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  • Writer's pictureEric Doades

The Future of Direct to Fan and Artist-Fan Interaction with Rob Abelow

What happens when artists stop chasing vanity metrics and start focusing on cultivating genuine, deep relationships with their fans? Listen this week as Tristra and music industry thinker Rob Abelow chat about this shift in the music landscape - where redefining success is a metric of fan intensity rather than just streaming numbers. Rob shares his insights into creating meaningful connections, and highlights why true fans are vital for an artist's long-term success.

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Episode Transcript

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0:00:12 - Tristra

Hey everybody, welcome to Music Tectonics, the podcast that goes beneath the surface of music and tech. I'm your hostess for this episode, Tristra Newyear-Jager, Chief Strategy Officer at Rock Paper Scissors, the PR firm that specializes in music, innovation and technology. Today I'm talking with music industry thinker Rob Abelow, whose insights and hot takes at where's music going, tell it like it is. When it comes to the business and the art of music. He's been thinking and writing a lot about the future of the industry and its business models, considering how music streaming and artist businesses are changing right now and now we're going to dive with Rob into some thoughts about what the future holds for artists, for services like Spotify, and for labels and all sorts of other cool stuff. So, Rob, thanks so much for joining us.

0:01:07 - Rob

Thanks so much for having me here.

0:01:09 - Tristra

So I want to kick things off by jumping into a piece that you wrote not long ago about music's next decade. You declare that this next decade is about cultivating fans. Hurrah, I mean. Everybody loves fans. I'm a fan of fans. Can you help us get deeper into what exactly that means? What exactly does it mean to cultivate fans?

0:01:30 - Rob

Yeah, it's so interesting too, because I wrote that piece a little over a year ago, like March of last year, and how much the conversation has changed since that time. In the music industry, where you can't have a conversation where you're not talking about fans or super fandom, um, and I think the concept there is, the last decade or so, which I tend to call like the streaming decade, has really been focused on this passive, casual, lean back experience at least on the recorded music side, um, you know, one offering for everybody, one price, and there was a lot of benefit for the industry.

There was just so much growth and scale to be had that there was not really a reason to like think about segmentation or fandom. There was just so much advantage there and I think a lot of incentives kind of came out in how you create or how you try to sign or build things. I think, as we're seeing, you know that growth slow and, uh, the reliability of certain marketing levers we can pull for artists and the algorithm becoming more of the gatekeeper on all sides, it just makes so much more sense to kind of a return to fandom and how important that's always been and to think about how we cultivate that. So for streaming platforms, that's different pricing and offers and segmentation. For labels it's figuring out how they actually get their hands on that.

And for artists it's like how do you create real sticky relationships and sustainable businesses? And when I think about how we cultivate it, it's how can we create real sticky relationships and sustainable businesses? And when I think about like how we cultivate it, as you know, how can we create meaningful relationships between artists and fans? How can we like elevate the experience for music's biggest fans that look something different than just kind of like the same experience for everybody? And a lot of this is like how can we focus on artists and not just songs? Or, like my air quotes your content.

0:03:34 - Tristra

I love that we're getting into a post content era.

Yeah, we all hate it, but I love what you're. I love what you're saying about relationships and you know it's. It's interesting too because if you think about you mentioned sort of past thinking about fan relationships and the like if you think about 30 years ago, the way people related to fans or celebrities or whatever we want to call public figures that captured people's imaginations, versus the way people relate to them now, there's some similarities, but there's also some really interesting differences, right Like there's. The things have changed and I think we've got a whole lot to learn about how people really connect now that we have this whole digital infrastructure that people are, you know, interacting with. So one way you're thinking about proposing, one thing you've proposed in some of your writing about how to measure fan commitment and fan passion is intensity versus the vanity metrics of things like social media, and I think a lot of artists think about this a lot, because it's like do I try to get more folks who follow me Instagram or do I try to find something else?

Do I find people some other way? Because, you know, we've discovered that the likes and follows don't translate well into action in real life, right Like I think you've brought up in some of your pieces. People can have a big, big social media following and yet they can't sell a ticket to a show. So if we're looking at intensity, how do we define that intensity and what are some good indicators Like what should we be looking at if we're looking for intensity from fans?

