About ten years ago I went into my fifteen year old’s room and laid on the bed to talk to him while he was online. He told me was he had learned of this “new” music service where you can acquire music for free. It was called Grokster. After watching him for a few minutes I concluded that this was wrong behavior. I explained to him that this activity bothered me for two reasons: 1) It was stealing. He was not purchasing but “acquiring” music for free. and 2) I had music clients who made their living from selling the music they wrote and performed. I told him that he had to cancel his account and not use it. In its place, I made him and his following brothers and sister a deal. If they promised not to download free tunes, I would pay for all of their music purchased through a service. Fortunately, they did not go hog-wild and buy thousands of songs. Instead, they usually purchased the latest acts, classic rock , and jazz. Since I shared the music account with them, I was able to learn a lot about the latest acts and play jazz. The practice still lives today with child (daughter) number four, but I really don’t care to listen to Justin Bieber. Still, honesty prevailed and they learned that conventional wisdom is not always wisdom at all.
However, according to Paul Resnikoff’s article, Technology didn’t kill the Music Industry. The fans did… , we were in the minority. Mr. Resnikoff’s article focused on educating the public as to the value of music and the unethical and illegal practice of stealing it.
Though I don’t disagree with Mr. Resnikoff about educating the public, I believe it is the wrong strategy to help the musician. People will always rationalize the theft of music, unless they get caught and pay penalties. That is an enforcement issue that is outside the scope of this article.
Instead of bailing water out a sinking boat with a tea spoon, the budding musician should learn how to strategically plan their career. The new musician cannot make music the old tried and true ways. Those days are over.
For example: Cirque du Solei changed the circus industry. Their strategy resembled the Blue Ocean Strategy. They focused on what attributes their circus customers wanted, (e.g., clowns, acrobats, and music) and discarded attributes that customers did not want (e.g., animals, big name lion tamers, and 3-rings). The result: a new type of entertainment that stole market share from plays, sporting events, and amusement parks.
The musician must reinvent the appetite for music. For example, who would have guessed 40 years ago that The WHO and other bands would sync license their music for substantial money on television shows and commercials? I don’t recall many doing that in the 1960s.
To be a “successful” artist or business person in capitalism, strategic planning must be done on both an individual level and industry level. Right now there is no strategy in the music industry to save the musician, and likewise, there are hardly no strategies on the individual level to save the music industry. Both are needed and must be interrelated.