a stream is not a physical piece of anything!!! We must never forget this key business driver: The record labels had a physical product to sell, they do not have a physical product any longer. Where the heck is their money coming from?) Right now all of Big Streaming negotiates with the label for the same music (mostly old catalogue music made by musicians, not EDM digital stuff which is found free all over the internet). This means, Rhapsody, Apple Music, Spotify, Pandora et al are basically the same channel. Sub channels inside do not count, as this is too much work for an individual with tastes in music, (plus these tastes are being curated by the furthest from a musical person, with computer engineers). There is no way I am going to Spotify for Ambient, Jazz, Hip-Hop, EDM, etc… they cannot be great at all of them. Would you want an orthopedic surgeon operating on your heart?

We have to have the device before the app, and Apple/Google are steady trying to be the device in your hands, or the gramophone in your home.  Any extra steps, beyond the device needed to play the music, are going to become so fragmented that Big Streaming Apps (BSAs) will slowly be fettered out. How is this possible you say? Take a little look at radio, all music, stories, news, weather, etc. all started on one station. As radio (and record technology) grew in frequencies, and in listeners, the music spread out across stations. Radio stations started becoming format driven (580 became classical, 1640 became jazz, 1200 became news and weather and so on and so forth). Labels began signing a certain type of sound and when the technology grew, more sounds were created, and added, and so forth. The advent of FM changed it once again as a new radio band was able to broadcast a completely new style/sound/genre not being broadcast on AM, it fragmented/branched out again with genre labels and more and more music was made (so many labels, signing so many different sounds). We are destined to see a fragmenting once again, with distribution all over the place, finding the right niche of listener, but not as we’ve seen it in the past.

you can see the fractalness of where this is going, genre branching as streaming apps grow and become formatted…the U2 album inside itunes will be a lot like the future but not as forced….

Soon, all BSAs will all have a free tier (playing singles in format style like radio) and a subscription tier for the fan who wants the album (extra content). Now here is where it will get tricky, if BSAs begin formatting with the label sooner than later. They may have a future, but they will still be light years behind, as no one has seem to have caught on yet that labels, radio, and publishing never knew who was listening, but are being hired today (By BSAs) to help deduce business models around who is listening. The labels, (I am using terminology here, as record labels today will most definitely not look like record labels of the future. So the term will change with the intended meaning of what a “record label is.” The future demands an investment in the most lucrative area of the industry, which is live, and labels today do not care for live. New “live first” (vs marketing first) labels will emerge and be your “new label”) well, their only chance of survival (without some drastic, intervention & overhaul) is to do as Motown did, with a set sound of what they are willing, and capable to promote, and with a matching station (streaming service) playing Motown specific music. But today still you have multiple genres at one label, all running the same business model and licensing all their music to these BIG services. This is due for an overhaul, but they do not see it coming, hence the blindness. The physical product remains visible, but the technology remains invisible.

Royalties are a hard business to crack. Publishers, rights holders, and rights management all had a nice run with the label/radio model because no one knew who was listening, so it was easy to hide (with smoke and mirrors) their lack of value in the system.  The court system (copyright board) is on fire and I think a proper tracking of payments technology will have to be established before courts can adjust. 

In the good ol days, of the label controlling the music we hear, they set up manufacturing services for vinyl, eight track tapes, cassettes, mini-discs, CD’s, laser discs, all types physical pieces of technology. But before this, parts of some labels were also manufacturing the playback device. RCA made gramophones, and Sony made walkmans and portable transistor radios. They merged with the rights owners, as the rights owners needed their devices to remain valid in people’s homes and in their ears and the technology needed the rights owners to deliver content. Today the equivalent of a gramophone has to have a connection to the internet and comes from a playback device made by some of these companies: Apple (iphone), Google (phone), Samsung (phone), LG (phone), Blackberry (phone) and some more stationary devices like a Sonos soundbar, all physical (you can touch) pieces. Two of these have built in streaming services in Apple Music and Youtube Music (owned by Google). One is loved by the recording industry for its large customer base and hefty profits (for the label) the other is hated for their even larger customer base with lesser profits (for the label, and more for the artist who is independent). I will never argue a 50/50 split when the label has been getting >70% with streams. With proper structures in place to retrieve playback data, we will see a healthier industry, but before music gets paid, the music has to be deemed valuable. What has been valuable to the label since MTV has been much more image driven than audible. But looks don’t matter in reality and in reality the artist has to prove his or herself in the real transaction of live (that forgotten industry that’s way older than recording technology, and more robust). “You can’t fool too many people for too long” -Nassim Taleb

