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Ideas Music New Music

The Problem With Music

It seems every time I get to talking to friends and family about music, I hear the same complaint. “There’s no good music today” or “it’s too hard to find good music.”

This always baffles me since almost every song you could ever want is a few clicks away. iTunes, Pandora, Spotify, Rhapsody (anyone still use that?), YouTube, Kickstarter, Daytrotter, Bandcamp, Facebook, Twitter – and the list goes on.  Of course, FM radio is still here and there are thousands of stations across the U.S. that curate excellent music.

So what is the real issue?  I think it’s two-fold:

  • The style of music for a certain market segment (40-80 year olds) is no longer being recorded. Think AC/DC, The Band, Ozzy, CCR, etc..
  • There’s too many sources for music so we get trapped in a paradox of choice.

 

Spotify alone has over 20 million songs in their catalog. It is said that there are over 97 million songs recorded in the world. On average, the typical music fan is introduced to 50 songs per year. Let that sink in.

If we look a little closer to that market segment that I mentioned, 40-60 year-olds.  They grew up on rock-and-roll, generally speaking. The most ‘pop’ular form of music being promoted from 1950 – 1995 was some form of rock-and-roll.  This is the genre that several generations of people are connected too.  They have emotional ties to this style.  All the best memories of growing up are connected with songs from this era.

I think what people are complaining about is that they cannot find new songs that move them emotionally like they remembered back when they were much younger. Our young minds were filled with hope, aspirations, discovery and love. The songs presented to us during that period are permanently attached to those feelings. This should explain nostalgia.

So now, here we are later in life with some money to spend and the music that is popular is appealing to.. yep, young people. Go figure.

However, I believe there is hope for gen-x and baby boomers to discover new music. Many of us in this generation are discovering great new music. We just need a more effective way of sharing our discoveries.

But wait, isn’t sharing music illegal? Yes, it is and that is part of the problem.  You cannot buy a CD or MP3 and make copies to give to your friends.  That could cost you $250,000 and up to 5 years in jail. Think about that, you just found an awesome song in iTunes and you make a copy to send to your sister. Felony.

Ok, so beyond all the antiquated laws of copyright infringement, we need a better sharing model. One that allows the “curators” to find the good stuff and easily share it with people. The way it stands today, corporations are curating music for us.  Honda is sharing Michael Bolton with me.  Allstate is sharing Philip Phillips with me.  And it used to be that all the radio advertisers (with a little help from program directors) curated rock-and-roll for us in the 70s and 80s.

I would like people I know (or don’t know for that matter) with good taste to share music with me.

So, what is the problem with music?  Well, it’s certainly not the music’s fault. 97 million songs in the world and people think 96, 999,500 of them are bad? Probably not. We just don’t know what they sound like, yet.

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Music

Thank you CDBaby

About 10 years ago while I was working for MusicNow, Stephen Collins (workmate) told me about CDBaby and their web store services for independent musicians.  Since then, I’ve released three albums through CDBaby and have digital distribution all around the world on just about every major digital music store/subscription service, including iTunes.

I’ve had the privilege to talk to Derek Sivers (founder of CDBaby) a handful of times about a few projects and was just amazed at his generosity and helpfulness.  He went on to sell CDBaby and donate most of the proceeds, but his legacy lives on at CDBaby.

Over the past year, CDBaby has added many services for independent artists and labels, including YouTube and sync licensing. They also have an excellent DIY blog with extremely helpful articles for songwriters/musicians such as myself.

I was struck by the power they are putting in the indie’s hands.  When you consider what is possible with just the YouTube licensing alone, it is quite amazing.  Basically, the way it works is that as an artist with songs registered with CDBaby, you opt-in to various licensing arrangements.  This gives the artist the power to enable millions of people to use their songs as synced music in a video – thereby earning a royalty from YouTube.

Along with streaming royalties from Spotify, Rhapsody and sales through iTunes among others, this could add up to some meaningful royalties. It’s all in the artists hands.

And as of last week, they have launched CDBaby Pro for artists who need to collect performance royalties from worldwide entities.

As an artist who embraces the DIY/indie paradigm, I say ‘thank you’ CDBaby.