Monthly Archives: November 2009

The Visionary vs. the Randomizer

A fine article on over reliance on the super-fan [via lucas] by Jeremy Schlosberg is a good read.

It seems Jeremy attended a Future of Music event in Washington last month where the consensus was that in order to make a living out of music on the web you need 1,000 true fans who are willing to buy your toe-nail clippings. Jeremy’s article rebuts that idea to the point of claiming it hurts music culture more than helps.

Look, my biggest problem with Jeremy is not the ideas in the article (about 80% of which I agree with), it’s that he attended a conference called the “Future of Music” and expected something other than a chilly October weekend in Washington D.C.

With the recent transfer of operations of ccMixter to ArtistTech Media I find myself in the world outside of pundits and conferences and blogospheristry. Not that building and maintaining a non-profit music community is a theoretical exercise, but for 5 years I’ve been gleefully deflecting (and yes, pundicizing) on the business of music. Now, however, I find myself, as a consultant to ATM, in the real world of having to make decisions, of putting stakes in the ground and expecting folks to come into the tent.

I’ve been the balloon-popper, dream crusher, project killer guy. It’s a good and necessary sport but it is, in the end, just talking – some of it based on useful ideas (his warning about echo-chamber sophistry of a tightly knit group of super-fans seems very valuable) and some of it over-reaching bullshitterification (like the concerns about the effect to the creative process.) Taking all of it into consideration, I could never advise ATM to ignore super-fans because the word-of-the-mouth advocacy and multiplier affect seems to outweigh the potential downside.

Here’s just two more cases:

If you get enough of a groundswell for an artist and can prove a degree of emotional connection to a segment of population, you are that much more attractive to game designers looking for music.

I don’t think a digital copy of music is worth money, I don’t care who makes it. But if a rich trust fund dude wants to patronize an artist with $1,000 for the artist’s time then, my god, yes, that’s an important component to a career in music.

Time for work.