We should very skeptical of record labels owning a piece of these BSAs. The labels missed the boat on creating a new technology (that interacts with the fans) so how are they somehow still afloat? In the place of a physical product the labels negotiated with Spotify, Pandora, etc to be part equity owners in the product they did not create (sound familiar). This has been the label game for some time, let others do the work, then claim you own a share for doing absolutely nothing. When I say nothing I mean without skin-in-the-game. The label will not be helping drive your band’s van/trailer. They will not be unloading or loading gear. They will not be writing songs, or playing on stage, or offer much support in the realm of performance, and they most definitely aren’t coming to the show. Today the lowest part of a record deal is still tour support and the highest is marketing. These non-interactive types are the furthest thing from understanding the real transaction of the artist/listener experience, yet they remain inside BSAs trying to figure out how to create a User Experience, on a User Interface, without ever experiencing or interacting with a user (listener) face-to-face. I wish they would all quit their jobs but it’s not that easy.

The problem being, the BSAs remain in bed with the label (who remain non-interactive) until the label can produce their own service or do better/different deals with the Playback Devices (PBs/phones). If the playback devices get smart, they will not need the labels or the BSAs to make music have a great future. YouTube is already a direct line to the listener, which cut out an extra step (agency problem) in the process of listening to music. Youtube has production facilities and Apple has done at least two direct deals with artists who bypassed a label. In this future Spotify and Pandora are destined to remain non-interactive. Which leads us to question their data analyses of interactive transactions, when they have never interacted in the real transaction.

The data to match the listening audience was never possible inside the old technology. In the bullseye radio market, a song could be spun 7 times a day, in an area of 300,000 listeners, and with some scientific mumbo-jumbo formula (which included focus groups) they would attempt to tell us how many people (but not who) were listening. This is some messy data as no one really knows who was listening, just like no one knows if Alicia Keys first record sold 500,000 copies in the first week because one man (Clive Davis) bought 300,000 of them. These tactics are the same as going to a chinese take-out and seeing a tip jar full of cash. Did every customer tip or did the owner stuff the jar with cash from the register, no one knows. But what we do know, with interactive data, is who is listening, when and where, think of it like a concert ticket…Friday night, at the 9:30 Club, there will be people listening to the sounds of so and so. This real transaction data has been taking place long before the gramophone was ever invented. The label’s business (built on gramophone technology) was to promote singles (through radio spins) and sell (physical) albums (through record stores). Their distribution started with radio and they gave radio whatever they thought would spin. Today a stream is neither a sale (album) or a spin (radio) because today we have the choice to stream (invisibly) what we want.

Now that the physical piece of music has been digitized, the influence and power of the industry falls on the remains physical pieces needed to play music. Think your phone, an instrument, a musician (something you can touch).

Look at this crap. You are an independent artist (congratulations) who feels as though you should put your music on Spotify and Pandora because this is what people without skin-in-the-game are telling you to do. They will not be harmed by their words, they are only talkers and you should avoid them like the plague. You write a hit, and put it on these services, which are partly owned by a label, now your fans, your music, and your hard work is in part being shared by a label who have done nothing, not even market your songs. This was all done by an audience liking the song enough to share it and listen again and again and by you or your band possibly touring and gaining credit in the market. All the while your song(s) are influencing an even bigger audience to use said platform (BSA) more and more. In the meantime you see no money (or very little money) and are leading your followers to platforms partly owned by labels, but you have no desire to be on a label. Now if your followers subscribe, they are paying a label and a service to stream your music. The pooling of payments has got to stop.  Mariah Carey does not see revenue from Macy Gray’s concerts sales. These services use ads to reach your followers and pay for their vacations with this ad revenue, but do not share this ad revenue with you, or invite you on their vacation. Weird right, sounds just like radio. This is not good business, using old models with new technology. I can’t think of anyone who would look at this model and say, “yes, that’s the future…your skin, in their game.”

