i've been quietly networking to find a few folks to bring together into a "think tank" forum to brainstorm about newly emerging music business models. i'm convinced that the newer models won't simply see technology as means to market, but as an inherent part of the model itself.
but big ideas aren't enough. they also need to be monetized and sustainable. which is why i want to consider not only emerging models but also a methodology for taking concepts form the drawing board to the streets.
and more than anything, i want to see those ideas emerge out of nashville. it's going to take more than talented musicians, songwriters and artists. it's going to take a reframing of our ideas of "creativity." it's going to take a commitment from the chamber of commerce to see the importance of the developing tech community here. it's going mean we'll need to pull our heads out of our asses and realize that rather than trying to protect the status quo, we need to embrace the destructive power of chaos and let go of the safe and familiar.
i'm also convinced there are lessons to be learned from today's global digi-culture that has been growing exponentially over the last ten years. those of us with experience need to be mentoring the new movers and shakers, spotting new creative talent, giving them a fertile place to grow and test their ideas. and we need to be willing to learn something new, too. to realize that anything that moves us to a place of discomfort is a potential catalyst for our own evolution.
what prompted this forum topic is an article from the christmas eve edition of the new york times about a student project that seeks to, literally, find "the next big thing." it's elegantly simple in design. and already landed the students some venture capital to develop the idea further.
here's a short excerpt from the article, and the full story is available at this link.
For the ailing music industry, every new idea is a potential life-saver. Four classmates at Northwestern University knew this when they developed a Web site called The Next Big Sound (thenextbigsound.com) as part of an entrepreneurship class last winter. Inspired to think big, they designed a site part MySpace and part “American Idol”: a self-contained electronic stage where users vote on new, unsigned acts. “We want to help change the music industry,” says Alex White, 22, who graduated in June with a degree in education.
Registered users — it’s free to sign up — can act as “moguls” who scan through thousands of demos and show their approval by “signing” artists, though there are no actual contracts. Since the site opened in August, 2,000 would-be moguls have enrolled, making 9,000 signings. The more bands and moguls sign up, Mr. White says, the better it reflects people’s taste.
What sets their site apart from offerings on social networking sites is the principle of scarcity. On MySpace, users endorse acts by adding them as friends; emerging groups often tout their numbers as proof of popularity. But there’s no way for a record label to know how devoted those so-called friends are, since users can add unlimited numbers of bands. On The Next Big Sound, users can sign only 10; to support that 11th they have to drop a band, indicating a strong endorsement of their chosen 10. “If you get enough people doing that, the cream will rise to the top,” explains Troy Henikoff, who teaches the entrepreneurship course. As part of the class, students present their ideas to venture capitalists. The Next Big Sound got $25,000 in seed money.
so have at it. build on the idea. what do you think is brilliant? what do you think is bullshit? how would you make it better? does it give you ideas for another approach?
i thought it would be interesting to take more of a "laboratory" approach, having a freeform discussion that might lead to some interesting "ah ha" moments.
update: to those of you new to the discussion, there are some great thoughts here and certainly a lot of stimulating conversation. however, due to the nature of the coding for the forums, the reply "trees" can jump around a bit. this means that the discussion doesn't always flow chronologically (though you can easily see the date when posts were made.)
there's a lot of material here to wade through, but i'd encourage you to read first and then jump into the discussion.