Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Scourge of the Music Business -- Who Pays?

There is a lot of scuttle and divisive talk in the news today about music on the cloud and how this could hurt the artists, whether the music business is getting better or in decline – it goes on and on. Simply put – illegal music and those who are out to make a buck by proliferating it for their own pocketbook – are the scourge of the business. In some cases it is a “little guy” who wears the hat, but more often than not – it is a powerful conglomerate, what we politely refer to as the “majors”. You can cut data anyway you want to make your point. And the majors do it well – they have the money and power behind them to shape the dialogue any way they want it to be. I happened upon this interview ( with the President/CEO of The Recording Academy Neil Portnow, which I found very interesting in light of what is being discussed. When your focus is the artist and your hopes and dreams for their success, you get a very different perspective. That’s what I liked about this interview…plus Portnow says lots of thing that jive with my philosophy on the new music business. A few of the highlights:

The fans’ love of music remains strong. Music will never go away – yes, the channels we use to get music might transition over time, but as a whole – people will always want/need access to it. The biggest issue as Portnow sees it – and I definitely agree – is how do we make the industry profitable for the artist AND for entrepreneurs on the business side? Our business’s foundation is based on finding new and lucrative distribution channels that are good for the artist and the distributor. One way we seek to do that is to connect artists with charities – opening up more opportunities to sell music, to connect the music with good and broaden the visibility of the artists and their art. This is a win/win on all sides, particularly because more music is being produced by the indie sector than ever before. This means all of these independent artists need the right channel to get to their fans and charitable causes have more potential to make a difference because of the support by indie musicians.

One last but very important point Portnow makes that needs to be highlighted: don’t kill off the CD business prematurely, he says. And he is absolutely right. It might be a shocker, but it is true -- more than 70% of all music sold is sold as a physical product in a RETAIL STORE. Crazy, right? In the end, the consumer will decide how they want their music. At Altavoz our mission is to provide music in all the ways and in all the places fans demand it. We will keep on putting music in stores – CD and Vinyl – and will make it available through streaming and download, mobile – you name it. As Portnow rightly says, we are entering a period of time where multiple formats will exist side-by-side. It is the company that can leverage all of these formats and channels for good that will succeed.