So even though we were fortunate to hear some of the amazing singles we did, partly owed to artists (who demanded, if not more, that this or that song be the single) and partly owed to a different era of the label biz, (when label execs didn’t put marketing first but wrote songs and went to shows) what we did not hear about are the thousands of artists who had the talent, the single and the wherewithal to make it, but succumbed to the label’s idea of an album cycle, and drowned in obscurity.

Everyone in music knows their role, and if they don’t, they become helicopter enthusiasts, uber drivers, or pickled egg makers, you get the point, they end up doing something else. Most label executives are leaving for other things. Take a look at one head of A&R, who just loves Broadway musicals. He too believes music is about image and followed his heart right on out of the music business taking his label with him. Artists do not stay around forever and neither should these executives and their antiquated models that do not fit the new technology. These non-interactive models are so mispriced in the market, that is interactive, it is only a matter of time until history jumps in favor of the artisan/entrepreneur.

Problem: artists/entrepreneurs are not seeing the proper payments in an interactive setting mostly due to a system of non-interactives trying to captain the ship

So there seems to be two questions that remain… Will the government do a Ma Bell on the record labels (giving streaming services equal footing in the market) or will Apple/Google be able to purchase Warner/Universal/Sony…and if they purchase said labels, are they smart enough to revamp interactive music, without the presence of those non-interactive types?

The bifurcation of a pre-streaming label and post-streaming label is upon us. The label can keep their old catalogue, I’ll be over here working with new model artists who wish to retain their intellectual property.

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“Ever held a gun? You immediately feel the power. To maim, to kill.” @Lefsetz

We all want to see the music industry flourish, but first we need to take care of the sick & the mentally-ill. This is more important than which music streaming service gets an IPO next.

As we get closer to the end of life we all will say and/or do things that do not fit our past profile. We may not believe Bob’s music reviews or follow his analysis, but we believe he can get better. It can’t happen by itself, we need all of you who care about music to drop what you think about critics and think about the health of an individual, and it starts with interaction from the community that he doesn’t feel a part of. Having never worked in music, Bob is reaching out when he posts his inner feelings for the entire music/tech industry to read them. If you read Lefsetz Letter or don’t, Bob needs our help. 

Going forward, we will add Bob’s name to all shows and guest-lists, with a +1. We will send him invites, and tickets to shows that he may have never thought he would attend, and we ask all of you to do the same. Reach out and offer what you can, a helping-hand, a kind word, or just a hello so Bob knows we are on his side. Bob, you are welcome to join us for catering, hang backstage, and even pick up an axe to jam a bit. We want to help you Bob, and we will help you.

*For everyone’s safety & security inside music venues, all guests are frisked and wanded.

#Live & Later

Happy Anniversary @Twitter

Over the past year I have thought a lot about how music data is currently being analyzed (like a calf at a new gate). Before we try to analyze data from interactive channels we will first look at who does best “at what” and try to solve for the most valuable use case. Overall I hope this post will help us all better understand the relationship between Twitter and Music.

What prompted this post was when I heard a CNBC host say Twitter was a store. It is easy to see that Twitter is not much a store as it is customer service. Breaking down the customer service chain the most direct connection between brand and product is the manufacturer and the user (or the architect and the home dweller) This bond of trust is bigger than the realtor, who acts as a salesmen in the process, but will not incur any responsibility if the house collapses. (i.e. No Skin-In-The-Game)

~Musicians are on @Twitter and so are their fans

For the musician who wants to keep in touch with their fans this is best done via Twitter.

