Conventions & Awards

Tommy Silverman: “Hobbyists… Clutter The Music Environment With Crap.”

Over at Wired, there's an intriguing interview piece where the ever curious Eliot Van Buskirk talks with Tommy Silverman, founder of Tommy Boy Records, about "What’s Wrong With Music Biz."  As expected, there are some rather controversial things said in relation to what it means to "break" an artist in the music industry these days, and it leaves the reader to question whether or not Silverman's criteria match that of the emerging musical middle class dynamic. Silverman also shares his own interpretation of how Chris Anderson's theory of the long tail has played out in the record and music industries.  But, those things aside, it is a great introduction into Silverman's unique view of the industry.

"image from[Hobbyists]… those are the people who are using TuneCore and iTunes to clutter the music environment with crap, so that the artists who really are pretty good have more trouble breaking through than they ever did before."

Silverman also co-chairs the New Music Seminar which begins next Monday, July 19th in New York City.

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  1. I think the most relevant point in the ‘What’s Wrong With Music Biz’ article was the last couple of sentences:
    It doesn’t matter how you do it — the point is, if you’re doing what you love, and you’re your own boss running your own company, playing your music for a living and making more than you’d probably be making in a job, what could be better than that? That’s the definition of success.
    That’s what all us ‘hobbyists’ are trying to do is it not?

  2. This is a spurious argument at best. Yes there’s lots of music being released. But with music blogs and word-of-mouth spreading on Facebook, Twitter and all over the internet I find it’s easier than ever to get my music heard.
    Musicians have all the tools necessary to find their audience and get their music in front of them. We may need to acquire different skills than we did in the past. But if we do, the internet has opened up the direct pathway to reach our fans and gain new ones.

  3. Tommy is right. Music is just so lame anymore and full of crap. I wouldn’t call it “hobby” but just bad music.
    We need more trustworthy sources. Problem is nobody takes advice from anything said on the internet.
    Sad times for music until piracy gets under control.

  4. He’s only crying because he’s losing his ability to assert authority as a gate keeper and losing millions ripping off artists. The power shift is swinging back towards the consumer and the artist. Some people want to be told what music they should like or what is good. But what’s wrong with people deciding for themselves what they think is good and being able to go and buy it? What if that music isn’t on the charts or world famous? The only trustworthy source anyone should need is their own ears.

  5. There are two types of music good and bad.
    Greater choice does not increase or decrease the ratio.
    We might see the death of the hit so be it.
    Music is and will always be a personal experience.
    If Tommy wants to be relevant he should start to think about how create filters to discover the good stuff and weed out the bad stuff.

  6. he needs to watch the Frank Zappa interview on your tube about the music business. The Gatekeepers are the reason we have so much crap out there, not because of the hobbyists. The majority of the releases sell fewer than 50 copies of anything, making them by and large irrelevant. Radio play is up for the highest bidder or most common denominator and even services like Pandora, Last Fm etc are impacted by the search engine protocols. The bottom line, musicians need a team of folks to help them do all the work. So what, in the end it should be about the music, the fact that we are using new technology and new business methods is all part of the changes that the music business has undergone and survived, since Bach was gigging with the emperor.

  7. Change in the music industry is going to keep happening, regardless of whether anyone likes what it is doing to their business processes or not.
    Embracing the change is the deciding factor on whether you succeed or wither away with the other 98%. There really is no room left in the music business for those that are still left holding on to outdated business models. I’ll be addressing change management in the music business at my upcoming keynote presentation at the Future Music Forum in Barcelona in September (
    To be honest, with so much opportunity, tools and technology available to independent musicians right now, why shouldn’t anyone have a go at making music? Get in the corridor with what you have, you’ll likely discover some great talent, partnerships and new friends. Sure there’ll be a lot of casualties along the way, but Edison failed 5000 times before he finally invented the light bulb.
    Creativity should never be stifled, and the opportunities we have today present us with the ability to participate in the music arena more than we have ever before. More power to the independent artist…

  8. Hobbyists? I thought it was the major labels job to flood the world with crap!
    Look, if you want to know about good music, stop searching and start listening to what I tell you to listen to.
    Problem solved! [lol]

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