Last weekend, at around 6:30am I was listening to our local NPR station. I was a little surprised - I mean, it was so early in the morning - what typical musician would be awake to hear this?. Still it was a treat to hear such a fabulous program being broadcast about the music industry.
The show was "On the Media" and the program's individual segments are downloadable/ streamable/ you name it from their website. This program was packed with so much info, I feel it could be repackaged and sold as a college level self study seminar course. Add a research component to this material, and you could end up with some really forward thinking, issues - aware musicians with a better grasp of the business of making music.
They were talking about file sharing, mash-ups, fair use and copyright and just before I stopped listening (I was meeting some friends for an early morning run - that's why I was awake so early!) they were talking about the concert industry and the future of concert promotion. Fascinating stuff! Some of it was a history lesson, and all of it was just great reporting. Really captivating.
I especially enjoyed the discussion of Fair Use and the insights of Duke professor James Boyle, so I've posted the audio from that segment below:
Twenty years ago a series of lawsuits criminalized the hip-hop sampling of artists like Hank Shocklee and Public Enemy. And yet, two decades later, artists like Girl Talk have found success breaking those same sampling laws. OTM producer Jamie York talks to Girl Talk, Shocklee and Duke Law professor James Boyle about two decades of sampling - on both sides of the law.
The segment Played Out dealt with the live music industry. I was fascinated to learn more about the changes that have made concert promotion the giant behemoth that it is today. And it made me think if new models (unconventional venues) and a new scale (house concerts) will replace all the consolidation and mergers taking place.
The segment Charting the Charts brought back memories of when SoundScan became so accurate that it changed the face of Billboard almost literally over night.
CHRIS MOLANPHY: "The act that SoundScan arguably made was Garth Brooks. The very first week SoundScan came online, his then current album, No Fences, shot into the top 10. It’s widely perceived that the advent of truly accurate counting allowed the industry to perceive just how popular he was for the first time and promote him accordingly."
Sixpence's first manager used to work at a record store and had all these stories about Soundscan and how artists and labels would try to inflate their sales numbers. And then later I remember hearing stories from our road manager about the BDS system that could accurately track airplay and how those numbers were being used to determine and help the promotional strategy (to some extent) for Sixpence. And I think because of this new and more accurate reporting on the part of Soundscan, the music industry was able to finally see that the Christian/ Gospel Music Industry was a bigger "business" than anyone had originally thought.
I'd say if you've got the time - go to the On the Media website and download all these segments to your computer or iPod. To get this kind of perspective of the music industry and it's current issues is a real treat.