Five hundred music business execs gathered today at the Digital Music Forum East conference in New York.
To read Nate Anderson's account in Ars Technica, attendees differed on the matter of the importance of record labels.
Sentiments were expressed that because the record companies do all this vetting before they sign artists and put them out there for the marketplace to decide on, that a built-in screening process involved in this vetting helps the music consumer save time by not having to wade through schlock.
Others at the conference seemed to say that between social media sites, direct download on artist-run sites, and music recommendation software, music consumers have oppty to make their own choices, around and apart from those made for them by label A&R folks and least common denominator focus-research driven radio station program directors and their consultants.
Despite the Venus-Neptune gap in those two viewpoints, Nate does identify some commonality among the camps in attendance at the event:
- DRM on purchased music is dead
- A utility pricing model or flat-rate fee for music might be the way to go
- Ad-supported streaming music sites like iMeem are legitimate players
- Indie music accounts for upwards of 30 percent of music sales
- Napster isn't losing $70 million per quarter (and is breaking even)
- The music business is a bastion of creativity and experimentation
The last point is correct, but IMHO primarily because of the social media and recommendation engine resources I've alluded to.
But the question must then be asked, if a growing number of recording artists sell their downloadable tracks or CDs from their own sites, can we refer to that activity as a new music business functionality?
Or, are such sales not so much "music business" as "band business," with bits that carry music?
What do you think?