Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Listening Service

Here's a random thought on the future of the industry. Listening service. How many times has someone told you, "hey, check this out." The exposed you to a song that you really loved, and if they hadn't, you may have never heard it. That role used to fall specifically on the dj, and the radio station dj at that. Could you imagine only hearing music that was played on the radio? God forbid!

No, now we either have to do a bunch of random listening ourselves, have a really cool friend who collects music, is a dj, or just has a great playlist. Apple has attempted to satisfy this role with the "genius" service, where they analyze your playlist and make suggestions based on their data as to what they want to promote upon you, but that's more of the radio grade promotion of major label mischief.

It is my opinion that the current state of affairs is similar to the produce aisle in the local grocery store, and that those unmodified organics, and locally grown goodies are what taste the best to not only the discerning palate, but most of the general public.

So lets be clear. In the last 30 years, we went from tape to computer. Teenagers at home are able to do things that couldn't be done in professional studios of yesteryear, with gear costing in hundreds vs yesterdays gear in tens of thousands. Did the human ear advance at any time during this period? No. Has the overall quality of production improved, absolutely. But did the overall quality of music improve overall, absolutely not. Yes, while the production of music we are wanting to hear should have a minimum level of decency - the value of "perfect" production is highly debatable.

Back to the main topic, the listening. There is so much music out there now, no one could physically listen to it all. The real value today is in the picking. Someone or some group wading through the bulk of it and picking out the gems - that would be invaluable today, and in the future. Combining that with the natural selection that occurs on mediums such as YouTube, and cream could rise to the top at a much faster rate. Overall, the general public could locate good music from completely independent sources in short order.

What would this require? Genre specific "listeners" who would wade through the independent minions with regularity, selecting and posting their selections into a medium that 1. had good visibility among many thousands of listeners and 2. would be found beneficial by the majority of those listeners. 3. accountability on the part of the "listener". I think a key facet of this would be a multi- tiered method of filtering. Insomuch as perhaps 3 to 5 "listeners" would be filtering the same genre, and for accountability, each person would record their decision as to yes or no on each song they either passed on, or promoted.

That is the future of the music business. Picking 10 quality songs a month from virtually unknown sources that could be relied on for great listening in a particular genre. What would that be worth? It would be invaluable. Now that is not what we are trying to do with the monthly contest. Not at all. But the monthly contest is a starting point. The monthly contest is the launching pad. The formation of the visibility, and the community, that will grow into an eventual hub of music creators and listeners. A place where quality songs get immediate attention and are immediately available in the marketplace.

That's how I see it.

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