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Music in the Digital Age

January 3, 2012

I recently met Andrew Dubber (surely that can’t be his real surname?), a Birmingham based ‘Music industries academic, Online music consultant, Blogger’.
His website, New Music Strategies, is well worth keeping an eye on for anyone interested in developments in the music industry in this post-record-label age.

Andrew has just released a new book all about the newly emerging business structures and marketing paradigms for musicians in the brave new internet-based world. It’s available in pdf, mobi or Epub formats. It’s entitled Music in the Digital Age and you can find it here:

Book cover

Interestingly, he’s made it available in a manner that is increasingly common among musicians (on sites like Bandcamp) but not so among publishers. It is available on a name-your-own-price basis, with no minimum.

He says this:

‘It revisits, develops and comments upon my free ebook The 20 Things You Must Know About Music Online – but also goes into greater depth about the nature of online media and the ways in which popular music culture and popular music commerce work in the new technological environment.

‘I invite you to download the book as it stands so far – and I will be adding to it and updating it every few weeks throughout the course of the year. I hope you find it helpful and interesting. That, at least, is what I’m aiming for. All the best, Dubber ‘.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. January 3, 2012 8:21 pm

    Hmm. not convinced Vince. Downloaded if for free cos I could. Skim read in about 30 mins. recommended price of $7.99 would make the book 10p a page! So that seems pitched high to get to somewhere around £2.50. Though dubber admits its more of a blog than book, so why would you pay that much even?

    Some bits and my snide comments

    ere’s this widely held idea that music is this pure and natural
    expression that happens creatively and artistically among
    human beings, and then commerce comes along and corrupts it
    all. I say that’s obvious nonsense.

    – Good. I’m bored with the argument that says record labels are a corrupting blip in the history of music and before that it was all free and people dancing around maypoles…

    But don’t forget: you can still walk into a shop and buy sheet
    music – it’s just not the main way in whi music is produced
    and consumed anymore. is is a shiing of ratios, not a ‘death
    of’ anything. Not even CDs.

    – Oh so record companies still do exist, good. It’ll be a pity if the ratio of trained orchestral musicians to ‘producers’ fresh off a youth music summer course falls too dramaticaly.

    Leing fans oose what they want to give you.
    Sometimes it will be nothing.

    – in exchange for my free download I’m giving you these free comments, as is predicted.

    ere’s no right answer here, and I’d encourage you to experiment.
    I happen to think that there’s a sweet spot for most albums
    at around the US$5 / UK£3 mark, whi encourages people to
    contribute because it’s a small price to ask.

    – Just helped produce an album at rock bottom cost for £6K. This would need around 3000 downloads at £3 inc income tax element to just cover those costs. It’d be a tough ask still and a huge gamble. So musicians need to be gamlers too?

    In other words, the way to make money in the music industries
    in the digital age is to simply do what works.And “what works”
    depends on who you are, what you do, what sort of music you
    make, your audiences, what they like to do, and so on.

    – Too expensive to work out what works sometimes.

    In the end, the most important thing is not the website, nor the
    selection of social media platforms that you use, but the quality
    of the conversations that surround the social objects that you
    share through a process of making music and puing it out into
    the world

    – So to be a succesful musician you have to be a socially rounded nice person too. The Schaffer play/film Amadeus was something about that wasn’t it?

    To post or not to post, that is the question.

  2. January 3, 2012 8:44 pm

    Hi Seb.
    I think you’ve missed his entire point !

  3. January 3, 2012 10:51 pm

    Thanks for downloading Sebastian. Appreciate you giving it the attention that you did and the commentary’s useful, because it indicates some areas I need to work on clarity.

    First, it’s not more of a blog than a book. It’s a book in progress. It’s not 70 pages long, but 70 pages so far. When it’s finished, it will be longer – and it will be finished.

    I don’t ask musicians to be gamblers. Entrepreneurs, perhaps – but sensible ones. If the sole purpose of recording an album is to make money (it isn’t, but let’s go with your central premise), and it costs £6k to record an album, and you doubt your ability to recoup that, in what way is recording an album a good idea?

    If there are other reasons to record an album, factor that into your calculations as well. Don’t start with “well, we have to make an album – so how much will we have to charge so that the 100 people who will give us money for it will cover our costs?” Start with “what are we trying to achieve, what are the economic realities, and what are the alternative options open to us?” Nobody HAS to record an album.

    With regard to Amadeus – do you know, I’ve never actually seen the film. However, I kind of know the story – and if the film was in any way accurate, then Mozart and Salieri weren’t getting cross-collateralised advances, making albums, sourcing remixes, shooting videos, doing Live Lounge sessions at Radio 1, in-stores at HMV, DJ sets at Fabric or playing the main stage at Glastonbury either. Quite a lot of other things have changed about what it is musicians do these days – I’d venture that having conversations with other human beings without having to wait for the postman scarcely registers on the ‘what’s my job now?’ scale.

    Hope you enjoy the book – and find just as much to wrestle with – as it grows.


  1. The Conversation starts here…. | Angel Dust Records

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