Fans as Producers

I’ve stated before that I think the key to effective live performance is to break down the barrier between who’s the performer and who’s the audience.  I give the example of my friend, Skip Folse, who performed at a club here in Atlanta.

At one part of the evening he would start the “naked conga line.”  The club had two entrances and people would form a line in front of the stage, dance out one door into the parking lot, return through the other door, and when they reached the front of the stage the ladies would lift their tops and the men would turn and drop their trousers.  Skip performed with one hand on the keyboard and one hand holding a digital camera, which he used to snap a picture as the action happened.  He would meet the people on his break, find out their story, edit the pictures with ‘stars’ to cover the naughty parts, and upload them to his website before going to bed after the gig.  Everyone knew that if they were part of the naked conga line, they would be ‘famous’ by morning.

Now look at this video and check out what the Kaiser Chiefs are doing with their new release. Fans can go to their website and listen to 20 new songs by the Chiefs.  They pick their favorite 10 songs, arrange them in any order they wish, and design their custom album cover from pre-selected art.  They are then given their own personalized web page to sell their version of the album.  For every copy they sell, they receive £1 via PayPal.

I know it’s still selling copies, but I think it’s a great twist on the idea of exactly who is the the producer of the album. Very creative idea, IMO.

They’re Here

Spotify is making its US launch today.  We already have music stream services like Rhapsody, but Spotify offers a free ad supported version of its services and offers integration with Facebook, making it easy to share music you love with others.  Well, that’s the company line, at least.  It’s surely the way music will be moving forward.  Instead of ownership of a limited number of copies, we as consumers will gain access to an unlimited virtual library of songs.  We’ll all have our own  personal jukebox in the sky, so to speak.

Plus, for those of us old-schoolers who do have a library of owned material, we can use the Amaon or Apple cloud and store everything there to stream back to us when we need it.

Side thought, brought on by the law of supply and demand: As technology has moved forward, computer manufacturers have dropped the things from their hardware that are out of step with the times.  There are no more floppy disk drives, no more PCI slots, AGP graphic slots, IDE hard drives, etc.  With the advent of the iPad, there are quite a few things missing that were on our desktop computer.  If you need it, it’s available ‘in the cloud.’

What is ‘the cloud?”  It’s simply storage space.  It’s paid 4G data access.  You don’t want to be limited by that puny 500 gigabyte hard drive?  Here’s your solution.  Do away with it and store everything on the massive redundant storage systems offered by your internet service provider.

So, in the words of The Who: meet the new boss, same as the old boss.  It’s still a game of supply and demand.  We’ve demanded instant access to everything, and for a price, it can be supplied.

That puts the music industry as part of the supply chain, providing the content that the public can use.  How do the creators and owners of this music get paid?  That’s still an ongoing point, but one possible solution is a public performnace license.  Give a listen to Gerd Leonhard’s video.  I think it makes sense.