Discover more from MUSIC x
✘ Building new scenes or collectives in music - an antidote to loneliness
And: The Sequence; Report on Water & Music Academy on Global Rights; Music licensing in the metaverse; Epic's future music strategy; AI is sucking the Internet in
With the rise of the creator economy musicians have become full-time content creators. They don’t have to just create the music and record it. They also have to
market and promote their music;
build audiences and maintain those audiences;
get their gigs together and go on tour;
create a fanbase from their audiences;
and, of course, manage and maintain their finances
Even though many of us preach the need for community and, especially in Web3, this community-thinking allows us to question what an artist team can look like, it’s hard work on your own. Even when you have a great community of people around you as an artist, you’re still often the sole driver for engagement. It is rare to see a community move beyond that need for artists to start conversations, let alone discuss creative output. One solution for this, is to not do it alone and instead to do it together.
From DIY to DIT
One of the big promises of the Internet was that it would open up the world to anyone. From production to distribution, it was no longer necessary to have any large scale factories to produce or large networks to distribute. Chris Anderson famously put it as follows: “atoms are the new bits.” As with his ideas around the long tail, this hasn’t aged very well. He wasn’t wrong, but the democratizing nature that he saw involved in this hasn’t worked out. For sure, we can do everything alone and everyone is a micro-entrepreneur to be, but we are fully beholden to centralized platforms. In his original piece, Anderson talks about Alibaba as an amazing place that connects various dots between production and distribution - similar to Amazon. Now, we know, those companies do many things, but democratizing isn’t one of them.
Instead, we’ve seen the everyone-can-do-it-themselves ethos move into a everyone-can-compete-for-less ethos. And while the current blockchain-based iteration of the Internet promises to solve this - again - there’s also another solution, one that actually works really well with the distributed blockchain technologies: do-it-together. The beauty of Web2 is that every major music platform first spawned its own scene. From Myspace to Soundcloud and now to TikTok, we all know what they sound like. This also exists on a much smaller scale with music scenes connected to local areas, like cities or countries. Think about Berlin’s minimal techno, or Chicago’s house music, or South Africa’s Amapiano, or Haitian Vodou. The list goes on. Somehow, this combination of a musical style and place to connect gets lost more and more often in recent years.
Having a home
So we need to go back and understand that creativity doesn’t stand alone. As Tonic founder Ethan Clift once put it:
“Anyone with a $100 mic, a laptop and some music creation software, can produce a high-quality song. It's changing the way we make music. But, one thing hasn't changed. There is still a magic that happens when musicians and producers and songwriters are in the same room together.”
And as Tonic, and others, prove, this ‘room’ can be a digital environment. Inspiration, complementary skills, networking, all this can take place online as well as offline. As with atoms, so with bits, and your home matters. It’s the people that create the vibe, but it’s the place that can either help foster that or disrupt it. So think about your home, and think about what works for your collective, your scene.
It starts with a sound
To conclude, let’s think about a sound. Scene building in music requires a sound so that people will recognize what they hear and connect it to the brand, or the meme, of that scene. From that sound, everything else will flow - musical collaborations, visual art, graphics, stories. Let’s go, and do it together.
Personal note - Wild Awake
Since I’m one of those people who always preaches about community, I’ve felt the need to put some of those preachings into practice. Together with Sound of Fractures, and an amazing set of musicians, we’re doing an experiment in scene building called Wild Awake, using blockchain technologies to underpin our efforts. If you want to follow along, or take part, you’re very welcome!
⛓️ The Sequence (Rafa the Builder)
“The trifecta of Product, Protocol, and Community forms the cornerstone of every organizational map today, as it navigates survival and growth. A complete strategy needs to address all three. Viewed together, the components address internal priorities and a participatory approach to the organization’s ecosystem. However, tradeoffs exist. Each founder must choose a Sequence of development which will influence their valuation, fundraising and growth strategy.”
✘ If you’re into scene building and/or creating digital homes for people and products, the line of thinking presented here is critical. It will help you think about the relationships underpinning the progress you aim to achieve.
🚢 The Music Industry Is a Slowly Sinking Ship Beset By Complexity. Water & Music Guides Web3 to an Alternative (MacEagon Voyce)
“Consider the reality, for example, that there are 100 million songs on streaming services but less than 10 percent of them are in the databases of European collection management organizations (CMOs) – some of the folks charged with enforcing the conditions of licenses and gathering fees for their holders.”
✘ This is an excellent write up of the Water & Music bootcamp on global rights I helped put together recently. MacEagon puts the difficulties and issues into sharp contrast with the solutions offered by the speakers. You can rewatch the full bootcamp or a loose session here.
Metaverse brings new problems and opportunities to music licensing (Victorian Kennedy)
“As the metaverse is likely to be global, determining who monitors and enforces licenses could pose challenges because copyright law, performance rights, music licensing and regulation would be cross-jurisdictional. The global aspect also causes other issues outside of copyright, with questions about how to properly compensate musicians when their work does get used. As a standard for music licensing gets set for this space, royalty structures that differ from traditional music licensing models could be complex.”
✘ Sometimes, I think that everything will be a sync license in the future. Other times, I just think it’s never going to get standardized at all.
🗺️ The Score: Mapping Epic Games’ future music strategy (Mat Ombler)
“The Bandcamp radio integration specifically shows how Epic is betting on games as amore scalable, persistent discovery platform for emerging artists, beyond the expensive, one-off virtual concerts that have historically been limited to mainstream celebrities. Other game developers already regularly deploy this marketing strategy of alignment with emerging artists, such as in Rocket League’s playlists with Monstercat and Riot Games’ collabs with artists like ericdoa.”
✘ Mat takes an interesting lens here going through what the potential is for artists, developers, and gamers alike as we’ll find out what Epic will do with Bandcamp, and music more generally.
🫁 A.I. Is Sucking the Entire Internet In. What If You Could Yank Some Back Out? (Heather Tal Murphy)
“Dryhurst and Herndon, along with several engineer collaborators, created a new company called Spawning to help artists take control of their A.I. identities. Their first project, the HaveIBeenTrained tool, makes it easy to search through the billions of images within LAION-5B, an open-source training set that is used, for example, by Stable Diffusion.”
✘ The work that Mat Dryhurst and Holly Herndon do, is so important when it comes to creating a safe and workable future with AI. I’ve left the two links from the quote in, because I urge you check them out.
This might well be one of my records of the year come the end of 2023. I’ve been playing it almost daily since it’s come out and it just keeps getting better. It goes into many different directions, but it’s all solidly weird while grabbing you with a little poppy melody every now and then. Yves Tumor shifts boundaries all across this record.