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selling plastic vs. music

In two Wired articles, David Byrne talks with Thom Yorke, Brian Eno and others about the shifting business model of music.

What is called the music business today (...) is not the business of producing music. At some point it became the business of selling CDs in plastic cases, and that business will soon be over. But that's not bad news for music, and it's certainly not bad news for musicians.

With the costs of production, manufacture and distribution all greatly reduced, the role of the monolythic record company for many musicians is coming to an end. Except for a few mega pop artists, who "will still need that mighty push and marketing effort for a new release that only traditional record companies can provide," even marketing is becoming more affordable as artists are able to reach their audience directly, online and on tour.

Thus Radiohead's recent experiment with 'In Rainbows' - selling the music online and allowing buyers to determine their own price - is just one of many new ways of selling music. To be sure, they already have their audience, which makes such an experiment a lot easier than it would be for a starting band. But, to use a big word, the paradigm shift is in rethinking the relationship of artist and audience.

What is music, what does music do for people? What do people get from it? What's it for? That's the thing that's being exchanged. Not all the other stuff. The other stuff is the shopping cart that holds some of it.

Here are the articles (text and audio):

See also: previous post on 'Good Copy Bad Copy' for some more radical examples of music distribution.

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