We inch closer. Something’s going on, and it’s starting to emerge. I’ve been prattling on about it for eons, but we’re starting – just starting – to see a big important shift in the music business that will move us closer to a workable system.
Yeah: labels, content holders, etc. are starting to realize that it makes sense to sell their content from everywhere, rather than limit it to a few online retailers (iTunes, Amazonmp3, etc.).
This is spurred on somewhat by the ability to reduce transaction costs.
Smart ones are (finally) realizing, you can’t create a community; they already exist. All you can do is identify them, and put your crap in front of them, and then – in the words of this dude – provide elegant organization.
All of a sudden, those who have given people a reason to show up â€” because they’re a trusted source/a filter â€” become real powerful.
I’ve been chronicling the development of the UStream chats we’ve recently been working on.
You gotta get on this action if you haven’t tried. Just build up your Tribe a little bit (you know: Twitter, FB, your blog) then start talking.
Think of it this way: you’re at a bar, you’re shooting the shit with someone, and you hit on a topic that makes you pause and say, “Do you have the other half of this locket?” In other words, you find that shared interest that tells you both you’re members of the same Tribe. That shared interest is a social object.
Often this is music or art of some kind; some obscure book, movie, record that you thought you and only you loved, and then you realize the person you’re talking to has the same appreciation of this…what…social object.
It’s not the thing – the thing doesn’t matter – it’s the fact that you are connected by this thing.
I remember so well my freshman year of college, having come from a cultural vacuum of epic proportions to a place where I wasn’t the only one who had a giant poster of this on my wall:
You think that seeing this poster on someone else’s wall didn’t bind me to this person? You think it didn’t lead to the formation of a Tribe? You think it didn’t lead to countless multi-guitar renditions of “Driver 8?” You think it didn’t lead to more album/merch/ticket sales for REM?
You think Chronic Town isn’t still a social object? This came across my Twitter transom the other day:
Now, I don’t know Mr. Kaplan personally, but a Tweet like this one certainly makes me want to know him, do some work together, etc. Again, it ain’t the object, it’s how it connects people.
So, building that Tribe allows you to then use UStream to create something approximating that space you inhabit when you’re at the bar shooting the shit. The conversation is sort of the meta social object. Hopefully others emerge during the course of the conversation. If they don’t, watch out. Something’s not right.
Of course, a UStream chat is not the same as being in a bar. But, if you approach it from the standpoint of markets being a conversation, it gets pretty darn close.
With our UStream deals we’re trying to have a conversation – speak in an authentic voice.
Think of it this way (paraphrasing Doc Searls), when an artist is selling a CD after their gig at a merch table, what (ideally) is that process like? Well, it should be a conversation. The person walking up to the merch table should end up conversing with the artist. At the end of the conversation what should happen? A purchase of the CD, merch, etc. So…markets are conversations, and the purchase is simply the exclamation point at the end. The CD that is purchased? The social object, of course. The punctuation at the end of our UStream conversations is when people go to the Artists House site and watch videos, etc. Oh, and there will be more ways to punctuate coming up soon.
I’m getting ready to dive into a new project for Wolfgang’s Vault where I’ll be putting my ass on the line to try and make this work for some of the most important music ever created. First steps: Identify some social objects and start conversations. More on this soon.
A lot here (or maybe a little). Disjointed. Sorry. Need to edit. Don’t feel like it (it’s a blog, not a scholarly journal for fuck’s sake).
I’m going to be talking about social objects on our next Artists House UStream broadcast. We’ll do this next Wednesday (the 18th) at a new time: 6pm central.
Here’s last week’s conversation. If you’re keeping score at home, we went from 50 viewers the first week, to 100 the second, to over 150 for this most recent one. Hells to the yeah.
I’m sort of consumed by the idea of the narrative in music. That is, it’s all connected, but these connections aren’t necessarily obvious. In fact, the best moments in musical discovery (as in most things) are sort of the aha moments when you become aware of a connection that doesn’t seem obvious, but, upon a second look, makes all the sense in the world.
A quick look at the top twenty (the entire list ranks the top 100) shows that Ms. Hersh is in good company. It also shows that great music transcends genre and other artificial parameters. While Wolfgang’s Vault currently tilts heavily towards “classic rock,” additions of sessions from artists such as Ms. Hersh and, of course, Daytrotter sessions (Ms. Hersh is there too), show that the brand is expanding.
What’s as important is that even as Wolfgang’s Vault’s offerings grow more diverse, their listeners are clearly not discriminating based on genre. Of course Ms. Hersh’s work should sit next to that of Ray Charles and Bob Marley and Miles Davis (#28) and Talking Heads (#29). Music fans have long known this. It’s only those “arbiters of taste” (radio station pds/owners, journalists, retailers) who have seen fit to lump music into categories that are supposedly more easily digested/understood (rule #1: don’t underestimate your customers’ intelligence).
What has heretofore eluded these so-called arbiters is this: listeners have an overarching desire to create connections and narratives, and to place their music into their own taxonomies that have nothing to do with genre or classification, but are instead based on emotional responses to music.
This is why attempts to recommend music (Pandora or Apple’s Genius) based on a song’s features (its genre, its bpm…whatever) ultimately fail. While these grouping systems are novel and sort of OK for creating background music playlists, they can’t possibly succeed in any real way because (as far as I know) they can’t measure the emotional response listeners have to music, and then locate other music that gives the listener an equivalent emotional response. Too bad.
The greatest…call them folksonomies…come from users making their own â€” ostensibly random, but deeply non-random â€” connections based on nuance and subtlety and things not easily articulated or measured. The sound of love, for example.
Don’t believe me, give me another rationale for this list:
And now, enough talking. Listen:
[Disclosure: I proudly do some work for Wolfgang's Vault and Daytrotter]