Discover more from MUSIC x
✘ What are you excited about? What work needs to be done to make that reality?
And: UK Music report on music tourism; Music streaming platform models; Fast Car and Country music's whiteness problem; Thinking beyond the ticket; The cult of cute content
A personal note from me this time. Next week, I’m on holiday and we’ll have another take-over of this newsletter by the insightful Tristra Newyear Yeager about how AI will eat itself. It’s also a time to do a kind of mid-year assessment of where you’re at. Personally, I’m thinking about the various projects I have on and where I want them to go. Similarly, my personal development is on my mind. Maybe you’re the same? If you are, I invite you to think about the things that excite you. Think about the things that give you energy and which add to your sense of fulfilment. Then, think about focus.
The hardest thing, for me anyway, is to decide what to actually work on. Paul Graham has great advice on how to make that decision.
“When in doubt, optimize for interestingness. Fields change as you learn more about them. What mathematicians do, for example, is very different from what you do in high school math classes. So you need to give different types of work a chance to show you what they're like. But a field should become increasingly interesting as you learn more about it. If it doesn't, it's probably not for you.”
I can recommend the full piece if this is the sort of thinking that triggers you.
What about music, you ask? For me, right now in music screams out for people who will do something interesting. Often, we would turn to emerging technologies for this. But crypto, or Web3, is pretty stale - even if there’s a massive opportunity to expand the modes of revenue generation beyond the existing methods. Likewise, AI already seems to head down into the trough of disillusionment to speak in those hype cycle terms. I guess it’s because so much seemed free and the work behind the ease-of-use tools was expertly hidden.
What’s next then? Human-focused experiments excite me. Projects that bring people together in a meaningful way for the participants. Even better if these projects create new revenue flows that derive from interactions previously either unmonetized by the parties involved or simply newly monetizable. There’s a 2022 article by Dan Fowler where he posited the following about crypto:
“Crypto is analogous to a new patch being released for the music industry, bringing with it fresh content and a realignment of mechanics. With this comes a race to find the new meta, a collaborative effort across interested parties to experiment with what works and what doesn’t. And so, the notion of competition changes slightly, in that there is still a contest to see who can discover it first and gain the reputation that this will bring. But when it is discovered, it will benefit the wider community as everyone shifts to this new model of operation.”
Which is another way of thinking about when to dig a moat as Packy McCormack did this week:
“Success accelerates the need for moats. As soon as success seems obvious, startups lose their training wheels moat – uncertainty – and should have at least the foundations of more permanent moats in place.”
The music industry looks to new technologies to create that sense of uncertainty and more and more it can be artist-driven experiments that will release the value of any new model of operation.
If you’re taking a break during the next weeks, I invite you to think about this as well. We can come back with ideas refreshed and the energy to make them reality. Dream big, then work hard to make it reality.
ℹ️ Here, there, and everywhere 2023 (Hannah McLennan)
“The numbers in this report provide a valuable insight into the visitor numbers and economic contributions - in terms of spending and jobs supported - associated with music tourism in each place for 2022.”
✘ A big report here from UK Music on music tourism. There’s a lot of information, and while it’s UK specific, it definitely translates across the world. There’s also a toolkit for local governments to help them build their own regional music powerhouses.
💎 Starter Pack: Music streaming platform models (Chrissy Greco, Raul Guerrero, Brodie Conley)
“Streaming is a zero-sum game for listeners' attention, and payment models attempt to balance competing values within this ecosystem by allocating revenue across multiple stakeholders. Each payment model has tradeoffs; there is no perfect system.”
✘ This is a must-read. In-depth research combined with an easy-to-grasp approach in conveying the information. Make everyone you know read this and we’ll grow our institutional knowledge in a very healthy way.
“These mixed feelings were echoed on social media last month when Combs’s “Fast Car” made headlines after it jumped to No. 4 on the all-genre Billboard Hot 100, surpassing Chapman’s own peak of No. 6 in August 1988. Even taking into account the differences in chart metrics over time, some people had the typical visceral reaction that occurs when anyone covers an iconic song: It will never be as great as the original. But whether they liked the cover or not, others hoped this situation would lead to more awareness about the larger issues in country music and Black art in general.”
✘ I’m not really into Country music so my last encounter with the way they deal with black artists and their music was Lil Nas X. The above article gives a measured response to the situation around Fast Car, but it’s quite sad to see how little has changed around that genre of music and its openness to non-white artists.
🎫 Why We Need to Think Beyond the Ticket (Cam Diamond)
“Rather than fueling an iterative cycle of marginally improved ticketing platforms, I urge you to take a step back and consider the broader picture. Examine the concept of value that goes beyond the transactional and permeates the experiential. Ponder over the extraordinary potential that lies in redefining the fan journey, in creating a narrative that doesn't end with the acquisition of a ticket but carries on to become a shared experience resonating with artists, fans, and the venue.”
✘ This resonates with what I wrote above. Let’s think about music as these sonic experiences that resonate for as a long as people stay connected to them. There’s so many steps and moments within the life cycle of a song and an artist that can be reimagined and revalued.
😸 The cult of cute content (The Digital Fairy)
“The language of cuteness acts as a detox from the ills of today’s digital culture — especially amidst rising anxieties around A.I, but it goes beyond the tech optimism of other internet-y aesthetics currently being nostalgically revisited, like the pop-naturalism of Frutiger Aero. Cute content not only taps into our primal preferences, its popularity is boosted by the fact that it can take nearly any form — from a viral cake trend that has thousands trying their hand at heart-shaped cakes with “vintage” frilly frosting and pearls, to custom emojis and nostalgic childhood characters like Sylvanian families acting out unhinged plots.”
✘ I love this. Cuteness as a response to the boring filter of the Internet in recent years. I recently wrote about how we’re all retreating into dark forests, but it’s not dark there, it’s all cuteness.
Let’s dance together with Mafro ft Ell Murphy remixed by the exquisite TSHA. The track is called Bloom and it elicits all kind of feelings around the metaphor of bloom. Most importantly, you just can’t sit still listening to this.