0:05:14 - Rob

Great question. Yeah, that last point, I mean. I think we're seeing it now with these big artists who are canceling their tours, and it's like monthly listeners aren't your fans something I say right. And it's like these metrics obviously matter, they're important, they're indicators for things and they can be your top of funnel, but they're not your end goal. And I think that is the most important thing, because we tend to build or create for what we're measuring and it's so easy for us to always look at those vanity metrics monthly listeners, streams, followers and likes because they're just in our face everywhere we go. They're really easy to compare For the industry. It's easy for us to build them in the products and APIs and analytics and algorithms that are trying to find, find things. But if you're really looking at like your business, you have to think about what are the things that are like the biggest indicators for? Am I creating strong relationships and like going to create something that's sustainable for me? And it's tough because that can be different for each artist.

It's somewhat bespoke, but the way the framework I tend to use is low intent and high intent actions, low intent and high intent fans. So most of the ways that people interact with music right now are low intent, so it's in the background, maybe chosen for them on a playlist. They may not even actually know who the artist is or what the song is, and those things are great, they have their purpose. But you really want to focus on the higher and the middle and higher end of the spectrum of intent. So that's buying, joining, interacting, participation. So that could be a lean in listen. It could be joining your newsletter, joining your community, participating in that community, social listening. Obviously buying things like your record or going to tour and then kind of upgrading from there into membership or VIP.

I do like the focus that not all of those things have to be monetary. You know people who are like especially now as we're seeing with artists like Fred again and Kenny Beats, who've created like this incredible participation with their fans and community. It's like that level of intensity is such a large indicator of like those artists are gonna, they're gonna blow up and they're gonna be here in 10, 10, 20 years more than anything. And I think for artists it's really figuring out what are the most important things for you, like how do you reliably measure them? And like look at them every single day, right. So it's like this is actually how I measure success, and something like monthly listeners or likes or streams are really just pathways for me to get to that point.

0:08:06 - Tristra

I mean, you're almost proposing what I would call, from my snooty academic standpoint, an ethnographic approach. Right, and ethnography is decade. We're trying to find more qualitative ways to identify fans or find activities that are meaningful to people who love music, or love the kind of music that we are creating or putting out into the world, and then finding ways to act on those insights right, exactly. So what are you thinking about? How do you think in the next 10 years or so, people are going to be trying to boost this intensity for fans?

I mean, there's there's a lot of very, dare I say, extractive talk about super fans Like how can we get more money from fans is what a lot of people are asking, but how can we get more joy from fans? How can we get more excitement from fans, from fans? How can we get more excitement from fans? Those are also really, really relevant for both long-term business and, just like the health of an artist and the health of a of a music community. What do you think, how are you thinking, how do you imagine in the future, in the near future, we're going to be boosting this intensity?

0:09:23 - Rob

yeah, the extracting thing is really interesting because fandom and super fandom is is is actually pretty well monetized in the music industry. It's just mostly outside of recorded, which is why, like, as streaming and recording music is looking like you know, the growth is slowing. You know that's where all the talk comes from. But, like, live in places like that is where so much of fandom is monetized and it's crushing, you know. So, um, and a lot of the things we're seeing in new offerings or things that are suggested are actually happening, are very much extractive and really missing the point of. If you can better serve and give value and reward and incentivize that type of behavior, it's going to give you so much more sustainability to your career. And also now because, like I mentioned before, it's so hard for artists and teams to kind of break through the noise. There's just no reliable way to do anything except if you have a strong relationship with your fans and an actual connection to them that you're relying on others. It's like there's so much more value in it, uh there than anywhere else. I mean, I think it's it's, you know, there's kind of multiple levels. You know we need new infrastructure, tools and behaviors that like incentivize that type of thing right. So it's like you know, I think a lot of streaming has built this incredible experience for finding the right song at the right time for the right person in this hyper personalized space, and that's awesome. But it actually solves like one part of what music is. There's a whole other part of what music is. It's connective you, it's connective to me and the artist, it's connective to the other people listening to it. It's nostalgic and I think we're going to hopefully see maybe things layered on top of streaming.

