Change – tipping points

Change in the music business is a topic that fascinates me, even though I’m not a typical artist or independent music business. I am not actually writing or selling as my main activity. I’m hanging out round the periphery as a service to music writers and producers, but change will still impact on how I operate and where I must look for income.

I picked up the link to Keith Jopling’s blog from Wired, where he offers 5 tipping points over the next few years that will mark significant change in the business of music. Rather like the recent oil price may mark significant change in our travel habits (I wish).

Tipping Point 1: A major global superstar artist goes entirely digital, no more CDs

Tipping Point 2: A record label realises that its global direct-to-consumer business is directly more profitable than with music retailers, and subsequently largely dispenses with low margin wholesaling

Tipping Point 3: A new-entrant retailer really shakes up the consumer offer by aggregating the widest possible group of music assets for sale in one place, at amazing prices

Tipping Point 4: A major label gets multi-right portfolios (previously known as 360 degree deals) working effectively as a standard model

Tipping Point 5: ‘Total Music’ takes hold

And he adds detail to these forecasts on his blog.
He puts these in the context of David Bowie’s lyrics (from the song ‘Sunday’)
“It’s the beginning of nothing. And nothing has changed. Everything has changed”

All of those forecasts seem to be happening already (which is the point of the lyric reference I guess) but he doesn’t mention that the product itself may change, though perhaps this is encompassed in the terms ‘music assets’ and ‘multi-right portfolios’.
As media converges will the stand alone music track be the primary vehicle for music? Video, film and tv seem to be at the top of the tree in ‘complete’ media and it is becoming increasingly easy for anyone to be a moving image broadcaster. (,, Musicians will argue that they should focus on their specialism and leave the rest to someone else – but could that be a collaboration as part of the creation process, so that music (not just background score, but songs) is produced in a community of media makers, just as moving image media is largely a collaborative process already.

Musicians are moving towards this; they are breaking out from their safe-zones of the studio and the stage and starting to blog and broadcast (I’ve been following Shadowkat recently), so my 6th tipping point is that new music is released as an integrated part of a movie or tv show. And as I’m not an industry analyst, I wouldn’t be surprised if this has already happened!

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