Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Music Old Skool takes on the future

I took part in a really interesting Round Table about the future of the music industry yesterday, hosted by Sellaband and run by Tony Platt, the famed producer who’s worked with people like Bob Marley and AC/DC. It also featured names like David Arden who whilst being Sharon Osbourne’s brother is also a Music Manager working with the likes of James Brown and the stupidly good looking Mark Maclaine from Sellaband success story Second Person.

Without being too rude about age, that was a few centuries worth of music experience - and whilst the guys occasionally lapsed into how good it was in 'the old days' they really do know the business and the talent side inside out and can see how to chart the way forward in this new paradigm. I do feel sorry for the legacy businesses - but equally they need to embrace the new world order, rather than trying to stop it.

Now I’ve discussed Sellaband before, and I’ve now had the honour of meeting both of the founders, Johan and Pim. To summarise it’s a way of bands and artists with demo’s to get a following and more importantly gain investment from members to record a professional album and hopefully ‘break out’. I guess it’s a cross between a social networking site and a boutique record label. I like the concept; whilst I don’t see the site being the new Facebook (and I doubt they do to) and I do see it being like the Hacienda, The Cavern Club or Rough Trade – a source of great music, and new talent incubator.

I guess what I really like about is that it completely understands as is riding the dynamic wave of change sweeping pretty rapidly through the music industry as it changes from an industry where choice was controlled by A&R and money was made by selling records, to being increasingly a music entertainment business where the ‘business’ is being more of a ‘thin client’ middle man between artist and consumer helping with professionalising, marketing and mentoring talent.

Big commercial artists and slick marketing won’t go away, but the mix will change and the business dynamics delivering those will change too.

For artists, the great thing about the web is it allows them to learn and develop away from overt commercial pressures that insist on quick fire hits. It allows niche artists to find audiences that like you across the globe, and also enough interest from around the world to give you an income that allows you to devote yourself to your music.

Now those who get involved with Sellaband get very, very evangelical about it –but do you know what, I think they have the right to. Nice concept, and the fact that they’ve already had a number of ‘break outs’ in mainland Europe is a very positive sign. I’m guessing the Round Table is part of their push into the UK market, and I wish them good luck.

Oh, and do check out the 'post-trip-hop' Second Person

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