We have a company called Rhythm that had been shut down at a Discord a few years ago. That was social listening. That just relaunched yesterday Stationhead, which is a company I advise on that you work with. That is incredible for listening parties and social listening. I think more places like that, that are places for lean in but aren't totally like just artist silos, are really, really important and I think there's going to be more of those. I also think, with like AI and creativity, there's going to be more places where there's like a feedback or a back and forth between creator and consumer. There's going to be more places where there's like a feedback or a back and forth between creator and consumer. That's going to be helpful. But then on the artist side, I think it's you mentioned how different it is from decades ago to now. It's like and I mentioned Fred again and Kenny Beats is exactly.

0:12:05 - Tristra

No, it's okay, we can talk about Fred again, it's okay. You know, it's like how participatory can?

0:12:10 - Rob

you be creating spaces, have high intent actions with people right, and how can you find the people who are creating the most value in your community participating with, like your music, et cetera and how can you reward them and then show everybody else like I'm not. I'm a member of my own community and it's valuable to spend your time and energy here. It's finding ways to make that happen.

0:12:38 - Tristra

I mean, I think Fred again could be. Just what he has done is such a great example of signaling community, in that every single album image or track image has people on it, people having fun together, right. He does tons of features, remixes, he is like always collaborating and in that regard he's basically signaling like I want this to be about a community and that is what is so. In some ways, that's a great. He's maybe a symbol or a bellwether right of what's to come, because you make such a great point.

This hyper customization is, in fact, antisocial and it it hinders the creation of community.

So you know a lot of these new AI projects that are coming out where it's like you can write your own novel or you can create your own song. These are all super, super personal and if you haven't read a lot of novels or if you haven't listened to a ton of music, you don't even kind of know where your boundaries are and where your true joy lies, right, so you're just and you're only going to make something for yourself. How do you share that with other people? How do you share that experience with other people? It's, in fact, kind of you know, anyone who's talking about this kind of hyper personalization is kind of talking about further isolation, which is maybe not what we want and which isn't really what music communities long to build together, long to build together? That's such a wonderful point and how you know, I'm wondering are we going to see a lot more artists who are finding different ways to kind of like Fred again has done, to signal let's build a community together?

0:14:20 - Rob

Exactly. I mean, I say like the number one skill for an artist in the next decade is being a community builder. And what is a great you mentioned is artwork. I mean, even in the music it's like these are from voice notes and it's with friends, it's just, you know it signals all of that to everybody. You know, and I think every, you know not every artist is going to be, you know, that specific subset, but it's finding ways when there is so much out there.

And now even with AI there's, you know, even more and you can kind of create your own. It's to get behind something. You need to feel like you're almost on like a mission together with the artists and the other people around it. I mean for it to stand out and take up your time and want you to commit and be a fan. You know it has to kind of be something more. You know there's almost like a bifurcation of we're going to see, like you know, there's more personalization and like AI and like inauthenticity in some regards. And then there's this whole other you know, group of artists and what people care about. That is like diving further and further into authenticity and community, and I think both those things can kind of live together at the same time.

0:15:29 - Tristra

Yeah, in fact, the you know, art thrives where there's these strong, like you know, like these strong counterpoints. And it'll be interesting if you've got the tension between these two, you know, diametrically opposed poles. There could be some really cool stuff that comes out of that. All right, I don't want to go too far down any kind of crazy philosophical rabbit hole, right this second we down any kind of crazy philosophical rabbit hole right this second. We're going to take a quick break and we'll be right back with Rob.

0:15:54 - Speaker 1

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0:17:08 - Tristra

All right. So, rob, I'd love to talk a little bit about this new interest that I'm seeing in some of what you've been writing about and thinking about and, in general, in the business direct models. So I hear a lot of creators not just in music talking about how important going direct to fan basically like opening your own Shopify or some version of that is basically like opening your own Shopify or some version of that is, and so this isn't like a totally new thing. People have been talking about direct to fan for like as I don't know for as long as I can remember. But you know, how, how do you see this changing the way artists and labels do business? I mean, for artists it's kind of like, oh cool, I can sell this. I mean, again, you're talking about, you talk about live, like this is sort of translating live into the recorded or digital realm. How would this change the way artists and labels do business and what do you see happening? How do you see this like this sort of dynamic evolving?

