Interview: Jared Moya, Chief Editor of ZeroPaid Pt. 2
This is the second half of my interview segment with Jared Moya (read part 1), who is currently the Chief Editor of ZeroPaid.com. In it, Moya talks about the merits of embracing chaos, the Great Reset in the music and record industries, and how new ways of working and living will drive the post-crash prosperity.
Putting forth the notion of embracing chaos, through and through, do you believe that so-called "music revolutionaries" won't be able to create more change than we as a society can imagine?
Jared Moya: I think it's always been the case that so-called "music revolutionaries" have been been able to create more change than we can imagine.
Let's not forget that in the late 1800s the music business was centered firmly around the sale of printed sheet music. It took the expiration of several key patents and the establishment of compulsory licensing for the boom in recorded music to begin. Even the advent of radio was seen as a threat to the music business since listeners could listen to music for free rather than have to pay to buy the album.
"All these fears were dispelled of course, and
the music industry adapted and grew like never before"
Digital distribution affords artists the chance to reach music fans on a global scale, providing them the opportunity to sell their works in the billions rather than the millions.
The only "chaos" that may prove too tough for the traditional music industry to handle is the fact that it needs to reinvent itself to stay relevant. Artists no longer need their physical production and distribution tools, and now need only their marketing skills and financial resources.
Why must artists embrace as much chaos as they can stand with new technology and let it transform their role as cultural creators rather than clinging to outdated notions of what it means to make art?
Jared Moya: Because it affects how they reach their audience. If they cling to an outdated delivery model then they risk alienating current and potential fans. Take, for example, the case of NIN frontman Trent Reznor. He acknowledges that "pretty much any piece of music you want is free on the Internet anyway" so he's done his best to connect with his fans.
Over and over NIN has given fans free album downloads in order to spur concert ticket sales that in turn lead to increased t-shirts or other merchandise sales, while simultaneously offering die-hard fans limited edition physical albums that include things like HD concert footage or are hand-signed by Reznor himself.
An artist is always free to work in obscurity, but the lack of fans and their resulting financial support will make creating art a difficult proposition in the long term.
Previously, artists had to hope and pray that the proverbial gatekeepers of music would allow them passage to the world of relevancy via their vast marketing and distribution machines. Digital distribution has changed all that, now giving all artists, great and small, the ability to reach music fans in all four corners of the globe with a few clicks of the mouse.
How will new ways of working and living, both in terms of artists and industry professionals, and new ways of organizing our industry, drive post-crash prosperity, and provide a foundation for growth and recovery, wherein, a brighter future can be forged for the record industry might exist in the digital age?
Jared Moya: I think we'll eventually see a reorganized industry that (hopefully) gives music artists greater control of their music and increased share of profits from sales. With the average musician reportedly making a measly $23.40 from every $1,000 in music sold, the digital age ought to be seen by artists as an opportunity and not a threat.
"The reorganized industry will have to be a better cooperation between creative talent and those industry professionals trying to monetize their work."
The digital revolution may just be the great equalizer that artists have long been looking for in a profession where even the great Sir Mick Jagger lamented that record companies "didn't pay anyone" when The Rolling Stones first started out.
Greats like Otis Redding, Chuck Berrys, and Fats Dominos were equally taken advantage of as well.
For the record industry to have a "brighter future" it must learn to partner with artists in a more equitable fashion and give them a greater voice in how best to reach their fans. Honest cooperation between the two will be vital to the success of the music industry.
Notably, the type of Great Reset that Richard Florida argues for in his book The Great Reset, is within a different context than the record industry, but as an analytic lens, might our industry be going through a "Great Reset" of its own?
Jared Moya: I think it is. With the advent of Napster back in 1999 we saw the beginning of a shift in the music landscape from physical to digital. The music industry, refusing to admit a "Great Rest" was taking place, made the huge blunder of suing Napster and hoping the problem would go away.
For years illegal file-sharing chipped away at its profits as music fans made the switch to a product record labels refused to offer (it's an argument that was successfully used in the case of accused file-sharer Joel Tenenbaum by the way). It wasn't until 4 years later in 2003 that the resulting decline in profits from P2P finally forced its hand as it gave the green light to Apple to sell digital music in its iTunes Store. Imagine if the music industry had spent those 4 years working on an iTunes of its own!
The current "Great Reset" has helped to bring about a shift in music consumption with limitless potential. The only problem is that of "scarcity" in that there is an infinite supply of the product. This means a shift in the supply curve is taking place for which the music industry must try and focus on that which it can control – demand. Until it solves this problem the lack of scarcity will undoubtedly lead to lower price points, thereby making it unlikely digital music sales will ever come close to that of the physical music sales era.
However, the increasing diversity of the music industry that digital music has helped to create has, at least in the case of the UK, allowed some markets to realize increasing overall revenues. There a combination of a growing live music industry, up nearly 10%, along with increased revenues from international licensing, advertising, and sponsorship deals helped the UK music industry grow by some 5% last year.
"How the dust settles is anyone's guess, but one thing is certain: artists and music fans will always be around."
Recorded music is a relatively recent construct that oftentimes had sinister relationship with both artists and fans, the former falling prey to unscrupulous contracts and record deals, and the latter to unrealistic pricing and overcharging.
Digital music has helped to realign that relationship, giving artists and music fans a greater share of control over the record industry than ever before. The creative talent behind the content and the consumers with their pocketbooks are now free to choose alternative transactions in ways never before dreamed.