Berklee Conference To Explore Music Industry’s Future

BOSTON — Some big names in music, including Lexington native Amanda Palmer, will be in Boston Monday night — but not for a show.

Palmer, her husband and collaborator Neil Gaiman, pianist Ben Folds and Damian Kulash of the band OK Go are here for the Rethink Music Conference, put on by the Berklee College of Music.

The hope is to bring together musicians, entrepreneurs, legal experts and others to figure out how the industry can adapt to a world in which many people just won’t pay for music.

We spoke about the conference with Christopher Bavitz, assistant director of Harvard Law School’s Cyberlaw Clinic, and Allen Bargfrede, a professor of music business at Berklee.

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  • http://twitter.com/refrshingapathy Rick Heil

    I heard this great report on the way in to work this morning on air, but I think both Chris and Allen have missed the reason why subscription music services haven’t caught on with a younger generation. I can think of three main reasons (hint: cost barrier isn’t one of them).

    For many people, the allure of torrent sites is the community formed around the music that just doesn’t happen when you go to the iTunes store. Digital subscription sites occasionally come closer to the older “friends in the record shop” model with shareable stations or playlists, but don’t quite nail it down.

    Secondly, quality: given a few minutes, any internet-savvy teenager can find any song in just about any lossy or lossless quality he or she could possibly want. From eMusic or iTunes? One, maybe two qualities. Granted, this is more of a push at the higher end (audiophile?) segment of the market, but it is one that most subscription services have ignored.

    Finally, P2P is easy and most of the time (to steal a line from Mr Jobs) it just works. Downloading unencumbered MP3 or FLAC files means you have the freedom to utilize your music in any way you can think of. Digital Rights Management (DRM) is an essential part to monetizing music, I know, but in a model catch-22 it prevents true music lovers from knowing their collection is safe should Apple decide to shutter the iTunes store.

    Some labels (Sumerian is one that comes to mind right away) are embracing a slightly improved model based more on touring revenue than the sale of recorded music – as was mentioned in the story, they use albums as a PR tool, even a loss-leader, to get people in the doors for a show. It will be interesting to see how the larger corporate giants of the Big 3 adapt (or fail to adapt) to the changing digital landscape.

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