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December 30, 2007

Richard Florida

Music Models

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David Byrne on the evolution of the music industry over at Wired (h/t: Brad Glonka, Kevin Stolarick). 

No single model will work for everyone. There's room for all of us. Some artists are the Coke and Pepsi of music, while others are the fine wine — or the funky home-brewed moonshine. And that's fine. I like Rihanna's "Umbrella" and Christina Aguilera's "Ain't No Other Man." Sometimes a corporate soft drink is what you want — just not at the expense of the other thing. In the recent past, it often seemed like all or nothing, but maybe now we won't be forced to choose. Ultimately, all these scenarios have to satisfy the same human urges: What do we need music to do? How do we visit the land in our head and the place in our heart that music takes us to? Can I get a round-trip ticket?

Actually, I like both of those songs too- they're hooky-catchy and they pack a punch.And, yes, I'm only admitting that because Mr. Byrne already did  The version of Umbrella Rihanna did at the World Music Awards in Monte Carlo rocked far harder then the original version. Problem is there are far fewer popular songs like this, these days.

But Byrne's article raises a deeper question. The great economist, Mancur Olson argued that  major shifts in economic models often go together with major geographic shifts - the rise and decline of nations or geographic regions.  Will this shift in the music industry model also cause a geographic shift and the rise of new musical centers?


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Mike Rocha

Florida wrote: "Will this shift in the music industry model also cause a geographic shift and the rise of new musical centers?"

Yes. It's already exists on a micro level in the sub-industries of the larger umbrella that is the "music industry." The sub-industry that I am directly involved with is music production and recording. There are currently countless small studios (1,000 sq feet or less) operating in Toronto and most of them are missing the big landmark items that people associate with traditional recording studios like large mixing consoles, gigantic in-wall speakers, and a small museum's worth of very expensive processing equipment. The proliferation of these small studios is a recent occurrence (in perfect parallel to the demise of the large scale studios.. sound familiar?) that can be attributed to many things, although technology has provided the biggest gateway.

On a larger scale, there will be/is a breaking apart of the archetypal hot-beds of LA, New York, Toronto, London, etc. They will never cease to exist, but the playing field will be leveled out. The big industries aren't dying, they are simply being forced back into a naturally sustainable package after being unnaturally bloated for the past few decades. The much-used bell-curved growth/decline graph is a perfect example of what is happening. The big business on the right side on their way down, and the small folks on the left on the way up.

But the cycle will happen again. Out with old and in the with the new unless some dramatic shift happens in the human condition that removes the irresistible dangling carrot of progress and growth from our list of desires.

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