Let’s say you are a fan of music and your favorite band/artist are soon coming to town. You bought tickets to the show but you also enter a contest to upgrade to a VIP meet-n-greet. Luck strikes and you win the contest. In an email from the VIP tour department you’re told that the meet-n-greet will happen one hour before the show, and will take place backstage. Deep down you know your time will be limited and you won’t be the only one in the meet-n-greet. Due to the timing of the meet happening just before the show, you also know it won’t offer much time to interact with your favorite artist/band. Just imagine if the meet-n-greet was post performance. The excitement to see a band after their performance grows as the show goes on through the night. This time slot would be even shorter plus you would have to deal with family and friends being backstage after the show which would limit your interaction even more.  So the strategy is in place. You show up early, park, enter the venue, find a security guard and tell them you won a VIP meet-n-greet, security finds the right individual working with the tour staff and directs you to a holding area. Once the entire VIP group arrives everyone gets to go backstage. (The dynamics change if it is a band or solo artist, but for the story we will stick with a solo act).

Next, you enter through a door near the stage, file down a hall and wait again before entering the area (probably the green room) where you will be lucky enough to get to interact with your favorite artist. There are roughly 20 people in this line. The VIP assistant states that there will only be time for a photo, no autographs (as signing papers or ticket stubs takes way too much time). Unknown to you, and the group, there was a snag in traffic and ground transportation has just relayed to the production staff that a wreck has the artist held up just a few blocks from the venue. The VIP assistant has a schedule to abide by and turns to the crowd to make an updated announcement. “Those individual photos can not happen, but instead there will now be two group photos of 10 people each. Remember, we are on a time crunch and that showtime stamped on your ticket has to happen the way it says. The show must go on. But do not fret, you still get to meet your favorite artist.”

It’s time and timing is everything. You dressed for the occasion, you have your brightest and biggest smile on, and you even popped a mint. The VIP assistant (or Tour manager, friend, whomever) walks towards the corner of the room where the entrance door resides. A hush comes over the lucky twenty and in walks ________________. Your mouth gets dry, your palms sweaty, and your eyes bug out of your head. You’re about to cross a major one off of your bucket list. The first of two photos is your group and lucky you, you are placed right next to ________________. You have a quick second to say something before the photo. If the first thing that comes out of your mouth is a Facebook post, you have failed, but not you, you’re a smart fan. You get that artists are crunched for time like everyone else and you decide to drum up the best 140 characters you can think of in order to make a simple but lasting impression on your favorite artist. One of the best interactions has just taken place, and you will remember this experience for life. Score. A direct message, reply or mention from__________ is sure to be a backstage moment.

There will always be more people tweeting at the artist from the crowd, you will know them because they usually scream “i love you” or their favorite song’s name or may even try to heckle the act, but have no fear these folks rarely get a response from the stage.

Some extra tidbits…

~Constraint

Enlarging the character limit goes against economics… the less characters, the more valuable the tweet. (see: rare metals)

The internet is about speed; 140 characters are quicker to read than 10,000

If someone unloads a Facebook post on you in person you will probably feel drained. 140 characters are closer to how we communicate face-to-face dialogue.

Technology: do more with less (a whole EDM post can be written about this statement)

~Connection

Interactive transactions with those outside of our circle adds to our knowledge base.

Sharing information on Twitter and being able to connect with those who share similar interests is by far one of its most valuable use cases.

The Facebook pie is mostly those we have already interacted with in real-life. Rarely do you add a friend on Facebook whom you have never met, but following someone on Twitter that you have never met is half the point.

The connection process on Twitter essentially connects those who have never met in person but who may share similar interests.

~News

The effects (80%) of Facebook are caused (20%) on Twitter or What happens on Twitter is talked about on Facebook.

LIVE

Twitter = Activate (set in motion, initiate, turn on)

LATER

Facebook = Disseminate (circulate, distribute, spread)

The news rarely reports on a Facebook post

“Tweet us your photo” (says CNN, The Weather Channel, etc)

or “Use hashtag ___”

Miracle on The Hudson… Political conversations…. Copyright…

~Customer Service vs. The Storefront

Facebook is a much better retail store than Twitter.

Retail is about traffic, about volume, about quantity.

Musicians mention their merch table and future shows from the stage but rarely sell t-shirts and tix from the stage. (Artists should stop trying to sell stuff from Twitter/The Stage)

Facebook is more similar to the “Merch Table” than it is to “the show” or “backstage”. The storefront is Facebook , the distributor is Amazon, and customer service is Twitter.