0:18:03 - Rob

Yeah, I mean it layers on a lot of the same points you know, in terms of cultivating fandom and it's actually interesting, I mean, compared to you know, any other consumer product or what could be like d2c, it's just the least sophisticated d2c businesses, I mean, and it's not artists and managers fault, it's the way the business set up, but you just you don't know your customer. Know any other business would be obsessed with knowing their customer, owning the relationship, personalizing for them, knowing the metrics that matter and like over-delivering there. And you know, because there hasn't been an emphasis on it, because whether it's labels or platforms, ticketing, streaming, social kind of own a lot of that data it's been hard to build really strong DTC businesses. It's always been important. I think it's more important than ever now because of this hyper fragmentation and it really makes you a strong, sustainable business. The most important thing is it's not I look at it as not just e-com, that's like when I think of direct-to-fan, it's like having that relationship, having the data, being able to create your own experiences and ultimately that helps monetization but it helps kind of you be self-reliant and independent from needing anything else. A lot of the new models we're seeing you know are are slight variations on membership models we've already seen before. Um, I think at the end, and I think what's also interesting is we're seeing vinyl continue to uh, grow every single year.

But it seems wild to me that we wouldn't have a new format to kind of take that place that's more digital in some way, shape or form. So I have a feeling there's like a new format around the corner to complement streaming. That you know. I don't know if vinyl's gonna. I don't think vinyl's going anywhere anytime soon.

But, like you know, half what's the sad? Half of people listen to their vinyl. They own it. To me it's like people want something that's a direct connection to the artists they care about, that has the artwork that feels like they own it, it's collectible. There's gonna be a version of that and obviously it wasn't NFTs, maybe a new version of that. But I think there's something that's going to fill that need and that probably comes direct from the artist. I work with a company called Bonfire that just launched or literally today just announced something called Season Passes, which tries to take the membership concept and instead of making it this endless subscription that is very hard to work out for artists right, super brutal for for the artist, yeah you know it's a huge commitment it doesn't work with like any of your other business lines.

it's like a whole new product line. So if you have like a label, it doesn't work with that. That. It's really vague value for the end consumer and then it's just hard to keep up. It's like you're endlessly creating. So their whole concept is like how do you create the memberships around your albums, your releases, your tours? Make them kind of passports to everything happening, and I'm hoping that's one of the things that fits into it. I think we're going to see a lot of different models. I think we're going to see a lot of different models. I think the biggest thing is artists and their teams prioritizing this, realizing they need to get all of the data, which starts with just the email, the SMS, who the person is around their business, and not be okay with it being held by other people Like that is theirs and they need to get it and then find ways to to act on it.

0:21:58 - Tristra

And the interesting thing too that a lot of creators face is sort of this platform whiplash, so suddenly the terms of service change, suddenly the fulfillment costs change. So I've heard a lot of rumors and whispers and dissatisfaction actually from, I mean, I love Bandcamp, a lot of artists love Bandcamp. Bandcamp is wonderful. They have increased fulfillment costs pretty significantly and so for a lot of smaller labels especially, this really hurts and it's really I mean, and just the postal service is raising. I mean there's always these layers of complications when it comes to running a business.

0:22:33 - Rob

Or just think about the fact that you know so much of the growth that we're seeing from streaming is now coming internationally, which is amazing. But now you have a more spread out fan base and often in places where they don't have as much disposable income. It's like how can you monetize on that fandom? It's more difficult.

0:22:52 - Tristra

And how can you speak to them? Like, I have a singer songwriter acquaintance who is like his song went viral in China and he didn't know about it until two years later and he had racked up like tens of millions of plays and streams and potential revenue and all that. And how do you speak to that audience? How do you make sure that you can engage with them across what can be sometimes substantial cultural differences and things like that?

0:23:20 - Rob

So it's definitely becoming a Direct-to-Fan is exciting, but it also has these really specific challenges that are kind of stunning in certain ways I mean, listen, it's a whole other level of what you have to do in kind of running your business as an artist, even for artists who have big teams. When I talk to labels and I talk to managers, the number one question is, when it comes to direct to fan, it comes to community. It's like this is awesome. Who should be doing this? Whose job is it? And they're just hoping.

