Saturday, June 10, 2006

These Days, We're ALL "Indies"

Larry LeBlanc's Billboard article "Canadian country acts go indie route" got me thinking about what Pat Green accomplished on his own in Texas, whether signing with a major label will prove to be worth it for him in the longrun and how so many "wanna be's" in many countries are going "the indie route" these days thanks to major label consolidation.

Could be, in the next decade or sooner, we will ALL be going 'the indie route.' In truth, you don't need a tower and antenna to broadcast your "show" today, if you're willing learn now to to draw a monitizable audience. Over on the music side of the business very few majors want to sign anything they have to develop. They make quasi-distribution deals with labels of all stripe and then cherry-pick. As a result most acts are flying by the seat of their pants trying to tour and stay alive. I wrote LeBlanc to congraulate him on the article and he wrote back: "...Meanwhile, we have a singer/songwriter from Nova Scotia Dave Gunning making more money than them all. He's sold 10,000 copies of his current album and opens often for his buddy George Canyon and...get this..INXS because the singer JD Fortune is also from Picou Country where Dave and George are from. The upcoming George Canyon LP is darn good and the Carolyn Dawn Johnson's is amazing. Yet neither have US label deals athough their managers are in Nashville."

Looking at radio's crystal ball, I think online testing of new music of all sorts will become imperative because in a PPM world we won't be able to do anything that's unfamiliar or too edgy. The cost in audience will be immediate and negative, yet we must find a way to open the doors and windows to somehow test new things with people who love them, expose them on our side channels and on the internet and then put the best ones once we know they work in advance on analog radio. Ultimately, we'll all be internet broadcasters, making us all 'indies' eventually.

I shared these thoughts with KMPS, Seattle, MD Tony Thomas who says he "just got Tivo's latest upgrade with "Product Showcase." You tell them what you're interested in and they push - only if you want, and only a few - short videos from sponsors to a special folder. Do I want to watch a video on what's new at Disneyland? Yup. Trailers for new animated kid's movies? Yup. C-NET reviews of new Tech gizmos? Yep. And pondering how listeners might discover new music, another thing to note happening in video with Tivo - "Guru Guides." I have the option of having show picks from various experts automatically recorded to my Tivo box, IF I so choose. So, if I'm not sure what the hip things are to watch, I get can get an assist. Or not - my choice.

Thus, I think Thomas is right when he states "it's ALL about IP. And being able to listen/view/interact on whatever device I want to use," making artists, broadcasters and listeners ALL 'indies,' creating, distributing and seeking out the most magnetic content, one connection at a time.

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