Twitter is like Google because Twitter is where we go for deduced information.

Amazon is to Facebook (stuff everyone needs, people you already know)

as

Google is to Twitter (information aggregation and relative, real-time search capabilities)

The distributor is Amazon, and the aggregator of deduced information is Google.

In the near future Twitter will need to become even more like Google (with modifications) or be bought by Google. Imagine Google’s page rank/algorithm, sharing which links are most associated with Twitter and then a tractable source from where the links originated before they were disseminated.

~Demographics

A way to look at Facebook being the “store” is to look at the average age of those who purchased Adele’s latest CD. It is the same average age of those who use Facebook. 40+  which have the bulk of the money and are most likely to use Facebook as a store.

With some 2014 info from @NestaMusic

EDM fans tweeted 1.85x more than the average Twitter user at 11 times a day. Approximately 1/3 of those tweets were about EDM. These passionate EDM fans posted about their genre 52% more than the broad genre music fans. EDM fans also tweeted about their listening behavior four times as much as other music listeners and generated approximately 72% more conversations on the major topics in their lives. They post about events 30% more than other music fans, with 1 in 4 posts about EDM occurring during a live event.” 

~Business of Live

Music fans engage with music in a multitude of different ways, but the the closest possible engagement between a fan and the music happens at the live show, and Twitter is live.

Live context is volatile, uncertain and complex. How does Twitter incorporate a LIVE music experience inside their product?

With Twitter it is better to have perspective than process. Facebook is the other way around.

How to build business from these areas comes first from understanding what they are great at doing and then build a data narrative from that, not the other way around.

So here, in the age of the disappearing salesmen (and a probable reason for the nostalgic effect of “Mad Men”) one who claims an ability to market on Facebook, but has no intention to work customer service on Twitter, is not ready to add value to the overall pie. We can not put live in a box.

Customer service is best done Live.

Entities who have the experience servicing the music customer in live events are accustomed to complex structures and managing uncertainty at the speed of live.

How to help Twitter therefore becomes how to the incorporate a LIVE music business experience inside their product.

~Twitter and Music

Like most musical artists, Twitter is misunderstood.   

There will always be less people backstage, or at the live show than outside looking in.

(Twitter: 320 million

Facebook: 1 billion)

Four of the Five most followed profiles on Twitter are music related.

Around ninety percent of people have a relationship to music. This metric tells us all we need to know about what the most valuable use case is.

What happened to Soundcloud/Twitter merger?

“Earlier this year (2014) a survey found that @twitter users share @soundcloud links more than any other music service, including @spotify

If Twitter attracts music fans, it’s simple to see that their business should have executives and/or board members who understand the business of music fans, especially if they have real-time transactions and live customer service experience.

For every person who says they don’t use Twitter, there is a musician out there who does not understand why everyone is not using Twitter.

Apple & Nashville

Speculating about the future can be overwhelming, but we also feel it should not be abandoned. Last year the talk was about how streaming needed to scale. This year it has been mostly about data. Though we will save the data for another post, the data gold mine needs two parts to be successful: It requires a partnership between those who know how to use the mining tools, and those who know what gold looks like.Without domain experience the data will find spurious relationships, taking much longer to analyze.  Similar to what streaming shows us, (who is listening to what song, when and where) our business is built on contextual listening experiences. The difference between us and data-journalists, however, is a 15 year head-start interacting with artists and observing the audience in the real transaction.  Our research does not discredit other areas of the music industry, but rather hones our attention on those positioned to lead the new music business. This post will pick up where Live Nation Labs left off and look at two areas poised to lead the future of the music business. (caveat: Tidal may be the first to crack a new business model)

