WORLD WIDE WEB (Hypebot) – THE NEW PARADIGM PART I – The
digital music revolution has fractured media consumption into
niches, shifted creation and distribution from the few to the
many and nearly leveled the playing field between the powerful
labels and the committed individual.
Welcome to the new musical middle class.
Musicians no longer need a big check from a label to record or
a big promotional push to launch a career. With free software
and a computer great music is being created in basements
everywhere. On social networking sites and virally between
friends and across the blogosphere unknown music is finding an
Slowly but visibly many of these artists are inventing their
careers. Not a career fueled by Krystal and delivered in limos,
but rather one earned by practicing their craft, listening to
their fans and delivering the results live.
The fans may only number from 20-100,000. But without greedy
hands in the middle, the profits are enough. And mercifully,
the results of this labor are not as ephemeral as in the past.
If the artist's effort continues; fans stay loyal.
There will always be mega-stars and one hit wonders. But how
hopeful it is for musicians, fans and for music, that there is
finally a place for middle class of musicians proud of their
craft and connected to their audience. And what wonderful
opportunities await for the middle class of labels and other
companies created to serve them.
Hypebot's New Paradigm series continues later this week
with: Part II – A Global Perspective and Part III – The New
On Monday in the first part in a series called
The New Paradigm, I wrote about what I see as "The Rise Of The
New Musical Middle Class" some learned Hypebot readers
questioned my premise and a healthy debate
followed. Join the debate and tell us what you think.
Glenn @ Coolfer – "…I'd be more prone to call it a growing
lower-middle class. There is an absolute glut of music
the audience becomes more fractured, each player's piece of the
shrinks… As for increased loyalty, that will depend on the
use of customer relationship tools. I believe success can be as
fleeting as ever – look no further than the manner in which
chew up and spit out bands at record rates…"
in the organic growth of bands like Hot Buttered Rum and
Toubab Krewe – neither of whom have never had real
deals and who now sell out enough 500-100 seat venues to make a
decent living touring and selling music and merch direct to
I also see it in former "label bands" like Over The
They are a fabulous band with loyal fans – but musically they
fit anywhere neat in terms of radio or other media.
But by continuing to make quality music and using all the Music
tools, they can hold on to and grow their fans base and make a
living doing it…"
Mike @ Radio Nowhere – "The Rise of the Musical Middle
been imminent for a few years now, but it's starting to seem
it's going to be permanently just around the corner.
When people talk about bands that are opting out of the old
label way of doing business and using this new-fangled internet
chart their own course, these bands almost always seem to be
that I've already heard of…because they got some traction in
old system before they opted out of it. Your mention of Over
Rhine is a good example.
Don't get me wrong – I'd love it if 2008 were the year that the
paradigm finally arrived (in fact, I'm staking my own musical
on it), but just because the technology for Music 2.0 is here
doesn't necessarily mean that the economics of the situation
changed. The theory makes sense, but in practice, the money and
attention that talented musicians need to break out of
still seems to be in short supply.
Join The Debate
My post of Monday, 'The Rise Of The Musical Middle Class' and the
follow up piece yesterday has
started a very informed and heated discussion. Many seem
skeptical that my premise that the digital age is giving rise
to a new Musical Middle Class is more than wishful thinking.
One reader challenged me to name 100 bands that fit the Musical
Middle Class paradigm and I believe that with very little work
I could name that many and more. I encourage you to join the debate whatever side you're on and
would love to hear some actual stories of success or failure.
I'll publish a roundup of the best comments as a main post.