Following on from the discussion recently over the models for funding of new music in a culture of "free", at both Simon Jones and Nick Tann's blogs, there's been a couple of interesting stories the last few days:
The Root has an interesting stats breakdown on how much musicians make in a traditional distribution model, and looks at a Neilsen report that makes pretty grim reading - both in terms of sales and in the numbers of new albums being made.
Only 2.1 per cent of the 97,751 albums released in 2009 – or about 2,050 unique titles – reached the 5,000 sales mark. And that 97,751 is down from the 105,000 new releases that came out in 2008.
But all is far from lost. This week in New York is the New Music Seminar, where musicians and folks involved in the new music distribution industry get together to share success stories and come up with strategies for making it in the "next music business".
One of the best sites I've come across for keeping up with developments in the whole area of music distribution in a digital/social media environment, is Sandbox.
They have an interesting story today about the teen appeal band McFly whose record company is launching a monthly subscription service - I guess a step further than the common fan club set-ups, which usually have a one-off payment and give the member priority ticket ordering and various other benefits.
Obviously there are different approaches in dealing with that sort of younger fan base, where you might have a shorter window for connecting with and monetizing them, but it will be interesting to see what Island will include as benefits, as well as what sort of revenues and member numbers they can generate off this scheme.
I still think established artists and labels are missing a trick, but that's further down the road..
Sandbox also pointed me towards this nice piece from the New Yorker I'd missed earlier in the year about Suzanne Vega and how she has been reclaiming her back catalog by recording acoustic versions of her own songs, while at the same time her career has brought her back full circle to life as an independent artist.
And on the subject of artists taking control of their musical histories, there was a story in The Guardian about Fugazi planning to put an archive of "hundreds of live shows" online as a possible prelude to a reunion tour.
Bruce Hornsby, Paul Brady and other acts have shown that there is definitely a market to be embraced among existing fans for digital recordings of artists' archive shows, and it might also be that there's a chance of reaching a whole new audience as well.
Now, I have a huge number of bootlegs I made in the early 1980s. Where's the cassette-to-USB converter...?
After the good news for his hometown the other day, it looks like Derry's own Feargal Sharkey could be in line for elevation to the House of Lords, according to the Daily Mirror (subsequently rehashed by The Guardian).
Since he stopped performing, Sharkey has, perhaps ironically, been a figurehead for the corporate side of the British music industry as CEO of UK Music.
And of course the Mirror, in one of it's typical anonymous quotes, manages to work in the title of an Undertones song, "It's Going To Happen". (Incidentally, the first web version of the story had the headline "My Peerfect Cousin" - not bad, but maybe they thought it was a bit obscure, so ended up going literal.)
Finally , a singer-songwriter I've liked a lot since discovering him a year or so ago is Ben Glover. Here's a new video of him performing "Grounded" at McHugh's in Belfast.
He's playing a gig at one of my old haunts, The Bedford pub in Balham - of course, it's a bit more classy now than when I used to go there - on Wednesday July 28. If you're in London, please go along and check him out, you won't regret it.