Time after time we have seen first movers get pushed out of the space by a competitor’s impeccable design, simple interface, or better user experience, and we see this happening again in music streaming.  After thinking about the new music space for four years, our feeling is that next year’s two topics of discussion will revolve around the largest music streaming player & the city at the center of the music business. The way it looks, Apple will be the influence to grow streaming. Not because they have vast amounts of credit cards, but because they enter late, capture the audience’s attention, and deliver a quality experience. What makes Apple “Apple” is its focus on quality, and the same can be said for Music CityOn the non-digital (physical) side of the music industry we see Nashville, TN as a birthing ground for new musical talent. Barry Gibb calls Nashville “the center of the music industry” and Richard Florida calls it the Nashville Effect, stating “It’s turned into the Silicon Valley of the music business, combining the best institutions, the best infrastructure, and the best talent. And…for multiple musical genres.”  (note: if you would like to replace the words “nashville” “music city” or “music row” with “silicon valley”, please feel free to do so)

  For decades Nashville has been recognized as the Country Music Capital, but its role to the rest of the world is “Music City”, and the numbers suggest over 10,000 new residents are moving there each year. This historic growth puts Nashville in the top 10 cities for growth, but this spike in population has also put Music City in an awkward place. Music Row and Apple are both confronting the Innovator’s Dilemma, but for Music Row this time is a bit more seriousThe growth comes at a time when Country music sits at the top of the charts but the music industry remains in decline. Due to the technological shift in the recording process and people’s listening habits, Music Row’s real estate on 16th and 17th avenues are worth more today as use for condominiums. The property on these streets have even gained attention from the National Trust of Historic Preservation, and are now deemed a National Treasure. The awkwardness of this is that areas that usually receive this support, do so in an economic downturn. Though the music industry is in a downturn, the city of Nashville is flourishing.  Only a few days ago we counted eleven construction cranes in the downtown area, and this summer the new Ascend Amphitheater will begin hosting concerts in a 6800 capacity riverfront venue paid for by the city.

141022-amphitheater7

Apples on trees grow from the inside —> out & true growth comes from the center.

Apple’s investment in Beats can be chocked up as the cost of doing business in music, but with this purchase they not only secured a streaming service and headphone brand, but a hip-hop artist/producer, a hard rock pioneer, and a former record label executive, who also sits on the board of Live Nation.  Their latest music based acquisitions include a popular BBC disk jockey, BBC producers, as well as a request for music journalists.  Apple, a music/tech company, also manufactures the playback device, capable of offering a download store, a radio service, and an interactive streaming service. While other streaming services continue to invest in engineers, Apple is busy building a full music ecosystem. These approaches signal that some services are concerned overall with technology and others with music. In the history of time music has always outlasted technology.

Though disruption is a hot topic in the music industry we do not feel Music Row will be fully upended.  Let’s revisit what Barry Gibb said about Nashville being the center of the music business. Nashville is the center of the concert and touring industry.  Only the best players tour, and the majority are based near Nashville . The decision to be near other quality musicians puts the pressure on to become better, and during the turn of the millennium Nashville boasted the largest concentration of musicians.

concentration

Four out of five of the most followed people on Twitter are musicians, Twitter is likened to a town hall or forum, and Nashville is known as the Athens of the South.   For over sixty years Music Row has been a major reason some of the best musicians flock to Nashville.  Businesses compete for top talent, and the top talent are based near Nashville. To Nashville’s benefit, and due to the “seismic shift in the economics” an artist’s profit comes from the live show. Over 50% of the total music industry spend is in the live realm and 64% of all nightlife tickets are spent on live music. Sony NY recognizes the need to build out the 360 model to focus on this revenue stream.  and Nashville’s central location means it also has a very close relationship to the bus leasing business.

figure 8

figure eight tour routing

Though there is large demand to be near the best music America has to offer, quality musical talent is not the only piece of this puzzle. “People also seem to like music that is relevant to the times that they live in.” Jim Davies ~ The cost of living in California or New York is not feasible for artistic types like it was back in the sixties. New York City hovers around 33% above average, and has even started a campaign to advise the hipster, folk, indie movement to consider moving to Detroit. Another sign that New York can not support artists is the 35% tax credit for music production. This is needed to balance the high cost of living which still does not suffice. Artists need space to create and space is hard to come by in NYC. Near 6.6% below the average cost of living, and with a lot more space, it’s obvious that Nashville is a good buy for millennials,  Even the music properties in CA and NY are having to scale back to operate effectively. For some of us moving to Nashville is probably a cheaper option than visiting. In 2014 the average price of a hotel room increased by fifteen percent. The largest surge for any U.S. city.  Following Nashville the two cities with the fastest-growing average daily rates in 2014 were San Francisco and Denver.

