March 31, 2009

NINJA 2009 - A lesson in tour promotion

NIN does it again.

Trent Reznor has a great project called NIN|JA 2009 , giving away a 6 track EP from three different bands (Nine Inch Nails, Jane's Addiction and Street Sweeper) to help promote their extensive summer ’09 tour.

Any readers of my blogs know that I’m not just a Nine Inch Nails fan, but a huge supporter of Reznor’s music strategies. Giving your music away in order to raise awareness and generate future revenue, in this case, ticket sales. The idea worked very well for the Ghosts I-IV album last year, where releasing the first volume for free download not only resulted in $1.6m in first week sales (of physical CDs, deluxe boxsets and digital downloads), but also helped contribute to a hugely popular 2008 tour of both South and North America.

Obviously NIN are a globally famous band, but that’s not to say that lesser-known artists can’t use the same idea to help raise awareness. Imagine how impressed any venue booker would be if you could help sell out a show. Not to mention that while you have a captive audience, a well placed and stocked merchandise table will help recoup any ‘losses’ of giving away a free download or two.

Making money because of your music instead of directly from it is a lesson that many artists can learn from.

Lee Jarvis.

Cross-posted at US Music Jobs - The premier online community for US music industry professionals

March 27, 2009

Tough Times....

Is the music industry in serious decline or is it booming? Well... both.

‘Economy’, ‘Credit Crunch’, ‘Recession’. All very real to some people, but at the same time as the job cuts, the music industry is reaching more people who are consuming more music and more artists are making a living from it (some are even selling downloads and merchandise by the truckload). So what IS going on?

Forward thinking music 2.0 businesses that should be expanding are being forced to cut back. Sirius XM laid off 50 staff including some disc jockeys, Pandora had to cut their team from 140 to 120.

These businesses are thriving in one sense, with more members, fans and subscribers every day - Pandora also stated that their listenership is ‘growing rapidly’ - and yet they are still struggling to fund their staffing costs. I think that this is because their ideas and business models are sound, but the market and industry as a whole is just not ready for them. Not just yet. The ones that aren’t adapting are looking even gloomier; Time Warner is expecting to cut 1,250 jobs across the media and entertainment sectors following it’s recently reported fourth quarter loss.....

Read the full article over at the UK Music Jobs Blog.

Lee Jarvis.

March 20, 2009

I will stop buying CDs...

...soon. Millions of consumers are already asking ‘Why would I get up from my computer, go down to a (musically speaking) uncaring Best Buy(US)/ Tesco(UK) store to find they don’t stock the album I want, and I can’t listen to anything else that I want to try, when instead I can search, try and download a great album online within minutes?’. Why indeed, hence the insane uptake to digital downloads and the equally insane decline in CD sales. At the end of the day, for the majority, convenience wins.

I’ve continued to buy CDs instead of individual downloads because I love holding the album in my hand and reading the inlay while I listen to it for the first time, and it pretty much costs about the same.

But I can see the day approaching when I stop buying CDs. My love of music is stronger than ever, but my physical purchases have already decreased and I have also cutback on downloading tracks as the option to stream has become more widely available and more convenient for me. The reason I would stop buying CDs altogether is not that I want my entire music collection based on my mobile device / laptop (although my life is becoming evermore online and technology based), but I will stop buying them when the ‘music like water’ concept really takes off and a wealth of music from major labels and independents is available to me anytime anywhere.

David Kusek and Gerd Leonhard talked about it in 2005. Jim Griffin talked bout it with Warner in 2008. I really hope that someday soon we will see something like this become a reality. I love CDs and the aspect of buying a physical product, and I’m sure I will continue to on special occasions (Michael Jackson boxsets?) or for gifts for other people (nothing says ‘I love you’ like an online subscription receipt, right?), but as someone who consumes music and is often consumed by it, how could I resist...?

I see this type of consumption as being extremely popular with general music fans, as the appeal of being able to listen to all the music they already know and love is a great one, and they can then also experiment a little with new artists without the risk of purchasing a disappointing album and feeling cheated. I see most people struggling with the ‘music like water’ comparison as it sounds a little too futuristic or idealistic, but it would be easy for the average consumer to adapt to this situation if they simply compare it to their internet, cable or mobile phone packages, most of which offer a similar ‘unlimited access’ usage for a set monthly fee.