When I'm talking to the label, they're hoping it's your job, rob, it's my job, exactly. At the end of the day, it's the artist's business, which means it should be either their manager or maybe a new vertical that they hire Because this is so important it can't be forgotten. But that's a new switch that needs to be turned on, which is hard for people to understand. It's different than maybe how business has been ran, so that's hard also be difficult for the platforms that start around this to really work because they don't take advantage of like network effects so like there's a lot of great fan club type.

You know startups that are happening that I really like and like the way they're building. But you know you have to get one by one, get another artist on board board and you don't. So it's a much more difficult business to build. So there's a lot of challenges there for sure, and I think it's up to each individual artist business to really create their own model.

0:24:54 - Tristra

Are there tools, though, that you could imagine, whether they're more on the sort of e-commerce side or project management side, or working together with some platform? Like you know, like there's a, there are ways you can post to a bunch of social media platforms at once and you can manage your socials. Will there be some sort of platform to manage all my direct or e-commerce efforts? What do you think is missing from you, say, we have one of the least sophisticated direct consumer businesses? What does the music industry need and what should we be building to make sure this new direct dynamic can come to its full?

0:25:32 - Rob

potential stage team, which is like the central direct to fan headquarters, which is essentially like crm customer data platform, where everything is consolidated and made easy so it integrates with all the different things you're using. You can use open stage tools. You can use other tools that you can kind of power better experiences in all these different places and know some like what's happening with your fans across social streaming, ticketing, messaging in your merch store. It's a big challenge to not only get all that but then to make it easy for fans, to make it easy for artists, and a lot of that is. There's AI or machine learning and automations that can hopefully make those things easier and easier for people. There's also great platforms out there, like Single, which is like turn Shopify into a more music friendly platform for people, and all kinds of other tools that are coming out that I do think simplify it or create kind of like make you know off-the-shelf business models for artists to use.

0:26:47 - Tristra

And especially if there's no one way to break through the noise, but having a collection of templates, I mean, or something's more sophisticated than templates, but basically templates that you could use to say, like, well, let me try this approach, and as right now it's like you have to build it yourself, and I think it's really daunting to have the patience to give, give all this stuff time, because direct takes longer to build, right, so way, way longer than something on socials or than on a streaming platform, I mean, but it's also more meaningful.

0:27:17 - Rob

So it's it's it's a it's a big decision to make, to invest the time, so it's a big decision to make to invest the time Exactly, and that's why I think you know monetizing like a fan club or something like that is a big decision to make earlier, early on, and the most important thing is just to make sure from day one, you are like cultivating relationships and that you're prioritizing whatever.

I do, you know, even if it converts less or the numbers are smaller. I want to make sure that I'm bringing people into a space that is mine and owned, and that's like everywhere, from your website to just your email list, or like building a community, and you mentioned like those numbers may be smaller but they're so much more meaningful.

0:28:00 - Tristra

And they're really something you can build on and compound. Cool. This is great food for thought. We're going to take another little break and we'll be right back. If you're enjoying this podcast, you really need to come hang out with us. How can that happen?

Well, it's very simple Seismic Activity which is our Music Tectonics free online event series. About once a month we convene the music tech community for networking, discussions and demos by innovators and inventors. So come join us and tune into the tremors that are about to be major shakeups in Seismic. Activity is fun, fast paced and interactive. Anyone who works where music and tech meet is welcome. See you soon. And selling direct doesn't mean there's no role for platforms or labels or other kind of exciting, bigger things that stretch across various artists, right? So what are some features or qualities you think established services will need to nurture to keep relevant in the next decade?

0:29:13 - Rob

That's a great question. I actually wrote a long article about what I would do if I was Spotify CEO about you know I'm thinking.

0:29:23 - Tristra

I think I remember that one I'm sorry I kept thinking of like a Dr Seuss style illustration. It's like if I read Spotify, like if I read the zoo.

0:29:35 - Rob

So much to focus on this because I think and maybe some of the TikTok music threat is less looming now because of everything that's happened since then, and maybe some of the TikTok music threat is less looming now because of everything that's happened since then. But, um, oh, yes, yeah, to me it goes back to the whole thing. If you can't just try to extract, you have to do more value. Um, and we're seeing a lot of segmentation from, say, spotify, you know, but but what's the extra value that that is actually going to be there and is that even possible at a platform where everybody's behavior is so, you know, habitually lean back, and I think you know what they should do, or what platforms like that should do, are find ways to really let the artist and fan more organically and directly connect with each other and have a value exchange that's meaningful.