Considering a company’s capacity for growth at the macro-level, most will come face-to-face with the Innovator’s Dilemma.  Apple has confronted this many times and Music Row is looking dead-on at this decision today.  Either grow something new from the inside out or get disrupted by a competitor.  America can not continue to copy or derive works from others. Nashville has always been about talent, the players, the performers, the singers, the pickers-and-a-grinners.  Apple and Nashville bring together what people really want, quality experiences.  People know the difference between good and bad performances. We’ll pay to see the good ones and watch the bad ones for free. 

The leader of American music today is Country music, and leadership in America has everything to do with creating something new. Some might say Country went Pop, we see the growth as Pop going Country.  The goal for America is to do new things. It’s not about exceptionalism. It’s about leadership and leaders convince us to try new things. Sony/ATV also sees this shift and recently sent a New York A&R rep to Nashville to form a Pop division (non-country). Though some Music Row executives do not want this party to end, this is exactly what has to happen for true change to occur. The changes in music do not wait for anyone, and to not be on board with change can be costly.

For Nashville to be the Silicon Valley of the music business, Music Row has to disrupt itself, and focus on what makes it Music City. Music City must take further steps to innovate. It must begin to try new things, learn to fail fast, iterate the finished product, and make great music for the audience that demands great experiences.In such a flooded global market for live music, people still want to experience the best there is to offer.  What makes Nashville “Music City” is its caliber of musical talent. Today’s job for A&R and Producers is to focus solely on the best talent. From songwriting to performance, or premise to conclusion, the idea is to maximize talent the same effective way as Silicon Valley.

Like RocknRoll and the shift to FM, our country needs a new sound to lead the growth in digital streaming. The question to be asked is “What will it take to bolster this rapid growth and convert the listening audience to streaming?” The answer is a focus on infrastructure and a new supply of quality music.  A new sound that motivates and generates new value. The only way to bolster this growth is with new timeless hits. The next generation of Nashville’s music industry leaders are not afraid to get their hands dirty, and John Sebastian agrees, it’s those Nashville Cats that motivate us to be better. 

Songwriting is rarely top-down but as of late there has been a diminishing number of writers in Nashville. It has all been led by a few “experts” tied in with the labels. For those who understand Nashville politics it seems to fail if it goes the way of ATL/CNN and Austin/SXSW and will win if it sticks to what it’s best at, attracting talent of the highest caliber and with the utmost of principles. The party can’t last forever.

Off & On

 EDM is not defined as one single genre, style, or sound, but rather as a cultural movement. Its value comes by way of live/digital distribution and during the last eight years it’s blossomed into a movement for Millennial’s, but as of late we haven’t moved much.    EDM has been compared to the next RocknRoll movement, but so far it’s achieved only half its mission.  Millennials struggle to find jobs, have lots of college debt, and close to 30% of us still live at home.  Full disclosure, I’m an old Millennial, I turned 35 last month.

The world says we are stagnate, and the human body is an organic property, and to grow we need space, but today the space between rhythms & sounds are maxed, leaving the current EDM scene failing to motivate us further. “what is required is not a lot of words (sounds) but effectual ones.” Seneca

  The Generation X counterculture ravers of the 90’s should know the dangers embedded in Newton’s 3rd law of motion, which states “every action has an equal and opposite reaction”; concerning the most popular dance of “liquid”.   An individualistic style, it requires space to create the arm’s noodle-like effect; I’ve tried but can’t seem to grasp the technique. Millennial’s (me) also need space so we can move out of our parent’s house.  Interestingly enough  “house” music is very popular right now.

