music business models

As I discussed in an earlier post, Kristin Hersh has been very innovative in developing a new business model for music production and distribution. This is an industry that is very much in flux, and it’s hard to tell what business model will end up being dominant. When I’ve talked about Hersh’s approach in my classes, one of the points that people have raised is that this is an approach that might only work for well-established artists. However, an article in the New York Times discusses a similar initiative and the band they use as an example is Metric, who are much less widely known (hat tip to Matt Yglesias for the post that led me to the story).

One part of the story that interests me is the discussion of Polyphonic, an organisation formed by the manager of Radiohead, along with a couple of other people. Their main objective is to facilitate the formation of direct links between musicians and listeners. To me, it still sounds like a new version of record labels, so I’ll be interested to see how it works out. I’m hopeful that some of the more bottom-up type approaches might work a bit better. One example is the organisation that Kristin Hersh is using to build these links – They have a mix of people that have been around and already have a fanbase along with artists that are newer and less widely known. Ultimately, I’d like to see music distribution more under the control of the artists – they’re the ones creating nearly all of the value here. But like I said, the industry is in flux so it’s hard to say where it will end up.


In the meantime, I’m currently listening to Martine Lund Hoel, who connected with me in a distinctively analog manner – she was playing on the street in Copenhagen, and she was so good that I bought her cd on the spot. So the story of the music industry isn’t entirely digital yet either…

Student and teacher of innovation - University of Queensland Business School - links to academic papers, twitter, and so on can be found here.

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5 thoughts on “music business models

  1. Interesting – I also had a similar experience with an excellent artist playing in the Staten Island (NY) Ferry Terminal – I asked here to out me on her mailing list so we shall see. ACES

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