I was very taken by the launch of SoundIndex from the BBC, which came to my attention today. Why? Take a look at this partial screenshot:
The chart by itself is not particularly remarkable. Not until you take a look at the rubric for the colours under each track, shown as the Power Bar Key.
A good piece of visualisation, I hear you say. Maybe that’s not particularly remarkable either. Not until you take a look at some of the possible implications on distribution models, from a recent Wired article by David Byrne (yes, the Talking Head).
All of which leads to this, also from the same article, well worth a read:
The times, they aren’t a-changing any more. They have changed. It is no longer possible to sustain a situation where overheads and marketing costs take more than half the money from the sale of a CD. The iTunes approach is not necessarily sustainable either, as Byrne points out.
For many years, I have had to put up with the phrase “content is king”, a phrase I personally find irritating, abhorrent, to be classed with words like “audience”. Looking back, I now realise why content was king. Because we’d managed to drive a wedge between creators and their creations.
It’s not going to be that easy any more, separating the creator from her creation.
I think this wedge may have been meaningful in the days of atoms, when copying the creations was not a trivial task, when distribution was valued and had high barriers to entry. Now all that changes, with the internet becoming that great big copier in the cloud, as Kevin Kelly stated so eloquently in Better Than Free.
For a long time now, I’ve been insisting that Jerry Garcia was the father of opensource (as evinced by the Grateful Dead’s enlightened attitude towards taping rows at concerts) allowing . Now maybe that’s coming round full circle. Now maybe it’s time for musicians to take a leaf out of opensource. Maybe we’re going to see more and more of some variant of Creative Commons, where the music is free as long as you don’t make commercial use of it, with all rights belonging to the artist.
When commercial use is made, the artist gets paid. While continuing to retain all rights.
The artist is in control.
Just musing on a Saturday night.