Thursday, May 28, 2009

One Stop Pop Culture Shop

Where are they... The MediaBeatles? That team of new creatives who realize they don't need anyone but themselves to flip pop culture on its back. How long until the day of destiny dawns... that "ah ha" moment when an artistic alliance of composers, performers, videographers, writers, webmasters, game designers, blog jockeys and code monkeys unite to launch the net big thing? Care to hazard a guess?

Monday, May 18, 2009

The No-Age Music Movement

When is the last time an "old" new artist burst upon the scene? Not a previously successful artist with a new project, but an artist over the age of 30 with a first release. Go ahead... I'll wait.

Most of my contemporaries love to listen to the music of yesterday. It's a very pleasurable experience: steeped in nostalgia and devoid of challenge. I'm not ashamed to admit that I also like to revisit the classics from time to time but to be completely honest, I simply can't take too much of it. It's boring. I prefer hearing something unexpected, something captivating... something new. But why does "new" have to be synonymous with "young".

Yes, when Rock 'n' Roll began it was youth personified: one part energy, one part rebellion and one part sex... OK, maybe two parts sex. It was created by kids, for kids and let's face it... "adults" just didn't get it. Somewhere along the rocky road, however, all of that changed. Rock 'n' Roll never got old, and the generation that invented it never really grew up.

So, why are there no "old" new artists? The answer is simple... record companies won't allow it. Those corporate keepers of the gate who have, for too long, set the agenda, regulated radio and controlled the marketplace have repeatedly just said, "No!" How would they market it, and more importantly, how would record executives look hanging out with people their own age? Yikes! Still, there's good news, bad news and disturbing news.

The good news: record companies are dying fast! Digital music and the internet have conspired to dethrone the old guard and it's working.

The bad news: they aren't dead yet and they still have complete control of radio. Also, as they flail around in their dance of death, they can potentiality inflict a lot of damage through the reams of bad legislation they are lobbying for in Washington (check out

The disturbing news: None of the indie labels are doing much to break down Rock 'n' Roll's age barrier. There are lots of new artists getting exposure these days but virtually none over the age of 30.

It's time for a new movement in music... the no-age movement. A collective realization that music, even Rock 'n' Roll, has no inherent age. What we need is a mighty mass of music lovers, who don't care if a new artist is six or sixty, demanding choice. Oh, and one true indie visionary with the balls to say, "It starts here... it starts now!"

Sunday, May 10, 2009


Free? The answer may define the future state of creativity.

Music has become virtually free and while that has certainly broadened access and increased quantity... it hasn't done much for quality.

Newspapers and books are feeling the gravity of an expanding "freeconomy" right now, with no updraft on the horizon. The WSJ "Freemium" strategy, where basic content is free but premium content comes with a price tag, might work for a little while... but not for long. Consumers are already exhibiting symptoms of "subscription fatigue".

Ad models are currently being fashioned to try and fill the gap, but what will be the real cost to the consumer: The Mona Lisa... brought to you by Proactive? Seeking underwriting and soliciting public donations may be a piece of the puzzle... but as is the case with NPR and PBS, each year the pledge drives grow and the revenues shrink.

As monitors get larger and less expensive, and internet access gets faster and cheaper, the movie industry will see an inevitable "free fall" as well.

A storm is building, and it's a big one. The winds of change have already begun to blow down the structures of artist compensation. Soon, the rains of creativity which nourish us all, will be completely free... and maybe they should be. Perhaps it's time we turned our attention towards finding a way to monetize the clouds.