Flip / by Simeon Smith


Had an interesting conversation in the pub with Andy of international superstar DJ fandom (he’ll fucking hate that I called him that, and that’s why you should love it). We chatted Apple Music or Beats1 or whatever the new streaming service is called. He was pretty honest about how he’s seen the devaluation of music and I was probably a little too optimistic about how Beats1 might be a way that more people can discover more music. Which is just the difference between a dad of 3 who’s a self-employed musician and a dad of 3 who’s an office worker and makes music in the time he’s supposed to be using for sleep.

I said, rather flippantly, that most musician’s biggest problem with the current music industry / web distribution channels / etc. is not profit erosion. It’s obscurity. Nobody cares about you or your music so not many people download it. And you can distill that to nearly every corner of art. I recently read a thing about artists supported by their partner’s salaries. The stats were fucking depressing man. But I realised on the drive home from the pub that the way I’ve been expressing my ideas (as I have just done) has been flawed and very pessimistic. Let me try it again by flipping it:

The average musician / artist cannot affect the market value of recorded music. We can affect how much people care about our music. 

Tech companies aren’t complaining about how cheap and devalued technology has become. They’re just building brilliant shiny new black mirrors for us all to stare into, and boosting customer base to counter the tiny profits they’re making on each unit. 

And while this has changed the way that I’m now thinking about music marketing, I cannot see a practical way of applying this. Answers on a postcard please.

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