Michael Arrington is NOT an idiot

money for music

You may have encountered talk online about Billy Bragg complaining that musicians aren’t getting money from the $850m Bebo payday. If so, the talk you’ve most likely encountered is that of TechCrunch‘s Michael Arrington, who pretty much denounces Bragg and barely stops short of calling him a greedy and deluded fool for wanting artists to earn money for the inclusion of their work on social networks.

It’s quite easy, from the perspective of a musician or the music industries to dismiss Arrington as an idiot on this basis. Not only is he morally and ethically in the wrong for supporting the idea of Bebo making millions without compensating the artists whose work drove so much traffic to the site in the first place, he’s actually opposed to artists making money from their recordings at all.

On the other hand, Bragg is going around saying things like ‘social networks are stealing from artists in the same way that music fans are‘. Which, if you’ve ever encountered this blog before (or, actually, if you’ve ever encountered common sense about music online before), you’ll know I consider to be an outrageously ignorant thing to assert.


Music Think Tank

Music Think Tank

I’m really delighted to be able to announce the launch of a new group blog I’ve set up. It’s called Music Think Tank and it brings together some of my favourite thinkers in the area of online music.

This is something I’ve been working on behind the scenes for a while, and I’m so absolutely thrilled to be able to collect these experts in their field and get them into a conversation about this stuff.

Of course, not all of us will agree with each other, and I think that’s part of the fun of the site – but we’ll post our thoughts and observations — and, perhaps more helpfully, discuss each other’s blog posts in a way that gets these ideas bouncing around.

CD Baby‘s Derek Sivers kicks off with a nice piece about the problem with gunning for a big label deal.


I like Bruce Warila

There are some people on the internet inventing clever new music business models. Let me introduce one of them.

I’ve made it reasonably clear to you (I hope) that I distrust new music business models for the music business. Not that I think there’s no future for the music business (I’m a real optimist in that regard), just that the search for the one-size-fits-all template is misguided.

The hunt for ‘models’ tends to get in the way of people sitting down, sizing up their own strengths as a music enterprise, evaluating their specific audience, asking pointed questions about what it is people like to do with their music, taking an inventory of the tools they have at their disposal, and coming up with a customised plan for their own business.

It’s an incredibly mundane, entirely practical and straightforward exercise that just describes the world as it is, and then develops a plan for dealing with it. And yet, it excites people so much when they actually do it. The scales fall from their eyes (usually metaphorically) and they begin to see real, attainable potential for their own independent music businesses. I’ve seen people nearly cry when I’ve done it as part of a consultancy with them — and yet it’s simply a description of current reality as it applies to them.

This is what the big piece of paper is for (I’m coming to it – I promise).


Knowledge is Power

It’s great that you read this blog. But sometimes you need something with a bit of meat to it. Something with a couple of hundred pages, and that you can read in the bath.

NMS Bookshop

There are dozens of books out there that can help you make your way in the modern music business. I’ve identified close to a hundred of the best ones, and I’ve put them all together in a New Music Strategies Bookstore.

If you’ve visited the store in the past, you won’t recognise it now. I’ve just stocked the shelves full of all of the best books that can be bought on the topic of running an independent music business, and surviving in the online environment as a musician.

It’s powered by Amazon, so you can feel secure in your purchases, and each book has been hand-selected by me. I’m on my way to a Top 100 Most Helpful Books About The Contemporary Music Business — and I’m selecting the last few now.


Net, Blogs and Rock & Roll

Long overdue… but better late than never. Looking to fill your brain with helpful stuff about music online? Go read this man’s book.

David Jennings
David Jennings, rightly happy with his efforts

I met David Jennings at the Music Tank event on Monday night. It was the first time we’d been in the same room together, to my knowledge, but it gave me a bit of a guilty start.

He sent me his book a couple of months back (a few even?) and although I read it, enjoyed it and found it genuinely worthwhile, I am still yet to write anything about it by way of recommendation.

So… let’s fix that. The book’s called Net, Blogs and Rock & Roll — and it looks at the online music world from the perspective of the net-savvy consumer.


Living Jazz Podcast

One of the highlights of my New York trip was to meet and spend time with legendary jazz pianist DD Jackson. You can eavesdrop.

While in New York, I was interviewed by jazz pianist / composer D.D. Jackson (pictured right) for his Living Jazz podcast. I was losing my voice at the time — and man, I talk fast (!) — but there might be something of interest in there for you.

We talked about everything from Creative Commons and music copyright, Radiohead and Prince, Gerd Leonard’s “Music Like Water” idea, D.D.’s own Artistshare website — through to strategies for selling digital vs. physical content, plus building fan relationships and more.

Listen or subscribe to the podcast here.