Willie Peters asks:
How do you think the Entertainment Industry will be shaped by the recent collaborations of mixed media? Do you think that the industry could consolidate into a new sector? For example, the highly publicized Animal Collective are talking about creating a "visual album"....will this concept inspire others to collaborate with a variety of artists to promote their trade? This has been happening for many years but is it possible that "stars" will HAVE TO be experienced in ALL forms of entertainment?
The Music Renaissance is not just the Phoenix rising from the ashes of the postmodern record industry, it is a complete reinvention of the music business. Th eprocess begins in the video gaming world with a wide range of interactive "play along" musical programs. Millions of little guitar heroes revel in the euphoria, that only music can provide, as they addict themselves to the mathematics of the masses. Virtual music is a gateway drug that often leads young gamers to covet a real guitar.
Musicians always love their own stuff and I never met one that didn't think he was going all the way to The Big Top. Unfortunately, ninety percent of them were sucked down the black hole of broken dreams. The ten percent who make a profit and survive, compete for the "music" portion of the entertainment dollar. Free digital downloads have forced the gross receipts into free fall.
The low threshold for entry into the most competitive environment on the planet allows all skill levels to participate. This creates a, "can't see the forest for the trees," scenario. The record companies still feed product to radio, but even a hit ain't a hit these days. Modest sales out of the box will catapult a new CD to number one. Therefore labels can't afford to develop new artists.
The top ten percent of the performing arts community competes for one hundred percent of the music money. The circus that hosts this competition is an amorphous network of colleges, night clubs and concert halls whose events are promoted by artists and entrepreneurs on the Internet and in the main stream media. Every genre has its mythical birthplace. Each venue in a community earns its position in the hierarchy of prestige. The ability to move up in capacity and draw an audience to the next largest venue is a true indicator of an act's progressup the ladder to financial success.
To survive, an artist must present a live act entertaining enough to cause audiences to bring their friends to the return engagement. Skillful marketing of music and branded merch at live events, combined with box office receipts, must create a profit for the promoter and the artist alike. Singers and bands without polished performance skills will be pushed off the survival plateau.
All Internet activity is conducted in an audio-visual universe. The artist who rises above the chaos will need to be proficient at many things. Multimedia coordination and synchronization will be imperative. Presentation and promotion of music is irrevocably married to film and video. The youtube.com phenomenon has imposed a radical keyhole through which endless streams of new content can be viewed.
Artists must develop appropriate visual componants in order to present their music on the world wide web. Personal sites, social networks and music marketing systems all employ visual content to facilitate promotion and sales of recorded music. Every genre has an established visual image that is deemed the traditional fashion of that style. Black leather, skulls and chains definitely says "metal." Cowboy hats say country and oversized shorts, falling down, screams Hip Hop.
Survival in The Music Renaissance is as much about business skill as it is musical talent. Artists must be proficient in all aspects of the entrtainment industry. The service you can perform for yourself is one that you won't have to pay someone else to do. The ideal scenario is for an act to write its own material, produce the records, distributes their msuic and merch at live gigs, through their personal web site and via the various on line music distribution systems.
Since the music business is reinventing itself, the inclusion of video in all aspects of promotion and marketing is imperative. Singers and Bands will be required to create low cost video to emphasize and punctuate their music. Concept albums could enhance the artists ability to tell his stories more efficiently. The combination of words, music and pictures geometrically increases the impact of the audio visual entertainment experience.
Bands must create and produce their own video content in tandem with their music production. Successful entertainers will of necessity need to learn the basic principals of film production. Every band should carry a video camera to document their activities. Fans want to know their heroes and interact with them. Musicians need to enroll and retain members in their club.
Reality TV has exposed the raw underbelly of the music business, including the diurnal struggles that all artists face, to the widest possible audience. The public knows when they buy a concert ticket, or purchase CDs and merch at a live event, that they are supporting the artist's survival. That survival depends directly upon the efficientcy of the artist's booking and marketing mechanism. Mastery of the core activities of entertainment reinforces the artist's control over his business and artistic activities. Reducing operating expenses gets him to profit sooner than leter.