The big convenience difference between an ‘Ad-supported Streaming Model’ and the ‘Utility Model’ is that you are required to be online to stream music, whereas once you download music via the ‘Utility” service you are free to play it anywhere and on a variety of formats and devices.

There is also a licensing issue that differs the ‘Utility Model’ from physical and digital purchases, and that is that some people will want the freedom to burn a copy to a blank CD and play their favourite music in their car, or give a copy to their friends. This is something that is technically illegal to do from physical products, but with the ‘Utility’ service, the current relative copyright laws would be suspended in exchange for a licensing fee, paid by the ‘Music Utility Bill’. With this in place, recommendations and discovery can flourish, having a huge impact on the way music is uncovered and shared, creating and aiding successful music careers. Something that surely all artists and writers can be excited about is the opportunity to be known and appreciated to a wider audience and being financially compensated via the licensing fees.

For me, this is also one of the biggest reasons why I cannot wait for the ‘music like water’ train of thought to catch on; a digital world where sharing music can be encouraged instead of penalised, and is truly beneficial to both fans and artists alike.

Lee Jarvis.

(photo credit JaulaDeArdilla)

March 12, 2009

The future of remixing?

I have recently discovered the genius of Kutiman and his incredible Thru-You project. He has created brand new songs and videos by remixing various unrelated Youtube music clips. I'm just hoping that the music industry (Youtube, PRS, various labels etc) will share my view that this guy is a huge talent and not a criminal for doing so.

After my recent Creative Commons post (or maybe just before, I can't remember!), Lawrence Lessig appeared on the Colbert Report, and in between the usual top-notch humour managed to instigate a remix frenzy of said interview with various dance beats. Colbert (knowingly) fuelled the fire further by explicitly stating that people did NOT have his permission to do so. After the huge publicity that generated for all parties he (and Comedy Central) also went on to create his own remix.

This was a great example of the kind of fun and creativity that people can generate and share with a bit of open-mindedness. Kutiman takes this to another level with the amount if skill that he has to craft these videos and tracks, and any clued-up label scout should snap him up for some kind of project. As Merlin Mann says over at 43 folders, "somebody will figure out (and publicly admit) that Kutiman, and any number of his peers on the “To-Sue” list, should be passed from Legal down to A&R". This really could be the future of remixing, and is a culture that should be welcomed, and talent nurtured. Copyright is still a major issue for the old-school players, whereas the new wave of talented, forward-thinking artists and companies are embracing a new way of discovering, creating and remixing that is the future of the industry. Artist must learn to make income from several revenue streams - i.e. make money because of their music, not directly from it, and be prepared to use it as a promotion tool (Giving it away and Going Indie).

Out-of-date copyright laws need to be changed, and the shift in power that we are already seeing towards a sharing yet respectful culture should be embraced from all parties. Those resistant to it will be left behind (and lose millions of dollars in the process *cough* major labels *cough*).

I thought i'd share some of the Thru-You project videos here for you to enjoy. Please add your thoughts in the comment section below :)

Lee Jarvis.

Media, Entertainment and Technology Summit 2009, Chicago: Part 1 - Panel sessions

This was the first MET summit, organised by Chicago Booth GSB Students and held at the Harper Center, and I'm sure I'm not the only one who considered it a great success. The summit focused on Media, Entertainment and Technology (there's the 'M', 'E' and 'T' for those of you paying attention), and featured some well chosen panelists and keynote speakers from a variety of backgrounds. I chose to follow the Social Entertainment and Music panels and will touch on them here as I feel they all shared good advice that you can apply to promotion of your music career / artist management / online marketing / record labels and much more. (note: Part 2 next week will go into the keynote speeches)

Session 1.....

Full review at The premier online community for US music industry professionals.

For more info on each of the panelists and keynote speakers, as well as general MET summit details is at, and I strongly suggest that you keep an eye out for next year's event; if it is carried out as passionately and as smoothly as this year's then I see it being a great opportunity for young entrepreneurs to enhance their knowledge and a key event to forge interesting relationships with intelligent forward-thinking media companies in 2010.

Lee Jarvis.