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Lessons from Digital Disruption in the Music Business

Last week’s On The Media (mp3 download here) devoted the full program to challenges and changes during the past decade or so in the music business — from the unanswered legal questions about sampling (check out Girl Talk for the genre taken to the extreme) to the shifting economics of concert tickets and promotion to the changing role of industry rankings like Billboard’s Hot 100. (Fun fact I picked up while listening: more than 8.5 billion songs have been sold via iTunes.)

My favorite segment was near the end, about the changing nature of the relationship between artists and fans, a segment called “Why I’m not Afraid to Take Your Money” which featured a great interview with Amanda Palmer of the Dresden Dolls:

Everyone has to stop thinking there is an answer. The answer is, there’s an infinite number of answers.

People don’t love music any less. There might be a lot less money out there in the industry, but maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe the fact that the live industry is tanking to a certain degree means that ticket prices are now going to be reasonable. As far as the music is concerned, maybe it ups the ante. If you’re a teenager with a dream of being a rock star, maybe you’ll really think about why. Were you doing this to be rich and famous or are you doing this because you really love music and you want to connect with people, and you’ll do it even if it just means you make a living wage? If that’s true, I’m – you know, I’m a fan of the new system.

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