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).

But there are smart people talking in bold new visionary paradigms, and you’d be foolish to overlook them — particularly from the point of view of discovering what tools and approaches are possible.

One such thinker, who has commented on this blog in the past, and whose site I have stumbled across from time to time in recent history — but the importance of whom I had, until just now, entirely underestimated — is Bruce Warila of Unsprung Artists. I’m embarrassed how long it’s taken for me to recommend him to you.

Bruce has a no-nonsense, optimistic and resourceful approach to the issues of music online… and while he takes on the air of a prophet when he describes the future (a tactic which always makes me nervous), his ideas are creative, bold and sometimes unexpected. Points for that, right?

The death of the mp3? Sure – I’m listening…

He may end up being wrong about some things, but it’s far more important to be interesting than right at this particular moment in history. Yesterday, he introduced his notion of Fat Packages and Cool Streams.

Here’s a taster:

Consumers will purchase buckets of ad-free time, and they will have the option of applying these minutes to playing with your FAT Package without being molested by intrusive ads. You will also have the option of turning features on and off depending on which version (ads or not) of your FAT Package fans are using.

As soon as it’s “stolen” these things will switch to ad-mode. So, it doesn’t matter; theft (sharing) becomes a good thing.


Want to listen to your Cool Stream in the pub between 9:00 PM and 10:00 PM? Using your mobile phone, outbid the other patrons for the right to listen to your stream. Stream bidding is another example of the “user interfaces” that will change how music is consumed.

Yeah, it’s the kind of crystal-ball gazing that usually makes me cross, but it’s really great imaginative stuff — and, most importantly, describes a complex and interesting near future that actually takes into account the complexity of consumer behaviour.

Like science fiction that’s so good that scientists turn around and try their level best to make reality conform to the imagined possibilities, Warila’s stuff is brimming with potential, points some interesting ways forward that are worth giving some serious consideration to… and offers ideas you may not have otherwise had access to.

For me, I’ll stick with trying to describe the present. I’ve long held that projecting a trend forward is a sure-fire method of ending up being wrong. It’s important to try and get a handle on what’s actually going on around us in the contemporary media environment, so that we can act from a position of knowledge.

But as Einstein once said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge” — and Warila has that stuff in spades.

Go read his blog.

Oh, by the way — this is NOT a sponsored post.