Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Scope of Artist-Entrepreneurship (conference proceeding)

Citation: Peltz, Philipp. "The scope of artist-entrepreneurship in the music industry."Instruments of Change: Proceedings of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music Australia-New Zealand 2010 Conference. International Association for the Study of Popular Music, 2011.


Ambitious musical activities outside of the established structures of the music industry are not new. The number of amateur and unsigned musicians has always outweighed that of professional and signed musicians. Today, the distinction on the basis of being signed by a record label or not is blurring. Decreasing entry barriers enable hobbyists and unsigned artists to enter established markets on a large scale.

The present research project utilised two datasets to estimate the total size of artist-entrepreneurship in the music industry. The findings reveal the sheer scope of this phenomenon. According to the figures, there are five times as many artist-entrepreneurs than artists signed by record labels struggling for consumer's attention. On average, every artist-entrepreneur produces and releases the same amount of music as the group of traditional artists through established structures. Thus, the total amount of new music seeking consumer attention increases by a factor of five. Artist-entrepreneurs generated sales of roughly $7 billion US in 2008. From the data one cannot discern if sales are cannibalized from the established industry or an increase of the total market size. Either way, established players have to rethink their business models and adapt to the new situation. How far this, in the words of Andrew Keen, "flood of amateurs” leads to a loss of culture or to a counter-movement to the mass media and the loss of individuality as criticised by Theodore W. Adorno can not be answered yet.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

From music as a recoding to music as an experience

Kevin Kelly writes: “The elusive, intangible connection that flows between appreciative fans and the artist is worth something”.

Or as Joel Zimmerman, better known under his artist name Deadmau5 puts it:

“You need to make a world: […] you have a rollercoaster in your backyard… which is rad. coz everyone loves roller coasters,[…] and all the people from around your block is gunna wanna come and at LEAST check that shit out, or ride it. And itll be the hot thing in the neighborhood for about a week. But once everyone’s had a go… they’ll lose interest, go home n play Sega instead. I see this happen to SO many people… its ridicules.

Well, what you need then, is a fuckin theme park… and you AND your music are the theme. You with me here?  Now, people come into your theme park, and holy fuck, check out all this shit… buncha rides, no 2 the same, some merch here and there, special events, dolphins through hoops and all that whack shit. You want people to come to your theme park and feel like they’re a part of this world of yours”.

Joel points out that an artist needs to offer an exciting and ever changing experience of which the fan can be a part of. He practices what he preaches and offers a wide range of experiences for fans. From using social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram to communicate with fans, to selling merchandizing, organizing remix competitions or providing insights into his studio work via a live webcast.

The song “The Veldt”, for example, resulted from cooperation between the artist and a fan who spontaneously sent a vocal recording to Zimmerman via Twitter during a live broadcast of his studio work. Zimmerman contacted the fan live on air expressing his appreciation for the musical contribution and offered him cooperation. The resulting song became a big success and fans valued Zimmerman’s openness to work together with his followers.

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