The Luddite (Lud-dite; ˈlədˌīt/) movement began in the vicinity of Nottingham, England, toward the end of 1811 when textile mill workers rioted for the destruction of the new machinery that was slowly replacing them. Their name is of uncertain origin, but it may be connected to a (probably mythical) person known as Ned Ludd.
This is the first in a series of essays by Stephen C. Love:
“Re·sound·ing” Music: Connecting The Dots to Upend the Music Business
So, it was 2005 and I was disgusted about the ongoing dearth of imagination being exhibited by the music industry. No, not the Artists and Songwriters, but the frightened executives. Digital distribution of rich content was clearly on the horizon, but the music, film and televison industries were responding with mostly futile attempts at watermarking and other digital rights management (DRM) schemes. Today, the Digital Millenium Copyright Act’s “safe harbor” provision is a remnant of the myopic thinking and a main focus of the arguments with You Tube’s licensing policies.
The vision for EYM (enableyourmusic.com, a joint venture with mp3.com), my startup of 2000, was to semi-automate the process of music synchronization licensing to make it efficient for music creators and film, television and video creators to find each other’s opportunities. Its prescient mandate was to focus on the best of the untapped mp3.com creative community. Alas, it was too early to gain any significant traction to sustain a business in what was then a nascent field of monetizing emerging artists and songwriters — a concept that is still to be borne out, perhaps with the Spotify acquisition of Soundcloud (I was flattered to hear that aspect of the deal called “revolutionary” some fifteen years after I introduced it).
We then created Attentus Digital Music System in 2004 and went on to lead the industry with the education of FremantleMedia about the need to relicense (Free TV to digital distribution) all the source music used over the six seasons of “Baywatch.”
Over the ensuing years, the music industry’s only consistency has been its inconsistent and reluctant adaptation of change. The business at large, much like the Luddites, continues to sabotage its future in exchange for the near term employment of its incumbents. Labels license their catalogues to DSP’s in a dizzying array of self-serving schemes from positions in the platforms to enormous advances often not shared with the artists and writers. The industry has always played “follow the leader,” with the leader oftentimes directionless (think “Three Blind Mice”) and is now particularly ripe for complete disruption.
The lemmings mentality has resulted in an embrace of streaming as the au currant elixir of choice. MusicWatch and other sources confirm that there is plentiful proof that piracy remains rampant, the traditional acquisition/ownership model will not entirely give way to access and that this method will not equitably compensate creators as presently modeled.
It follows that if streaming is meant to be the industry’s solution, of course curating playlists is now de rigeur as the modern day replacement of terrestrial and satellite radio’s institutional playlists. It’s commendable that some emerging artists are included with the current looming and prevailing hits, but where is the consistent introduction to the younger generation of the seminal music which much of today’s work emulates?
Connecting The Dots…
During my daily run the other day, I was shuffling through some of the Elton John catalogue on Spotify when I was reminded that my entire career in music has been motivated by his genius (as I mentioned in an earlier post). I had just reviewed the Top Hits playlist and naturally found myself comparing Elton’s mastery (continuing into his newest work) with that of the younger generation of “artists,” while pondering why he wasn’t still on the Hits Lists. I thought that it was beyond idiotic for an A&R rep not long ago to urge him to record an album of Christmas songs or to cover Motown rather than encouraging more original material. From introspection to his live uptempo celebrations, I found my own spirit elevated from the stress that had furtively become commonplace, and all due to the revitalization of emotion embodied in Elton’s virtuosity (complemented by his extraordinary longtime band, including original members Nigel Olsson and Davey Johnstone, and producers and arrangers along the way like Gus Dudgeon and Paul Buckmaster) that quality music is designed to evoke.
To some extent, Socially Driven Music (SDM) in late 2016 begins as the reverse engineering of EYM, in that its music talent pool is derived from a diverse universe of its own creation rather than a single source such as mp3.com. It is an artist-centric company with a mandate to not only recognize the music industry quandaries (as many observers do) but, more importantly, to bring elegant solutions to market as its Value Proposition. SDM’s global model is an amalgamation of the music and related industry’s most forward-thinking concepts combined with its own visionary perspective. It is the facilitation platform and junction where the best music marketing and distribution ideas come to be tested and integrated, continually informed by smart industry *thinkers such as David Pakman, Cherie Hu, Mark Mulligan, Vickie Nauman and Courtney Harding, among others.
…is a proprietary, “Full Stack,” Internet-Based, worldwide system for the discovery, cultivation, marketing, distribution, and monetization and administration of music artists, song and recording copyrights. SDM’s core focus is on procuring and bringing value to copyrights. (The corresponding importance of controlling licensing administration is key to resolving the inability of potential licensees to obtain proper permissions, which is one of the industry’s largest pain points.) Socially Driven Music is about delivering an egalatarian reality (largely propelled by social media, and as an extension of access combined with the previous ownership model — the latter, which SDM concurs with MusicWatch about not being completely replaced) to what has historically been an unbalanced, unhealthy celebrity hierarchy.
