Monday, October 01, 2007

Replacing "Fame Creation" with "Fame Transfer" is the next transition for the music industry.
A realization was triggered by the news of Radiohead's new album download pricing scheme: pay what you want, $1 - $100. This isn't a new idea, nor is it at all the first implementation of the idea. What's new here is that Radiohead, a band with singular brand power, is doing it. And that got me thinking...Radio head achieved that power through the tried and true machine of the record label. This is not to take away from the band's merit, but they surely didn't become famous despite their label's help. And looking at the handful of artists that have previously been lauded as vanguards of a new economics in music, we see they are mostly products of the old economics who now have freedom to exercise their manufactured power out of contract: Prince, Peter Gabriel, Pearl Jam and now (moving on in the alphabet) Radiohead.

What I realized is that for all the economic changes in the industry, the way in which fame (which in this industry is power) is created and transferred is still the same. I think it is finally time for artists themselves to start passing fame directly on to other artists in a mass way. This is also neither a new idea, or unimplemented. Starbucks music has had a very successful business of "Artist Picks" type compilations. But now with the rise of artist profiles on social networks, all now have the ability to do this with little monetary cost. The only thing at stake is reputation, and it takes a little time, too.

But what a huge difference it would make? We go from a chain of Label produces Artist produces money for Label who produces new Artist to a chain of Artist produces Artist. How elegant and efficient. All we need is a clever marketing genius to productize a way for artists to transfer fame to new artists directly using their fanbases on social networks. If you are such a
genius, give me a shout, I'd love to help.