D is for Distribution

It’s no secret that the internet has turned more than a few business models upside down. And it has spawned many new revenue channels even as it challenges the continued health of others — think of the struggle that music stores are having competing with music downloads.

But, if you take some time to understand the real impact of the internet on life, recreation, and business — and I consider myself a mere student in this area — there are some new opportunities that musicians, artists, and other creative types might find, well, liberating.

The entertainment industry — where an abundance of talent is whittled down to artificial scarcity in hopes of controlling the pricing and distribution of creative products — is another one of those business models that has been turned on its head. The good news is that young artists don’t have to wait to get a major record deal to begin sharing their music with an appreciative audience. But the good news doesn’t stop there. Not only does the artist control the distribution — either through a website or an intermediate agent that might provide a distribution widget or pre-arranged iTunes / Amazon connection (for a couple of good examples of this, see createspace.com and songcastmusic.com) — but the artist also controls the artistic expression, the music and the sound design that is so central to the creative process. Oh yeah, and the rights — perhaps a more relevant topic for artists than ever before.

It doesn’t stop there, the distribution is global, not just local. And back catalog or archived music can be offered alongside the new stuff. Removing the requirement of physical distribution brings all these advantages and more.

So, is there a down side to internet distribution of original musical recordings? Uh, not really. There’s more noise to fight through, I guess, but the internet also provides search strategies that raise, not reduce, the likelihood of providers and consumers making a connection. Oh, and smaller advance checks from the Labels, but who was getting those anyway? And let’s be clear — the ease of digital distribution is matched by the ease of unauthorized copying. That’s not new but in this new era of digital distribution, the artists themselves can really feel the pinch, and they won’t have the protection of a major publisher who might step in.

But this is just one outsider’s view of the new music business. I’m going to ask my blog buddy, Andy, to join this conversation and I hope that, together, we might bring some perspective to this new era of abundance in the music business.

As always, I’d love to hear some other voices join in.

3 Responses to “D is for Distribution”

  1. Dear Hopelessly Pop,
    Love your blog. I think you’d be pleasantly surprised if you heard some of our music. If you want to hear more about the Jim Basnight Band, Moberlys, Rockinghams, etc. please let me know and I’ll send promos. The band’s live show is really top notch right now and I’m hoping that you get a chance to see us live or on video. If you have any questions or need any more materials please get back to me.

    Best wishes,

  2. I couldn’t agree with you more. After years of working on the road, and
    trying to get a record deal. I gave up and sold everything and built a small
    studio in my garage. Then I started recording music that I wanted to do,
    and not what a record company might be able to sell. I made CD’s to give
    to friends and people who might be interested.
    One of my friends has a small indie label and wanted to put out some of
    my stuff. I didn’t think much about it, so I told him to go ahead, telling
    that I wasn’t going to stack ’em in my garage because I really don’t have
    the room.
    Anyway to make a short story long, he put it out and through good
    reviews on Not Lame, Kool Kat, Power Popahollic, etc. they started selling.
    The CD is called Same Old Story and it’s not only selling in the US, but
    Spain, France, and the UK.
    Without all the buzz on the internet they would be stacking up in some-
    one’s garage. I think everyone’s gonna have to figure out a different way
    to do business. Not only in the music business. but in all areas of work.
    Thanks for letting me take up so much space on your page. Also, that’s
    a great Beatles pix.

  3. Greatt blog, would love to see what you think of the music scene these days, epecially when it comes to independent musicians

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