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Guest Post: Why The Band As A Startup Model Doesn't Make Sense


From Hypebot to the New York Times, a lot of attention is being given to the emerging artist as a start-up business model with Cabdain indie rock band Metric used the most visible example of the trend.  But to Sean Adams who founded Drown In Sound and is a regular columnist for London's Sunday Times, the start-up analogy doesn't quite fit.  This post first appeared on his Sean In Sound blog.

Drowned In Sound - Sean Adams Been pondering this bands as start-ups concept too but I have a huge problem with it. Been curious about the reactions to the NYT piece, especially as I was the guy who released Metric's previous record 'Live it Out' in the UK. They're an interesting example which kinda breaks this bands as a start-up concept into disperate red herring puzzle pieces.

My main issue is that start-ups and hyped new bands, both work on the premise of hope and potential, whereas any tried and tested company or band, has a quantifiable ROI (return on investment). This is problematic because the media is not that interested in bands or websites/tech which aren't brand new (as Metric weren't when we released their record, despite outselling the Gossip week on week until the NME cool list, etc) or massively successful. It's always a headscratcher when a band changes their name (like the Kaiser Chiefs did) or a website relaunches as something totally different, that it leads to press, which leads to other media coverage.

The economics (and perhaps ego-nomics) is all sorts of illogical when things are run on and driven by promise (see also: the banking crisis). All sense of scale is totally lost when people invest or talk about future projects, which is obviously what makes the world go around but at the cost of everything great that falls in the huge canyon between the stools of the new and the established. It's incredibly easy to miss a window of opportunity or jump the shark too early (often leading the charge for a lesser copyist), whilst for some reason never being allowed a chance to shine. I'm always fascinated at the different ways things worked when hits were slowburners or how books become paperback bestsellers from all the hardback praise (which I guess is kinda how imports or poor performing initial re-release get a massive second wind).

Without wanting to doom-monger: Metric's continued success isn't down to biz models and is in part down to consolidating all the great things they've done in the past (especially Emily Haines' solo album which opened various different doors) and the fact they've made a friggin' great record, during a window of time when there aren't a great deal of great records and less and less brand new major label bands. Yet, the fact Fantasies (much-like Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix) was overlooked in the UK in favour of the likes of electro-fronted ladypop from La Roux and Little Boots (who was once in a band named after a Metric track) or long-deadstars like U2 and Oasis speaks volumes about the state of the media and its problems which are more at the stagnant heart of the poor sales of records, much more than p2p.

Metric may have done better with this record but it's far from the best case scenario, they're still playing similar sized shows (billed exactly the same place on the Reading bill) but slowly starting to get a few mainstream breaks which might help them crossover in the states.

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