The biggest crisis facing the music business isn’t pricing, of either music or concerts, but the lack of a filter telling people what to listen to.
You may decry "American Idol", but at least it assembles a mass of eyeballs to pay attention to new performers. Yes, the music is well-known, but the performers are not. How can we get people to pay attention to new music?
Not via record reviews. That paradigm is shot. There are no trusted reviewers. And there’s so much product. Hyped to high heaven because the purveyors want to get rich. And it costs so much to listen to it.
Yes, in time. Time is very expensive. Who wants to spend it looking for a needle in a haystack? And how much new music can one listen to anyway?
Actually, the original concept of Top Forty was not beat-infused, genre-specific mindless tripe. It was akin to what Gene Simmons says Kiss delivers, but we laugh about. What does the painted band begin its shows by saying…"You wanted the best, you got the best?" Or maybe it’s "deserve the best"… The point isn’t to laud Kiss, which needs no benefits, its hard core keeping the band alive, but to point out that if there was a radio station, Website or TV show that truly played/delineated/showcased the best music, people would be attracted to it and new music would flourish. Hell, that’s what happened with Top Forty twice…in the sixties and early eighties.
But this would require leaving most music out. And refusing to play games with those with deep pockets, i.e. labels or rich individuals like Sam Adams. The same great cuts would have to be banged again and again. And if there was no good new music, then the old would have to be continued to be featured.
Don’t tell me radio is dead. Don’t tell me everyone’s got their favorite Website. Don’t tell me it’s solely about word of mouth. I AGREE, I’m just pointing out an opportunity, for an entrepreneur who truly cares about music and wants to make a fortune.
It’s not about the iPhone app. It’s not about the ads on the Website. It’s not about technology at all. That’s what’s been wrong with the past decade, it’s been about science and marketing, not music. Everybody wants to get rich. From the wannabe acts to Tim Westergren and Pandora to the endless purveyors of music distribution platforms. No one’s focusing on the music! And that’s why we’re hurting.
Sure, there’s good music out there. But how do you get people to pay attention? Certainly not by allowing makers to spam, with endless unsolicited notices, and even MP3s, clogging up your inbox. It’s about culling the best. And letting people know about it.
And it’s got to be very good. Because few have the time.
But so many have the desire.
Ask people where they find out about new music. Baby boomers will be dumbfounded, college students will talk about friends and a small universe of acts and the prepubescent will rave about the hits on today’s radio and in gossip columns, but what happens when they reach adolescence and want something meatier?
This is a huge crisis. And it’s not unsolvable. But it does require a lot of thinking. And a lot of listening. The solution is less about building infrastructure than analysis. We all want great music, who’s gonna serve it to us?