Monday, July 18, 2005

All the world is a garage

Simple equation: GarageBand + GarageBand.com = new independent music industry.

Though in the end these two like-named brands may not dominate the independent music industry, they both represent the current cutting edge of a new era of artistic freedom. Those who are worried about how artists will receive income from these services are missing the point. These services are a means to an end; they seek to decrease the overhead costs and simplify the processes of record production (GarageBand) and radio broadcasting (GarageBand.com).

While these services do not directly generate revenue, they allow the artist to be their own engineer and radio publicist. If contracted under a traditional record label agreement, the band would have to recoup thousands of dollars in album sales to pay for the studio and publicity services.

The independent record labels don't loose out either, because easy-to-use multi-tracking software is spawning a new generation of recording artists. Sure, a lot of them will be singing off-key about an ex-girlfriend to a drum machine, but the talent pool will also grow larger. One can imagine artists being signed on the strength of their GarageBand demo. In terms of podcasting, indie labels have a new and powerful way to distribute music directly to the influential fans that spread their fanaticism to peers.

There are still huge kinks in the system. Any amateur-engineered recording on GarageBand would make a ProTools veteran tear his ears off. And the program isn't free; if you add the cost of a Mac computer, GarageBand is very far from free. Then again, a 21st century musician without a computer is like a 20th century musician without a hat to pass around.

Podcasting is still in its infancy and will spend the rest of the year trying to find itself. As with peer-to-peer networks and other new music mediums, there is a significant learning curve for the newbie. The vast libraries of podcasting directories are similar to the mountains of awful music once piled on MP3.com with no intuitive filter. Social networking portals such as MySpace Music currently offer the best solution for music promotion: let your fans do the work. This is the same thinking behind podcasting: let the fans be the DJs. The convergence of social networking and podcasting will catalyze and define the new independent music industry.

This is why GarageBand.com has the edge on podcasting. While Apple's million-plus podcasting subscription base and omnipresent product recognition are not to be discounted, their only true social network is a brand-worshipping sub-culture of consumers who do not represent the greater community of independent artists.

Garageband.com, however, has a community of millions of musicians that continued to grow over the last five years despite chaotic changes in digital music. The GarageBand.com model of participation -- where bands only get to upload music once they've provided in-depth reviews on several of their peers -- guarantees a rich, unique community experience that is unavailable at any other site. If GarageBand.com can establish itself as a podcasting leader, independent music fans will rush to join the artists they love to create an entirely new type of listening experience.

That is, until the MySpace podcast studio.

5 Comments:

Anonymous MaX said...

What an inspiring view you are giving here. I´m there with you on this. Hopefully things will change and fast. Music will survive the industry, that´s for sure. A better music landscape for musicians and for fans too. Rules will not come back to be the way they were and that makes me happy.

Keep up the good job in this blog and please keep feeding our hope that things will be better!

:)

2:42 PM  
Anonymous Jose' Luis Diaz said...

Excellent article. The music-biz- landscape is indeed evolving into something better.

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