You know some of these places. That means, you know, like, something I said was I thought you know Spotify's strategy for creator tools had been to create tools for the musicians releasing music on the platform, and that failed. You know they've kind of sold those off. The real strategy should have been to have creative tools for the listeners on the platform, right? So like, how can you facilitate ways for you know fans and listeners to interact with other fans and listeners and for artists to create some more of these like lead-in opportunities. But these things don't work if they feel extractive or inauthentic. I keep believing in the Spotify example but, like, I got a you know email yesterday that was like hey, you're one of the top fans and I won't say the artist, you should get this thing and I'm like I've never even listened to that artist Right and it's it doesn't feel like it's coming from them and it's just it feels like these marketing campaigns.

0:31:17 - Rob

I think you know it's. You have to start from first principles of like, what is an actual like artist fan relationship, look like Can we let that happen? Can there really be community here? And if the existing platforms aren't going to do that effectively, then we're going to see a lot of niche or new players bubble up that like, raise their hand to kind of like fill that, that purpose, like we're seeing with SoundCloud and Audio Mac and some of these new platforms.

0:31:44 - Tristra

Yeah, the interesting thing is, I mean, I remember back in the day when Spotify was just breaking into the US market, there were a lot of social functions right. There was like an inbox and you could like kind of follow people, and people used to like follow your playlist randomly, even people you didn't know, and there was Apple Connect and there were these attempts to build. But I think you're getting at something important, rob, which is the future might be defined more by this sort of blended, creative fan world, right, instead of translating music experiences into texts you share with people via Spotify or other platform, you would be translating your experience. You would keep in music, like you keep speaking music, for lack of a better way of putting it. You know what I'm saying. So I think that's a really interesting point, because I often think about all of these.

You know, social, audio and social features on music, different music apps I mean Soundcloud might be the most successful, um, and part of that is because you can stay within the music, right, like you can timestamp a thing on a track and go, like you know, say whatever yeet or hooray, I love this, or like great drop or whatever. Um, sorry, but you know there's there's. There's not a lot of opportunity, you know, in spotify, for example, or other DSPs like it, to just be like oh my God, the bridge, I love this, you know. Or I want to take this bridge and just make a whole loop of that and slow it down with reverb, you know, and that might be part of the future. What do you think?

0:33:17 - Rob

I think you're right and I think it goes back to that question of does it, you know, can that be layered on top of these existing platforms where we already have a passive experience, or is it somewhere where you go first for like a deeper social community experience? Then the music is in the, you know the other activities are layered on there. You know, SoundCloud in many ways like started very social, started very social, and I look at like things like Discord and it's like there's ways to bring bots in there, to bring music in, but it doesn't really like exist on top of the music and I think there's like an opportunity there for like a newer existing platform, to kind of say like how can we merge these things much more seamlessly?

0:34:00 - Tristra

Yeah, part, I think, the social features. I think we're now getting to a point, thanks to AI and different, you know, more open minded licensing approaches and other things, where we could see people actually building from a musical standpoint right, as opposed to just like oh, social social media should look like this people should send each other other messages and they should post things and that kind of stuff. So sort of it's sort of if we can break the mold and understand what audio can do on its own, I don't know, it's an interesting. It's a really, really interesting, uh, and very fertile place to to think about. Now I want to kind of close things out and just see if there's anything that you're thinking about that we haven't talked about.

We haven't talked about a ton of stuff that I know you're thinking about. But, as you're looking forward to the next 10 years, are there some interesting dynamics, trends, like little hints of some interesting changes in the music business that you really feel are exciting and we haven't had a chance to mention? Like, basically, open season for rob. What are you thinking about for the next 10 years?

0:35:07 - Rob

because we've touched on so much of it. Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, I mean I think a lot of it goes back to I I think, seeing a lot of like direct artist businesses but in some kind of confederation, right, and that kind of gives artists and fans a lot more ownership.

0:35:25 - Tristra

Yeah, like an artist, fediverse.

