Bringing Back the Independent Artist. The $60,000 Man.

Dboz & I were talking about this concept last night: Creating an open market and currency for music downloads – free of middlemen.  He mentioned BitCoin and possibly Flattr as ways to take payments more directly…I searched and immediately found CoinDL – The so-called “iTunes of the BitCoin World”. This is pretty much the right concept..maybe just lacking visually and marketing-wise…

Backing up a bit…for a bigger picture, you’ve gotta read this article when you have a chance:  A Letter To Emily White at NPR All Songs Considered by The Trichordist‘s David Lowery.  It’s the most clear-headed and convincing argument against illegal music downloading that I’ve seen (take notes, Lars).  It also attempts to explain the reality of the situation, why our consumers have been misinformed by the “Free Culture Monvement”, and how the corporate machine is profiting from our music habit while the artist continues to suffer…It’s apparent now that the Artist Community’s “99%” have more or less been wiped-out:

  • Recorded music revenue is down 64% since 1999.
  • Per capita spending on music is 47% lower than it was in 1973!!
  • The number of professional musicians has fallen 25% since 2000.
  • Of the 75,000 albums released in 2010 only 2,000 sold more than 5,000 copies. Only 1,000 sold more than 10,000 copies. Without going into details, 10,000 albums is about the point where independent artists begin to go into the black on professional album production, marketing and promotion.


So, l started to ponder how WE could be a part of a global revolution – move to supporting independent artists directly.  Here’s my premise:

What would it be like if independent artists possessed the technology and reach of iTunes or Spotify? What If they had total control over the profits earned from people buying and listening to their music with no middle man whatsoever?  Could a platform be built and maintained by a non-profit tech company?

This could be part of the overall revolution in the mindset of music fans too…It would come from the grass roots, NOT from passing new laws or copy-protection…and it would feel much like the local/sustainable/unprocessed food revolution.  People realizing that they can do better, vote with their dollars…Local music and art is the purest form of creativity.  made by people you know and live with…Somehow on the internet though, music has been completely devalued…quality is certainly recognized to some extent in Austin, but the dots need to be connected from recorded music to downloads and social media.

Spotify definitely is NOT the answer – We’re already seeing the shift from illegal downloading to Spotify or iTunes as a means to “clear the conscience” for music fans…the problem is that these mega-corporations are the only ones making any money – the artists still get the shaft…One specific beef- the article blames the Free Culture movement for devaluing the music—but i’d say It’s time for a free and open technology that can work for the creators…make it free from corporate or gov’t control…free from greedy middlemen, fat cat record companies, and even shady digital-distributors.

Something worth working on, i’d say…hoping to start a dialogue from here.  Holler.

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