Fueled by technology that wasn’t available to us in its earlier iterations, SDM’s innovative model is designed to expand and complete what we envisioned years ago. Using advanced analytics, SDM has devised an elegant funnel system for the procurement of talent through the deployment of fans and super fans as grassroots ambassadors/advocates. Moreover, our Musicpreneurs and fan communities are connected to artists and songwriters on a much more visceral “Super Fan” level than ever before possible through use of geo-demographic data to initiate loyalties within different locales not unlike the enthusiasm generated by sports teams.
What else distinguishes the company? SDM takes the lead in recognizing fungibility as the driver of multimedia distribution. This concept is a large part of our core, multi-faceted solution and Value Proposition. This exploitation of the often interchangeable and untapped, sometimes nascent avenues of music distribution will result in virality and a return to greater earning potential. Of course, we are all the while fully engaged in helping to effect change in the arcane and outdated laws and regulations dictating recording and publishing royalty distributions. In its fully rolled out model, SDM offers an alternative to the historical record company distribution and royalty schemes which not only does not hold artists as its first priority, but is quaintly one-dimensional in an era of 3-D Printers and VR.
Examples of SDM’s “Disruption” of the existing music industry are its creation of a new Social Relationship Platform/Predictive Analytics/Customer Relationship Management-based infrastructure for the development of artists and songwriters through connections to prospective fans; an intrinsic social impact program that is baked into its DNA; the embrace of Artificial Intelliegnce technology for more efficient sync licensing; utilization of live streaming, 360 Video, Virtual Reality and evolving of fashion-tech for imaginative fan interaction and retention; adaptation of Blockchain-based concepts for the transformation of aniquated royalty and licensing methods to real-time transparency and “smart contracts;” distribution of music and its ancillaries (including merchandise) through under-realized outlets; expanding reach through Podcasts and Over The Top (OTT); employing Advanced Messaging (Slack, etc.) for a global team; and much more. And driving all of the above through connecting communities of social causes with Artists with whom there is a shared passion. Music is all the more effective while impacting social good.
So, back to Elton. SDM is designed to work with emerging artists and songwriters, but is also determined to provide the guidance and tools necessary for Legacy Artists and Writers to reemerge. Think of the latter as analogous to Peter Thiel espousing Parabiosis for older people to thrive long past existing norms. In this case, the lifeblood is not the younger generation, but the regenerated imagination inspired by new technology. Further, in addition to re-engaging older demographics, there is vast potential in introducing this demiurgic music to next generation music fans (Tweens) through platforms such as Musical.ly.
“Desert Trip,” the Coachella Fest in October 2016 for older demographics, is a visible recognition of the continuing viability of legendary music artists and the craving of their fans for more. The analyses that postulate about an “aging” audience only wanting to recreate memories in the context of being offered cushy amenities is completely missing the mark. And while “Golden Voice,” the producers of the program, have been insightful to recognize a void in the market, they fail to appreciate the immense potential of helping to parlay successful careers and introducing these Legacy Artists to the younger generations.
The “Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Fame” is one of the richest individual collections of seminal music and a vibrant source of music diversity and important history. Socially Driven Music is dedicated to assisting these artists (or estates) and prospective inductees in reestablishing contact with their fans and creating new audiences amongst the younger generations who are likely to be just as captivated. The same holds true for songwriters who are not recording artists but provide the panoply of emotions for the singers to interpret. Many of these writers are now independent, viable as ever, and creating brilliant copyrights awaiting placement into the ideal media distribution. In addition to cultivating and marketing emerging artists and songwriters, SDM’s mandate is also to renew the careers of those established artists and writers whose artistry will live on well after this week’s music charts are irrelevant.
SDM has been created as a solution to the most daunting music industry problems of today. It deliberately fills a void while providing an exit strategy for its investors as glaringly obvious as was the analogous creation of Jet.com for the acquisition by Walmart or Dollar Shave Club by Unilever. The Executive Summary, Pro Forma and Pitch Deck are now ready for review from interested strategic partners and investors. Artists and writers are invited to add their names to our Beta list that can be found on our placeholder website. In the meantime until launch in early 2017, please offer your comments and join us on the plethora of social media. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stephen Love, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and President, Socially Driven Music, was one of the co-architects of the legendary ATV Music Group (publishers of the Lennon-McCartney catalogue) where he served as Executive Vice President, Worldwide. His career includes EVP Music, Worldwide, at Carolco Pictures, All American Television and Pearson Television (Fremantle). Long considered a big thinker and visionary, he has extensive experience in music publishing creative, royalties and overall administration, Film and TV supervision, and negotiation of composer, artist and soundtrack agreements for dozens of productions, as well as being adept at negotiation of all synchronization and master use licenses.
*With appreciation for the thought, analyses and musings of many music industry and other thinkers who add invaluably to the efforts to transform the dysfunctional music industry, including Jonathan Shecter, David Pakman, Andy Raskin, vickie nauman, Cherie Hu, Mark Cuban, Mark Mulligan, Benji Rogers, Cortney Harding, Ari's Take, Paul Graham, Paul Cantor, Rob Mitchum, George Howard, allen bargfrede, Panos Panay, Larry Kim, Chris Messina, Glenn Peoples, Pete Cashmere, Gary Vaynerchuk, Jesse Kirshbaum, Paul-René Albertini, Sharky Laguna, et al.