We ain’t never going back, but the path forward ain’t clear.”
– some country song, (I think)
By some account the music industry has been “decimated” by the digitization of music. Piracy, freemium models and the consumer’s unwillingness to pay for music are often cited as the villains in this fairy tale. While you can go to any of the multitude of music conferences and hear someone or even a panel of someones bemoaning the current fate, few are talking about what comes next. Maybe in the point solution way, block chain can “fix” complicated licensing labyrinth or algorithms can solve the problem of new music discovery. But not in a holistic way that looks at the industry and envisions the “new” industry. In part, this is because the ones doing the crystal ball gazing are existing insiders with vested interests. We can talk about block chain but can’t talk about the fact that in a block chain world the massive infrastructures that are rights organizations would be reduced to authenticators, a role that requires many fewer people. We can talk about the direct-to-fan movement but can’t acknowledge that this could cause the current label system to collapse (making them well-funded barriers to change). But the real driver of the current lack of vision for the industry is that we just don’t know.
Unknowns to knowns
There is a species of organization purpose-built to thrive in a world where the “unknowns” outnumber the “knowns”…startups. That is why I, and VL Group are focused on this critical market of mass innovation. I don’t know where the innovation will come from but I know it will come from startups. That is why, from our API, to our pricing, to our collaborative approach we are making music startup ready. How do we use music to drive enhanced user engagement and user experience? How do we help fans find the next sound that they are going love? How do we help artists monetize their work, their audience and their brand? The answers to these and other questions will emerge in the coming years and we are betting it won’t come from inside the industry.
We have just started and there is a lot more to do (this shit is hard). But we are moving. From our API to our artist stores to label relations, we are working on every front to ensure that we enable startups to explore and experiment. So put on your headphones, set your sights high and build something amazing. Our industry is counting on it.