It's always nice when you see other people validating your own philosophies. There's always the danger of being caught in an echo chamber of course, but when it's Dave Grohl and Taylor Swift intelligently laying down their predictions, findings and experience it's hard not to get excited.
The first article appeared on AUX.TV, titled Dave Grohl and Taylor Swift might be the smartest people in music. The choice quote, which is effectively the point of the article is:
"In the future, artists will get record deals because they have fans—not the other way around."
And fandom doesn't always happen in isolation - it also happens when (surprise) other people all around you validate your own fandom. That magic when a crowd sings along to a well known part of the song? That's that social magic happening.
The AUX article led me to TSwift's WSJ article where, in some truly elegant terms, lays out her optimistic for the evolution of music through the power of having genuine relationships with your fans. That one's called For Taylor Swift, the Future of Music Is a Love Story. Choice quote (edited for brevity):
"The way I see it, fans view music the way they view their relationships. Some music is just for fun, a passing fling. Some songs and albums represent seasons of our lives, like relationships that we hold dear in our memories but had their time and place in the past. However, some artists will be like finding "the one."
The question for sourced is how do we most effectively nurture these relationships? Crowdfunding models are more the practical application, but as the marketing guy I want to make sure both our systems and culture support exactly the kind of thing Ms. Swift endeavours for - how do you use technology and the increasing connectivity of the world to build the bonds between artists and fans, between fans and fans?
It's a wonderful problem to be solving :)
This actually gets me thinking about how to tackle the idea of finding a new favorite song, by using some of the techniques employed by dating sites.
I really like the second quote, its the perfect description of music to me. Some artists end up creeping their way into your heart to stay there forever, others just have single tracks that grab your attention in the moment and then fade away.
We've already seen a bit of the shift to the fans first model. There's a lot of people who say the days of A&R are dead and that bands need to have their own momentum ahead of any kind of signing, not just be good. That's only going to get more pronounced, and at that point with crowdfunding being a viable option, the value prop of signing in the first place is drastically reduced since finding the fans is the hard part.
Seth Godin said it well. Artists don't have funding problems, they have exposure problems. Once they solve the exposure problem, they indirectly solve the money problem. That's certainly not 100% true, great artists with great fanbases can still not make it. But with crowdfunding, bandcamp, social media, etc, its starting to become more true over time.