(Movement is motion and a lot of people have to be in motion to think clearly.  The “on” or  fouronthefloor  beats that were revived in 2007/2008 were introduced the same time that the Federal Reserve turned “on” their first round of quantitative easing. Coincidence, maybe. Pattern, definitely. )

The 2007/2008 brought a return of EDM (house, disco, the jig, fist pump, foot stomp,i.e. Mumford & Sons, Avicci/Aloe Blacc) Three years later (2011) the market tried to correct itself by awarding Dubstep artist @skrillex three Grammys,  but since this was ironically the 54th Grammy Awards, and ‘Studio 54′ focused on fouronthefloor dance music, the “off” beat was again repressed (we heard of nothing from the originators Rusko/Caspa). Everything that was Dub turned into Trap (to prop up the 20 year old classic genre of Hip-Hop).  In 2012 the “on” beat was (still) mainstream and a second round of stimulus was also turned “on”.   The “on” beat is important in rhythm, because we should always know where the “one” is.  It is also important in life because we should know ourselves before making commitments to others.

The Millennial’s EDM movement has legs & will be around for another 15-20 years, but are the brawls at festivals around the world pointing to fundamental errors regarding the state of the music economy?  (“When a system is too large it becomes more fragile.”  Nassim Taleb) Let’s imagine a festival of many thousands of people, the majority, male, ages 18-35, all crammed in the same space and all moving their arms. (someone is going to get hit) Probably the worst part about dancing with your arms (other than accidentally hitting someone) is that women don’t seem to find it attractive.  They don’t even consider it dancing.

dancing

~The above graphic is not to be rushed. The central part of the body is where growth starts.  People who put the emphasis on the brain first are missing that it is secondary for dancing (movement/growth ability). Plus, your mom was feeding you nutrients through the center (belly-button/umbilical cord) of your body, so, everything we are starts there, pimpin.~

Space is dark, and when we are in the dark (opacity), we should learn to trust our ears and not our eyes.  If men want to resume dancing with women they are going to need space to dance and the more danceable rhythm that allows for space stems from “off” or backbeat music (not the EDM stuff being thrown in our face)  An elliptical orbit consists of two bodies, one small & one large, and improvisational dancing is much better with a partner than going at it alone.  A sound wave has two parts (compression & rarefaction) and a rhythm can be defined as having two beats, one strong & one weak.   This two-part system is fundamental in understanding which rhythm motivates vs. agitates.   

(Technology can be described as doing more with less. Today we all have the ability to jump-start the recording process, but the goal isn’t to make more sound with more tools, but rather create more space with less sound. @joelbeckerman has been quoted as saying “The problem isn’t that there’s not enough sound. The problem is we are actually overrun by sound.” )

As Hip-Hop becomes the classic “off” beat form, a new backbeat rhythm must take its place and consumer choice can be very empowering.  Trap has had some time in mainstream sounds ,and fuzzy dub/synth gets a lot of play in live competitive sports.   A positive sign in the Pandora map shows audiences choosing “off” (chill) rhythms vs. “on”(forced) rhythms.  Today Dubstep is 20% more popular in the U.S. than its origins and a recent survey shows Drum & Bass (DnB) as the #1 genre.

  EDM is a revolutionary movement where we all feel free.  @BobDollNuveen says “I feel like 2015 will be the year where we will move from skepticism to optimism.”  I echo his sentiments.  The best part of EDM is that it promotes togetherness, unity, and an attitude of “we”.   The most popular songs are always sing-a-longs, but we can’t fall asleep during the change, we must be the change.

Just as RocknRoll motivated Baby Boomers to play instruments, Generation X has continued to show us that we can create. The stimulus of the last 7 years is a policy that relies on us (Millennials) to create new value, and today the Fed has turned “off” their bond buying program.  The only way to correct a bubble is to think for yourself.  So it is up to us to do something unexpected, something that leaves us space to think.  If we love freedom & we love one another we will continue to write and sing about it, but for this change to happen the “on” beat has to capitulate to the “off” beat.

Here we take a few moments to thank some of the founders, Rusko and his counterpart Sonny, for continuing their commitment to motivate our culture with “off” beat rhythms.  These backbeat grooves instruct us to swing our hips, not our arms.  (See: loco-motion)

Investors looking for sustainable businesses should expect the change to come from creative roles.

 “Some people need to write or speak, in order to know what they are thinking.” @thomasbeller   ~Thanks to Lucas for requesting I post something in my own words.