A new model for music: Big bands, big brands

By David Carr I like Doritos as much as the next guy. More, probably. And I admire Lady Gaga for her handcrafted rise to the top of pop culture. In Austin last week, the salty, cheesy wonder of Doritos was brought to you by the sweet, uplifting allure of Lady Gaga. Or was it the other way around? That blend of sweet and savory, corporate and personal, commerce and art at this year’s South by Southwest festival, also known as SXSW, was a reminder that music can no longer pay its own way. In a streamed world where music itself has very little value, selling out is far from looked down upon, it’s the goal. Don’t blame Lady Gaga, SXSW or even Doritos. The consumer wants all the music that he or she desires — on demand, at a cost of zero or close to it — and we now live in that perfect world. It doesn’t feel perfect, though. At this year’s festival, historically a place of artistic idiosyncrasy, music labels were an afterthought and big brands owned the joint. Venues were decked out with a riot of corporate logos, and the conference’s legacy as a place where baby bands played their little hearts out to be discovered seemed quaint in a week in which Jay Z and Kanye West kicked it for Samsung, Coldplay headlined for Apple’s iTunes and Tyler, the Creator played a showcase for Pandora. This new order evolved because when music moved into the cloud, not much of the revenue came with it. CD sales are a fraction of what they once were, and the micropayments from streaming services have yet to amount to anything meaningful. It’s a grim state of affairs, but corporate America, in search of an elusive demographic, has been more than willing to fill the breach. Read the entire article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/17/business/media/a-new-model-for-music-big-bands-big-brands.html?_r=0

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