0:35:27 - Rob

Yes, exactly right, you know, and it's I'm I'm really interested to see what's going to happen with the major labels, in that they've really moved away from development in so many ways. They've cut out so many of their teams. I always make fun of the um labels are just banks. I always have like that's a terrible analogy, but it's like they've kind of become just banks more and more now. And like these investment arms and you know, we're seeing universal with these like really strong moves to like leverage their, their power to say, like spotify or tiktok are going to have marketing, uh tools that are just for us and we're going to make sure we have certain market share.

Um, I look at that, we're going to change the way royalties are paid and you could look at that in a couple different ways. One you could say, wow, they're really going to strengthen their position. It's going to be very, very hard for indies to break through. Or you could look at that as like the death throes of certain power structures that are happening, because these are like graphs, grasps at power. And you know, do we have a kind of like post major label, post traditional power players involved in like the new level of artists?

that are coming out um and what is that like post traditional structure layout really look like um, like music getting further and further democratized. So I'm really interested there. One of my like scary things is looking at um is ai and that it this is maybe not an exciting thing, this is maybe a negative thing. This is ai gives, uh, more power to big players and like important ip and it does in a lot of ways, any other ip right. So like, if you think streaming helped the biggest artists in ip scale into more and more places and be more available than they ever could have before, and before that recorded music helped artists scale from, like they didn't have to be present, you know, whatever it is right.

Well, now AI takes that further in that, you know Drake can now collaborate with anybody in the world at scale. He can now make commercials in every single language and everything, every single geospecific. You know context, scale and go add infinitum there. So does that suck up opportunities for all of the kind of the middle and like you know, uh, developing artists in the world and what is kind of like the fallout from that? It's like a super interesting thing to me of like what happens next in music. Do we have kind of like this super class of ip and then everyone in the world is a music creator, but not as a professional. Is that like a potential outcome of music in 10-15 years from now?

0:38:16 - Tristra

yeah, that's an interesting I mean, in some ways it's like back to the future. Right, there's, that was this, there were. That was sort of the original state. Right, there were often, I mean at least in in, say, western Europe. Right, there were these like people who had limited access to music, like written music and music that could be published was. Everybody else was always making music all the time.

You know, people used to always be singing, creating music, modifying songs that they knew to suit their own purposes, all that fun stuff, and it's kind of cool we're getting back to that. But it's also like, you're right, what is this giant top layer that's going to be very heavy, like a big block of ice sitting on the sea of creators. Right, it's an interesting question. And here's the other question too in that scenario, will we have this sort of ongoing nostalgia loop? Right, that's almost like an ocean current that keeps just spinning around and around and no one new can really break into that, or not very easily, or very, very rarely, because this is IP. Everyone knows it's valuable and thus it gets boosted through this kind of AI superpower law. Right, I don't know, but I have a dream, rob, that music will prevail and that the guy and the gal with their instruments just doing their thing will always, kind of will always gather people around them in some way, shape or form, we just don't know how yes, authenticity always breaks through and it goes back to the whole.

0:39:51 - Rob

You can build a community around what you're doing, then you'll it'll succeed and people will love it and you. It's that bifurcation of we either love it or it's in the slop of everything.

0:40:07 - Tristra

So this has been really, really awesome. Rob, thanks for going on this sort of rollercoaster ride with me through the future of the music business and, yeah, it's been great. Thanks for having me.

0:40:18 - Dmitri

Thanks for listening to Music Tectonics. If you like what you hear, please subscribe on your favorite podcast app. We have new episodes for you every week. Did you know? We do free monthly online events that you, our lovely podcast listeners, can join? Find out more at musictectonicscom and, while you're there, look for the latest about our annual conference and sign up for our newsletter to get updates about our annual conference. And sign up for our newsletter to get updates. Everything we do explores the seismic shifts that shake up music and technology, the way the earth's tectonic plates cause quakes and make mountains. Connect with Music Tectonics on Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. That's my favorite platform. Connect with me. Dmitri Vietze, if you can spell it, We'll be back again next week, if not sooner

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The Music Tectonics podcast goes beneath the surface of the music industry to explore how technology is changing the way business gets done. Weekly episodes include interviews with music tech movers & shakers, deep dives into seismic shifts, and more.


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