Pick a song

I’m sitting in my apartment listing to Jason Mraz singing “I’m Yours” and it occurs to me that I “discovered” him in an unusual way, via this clip.

More recently I discovered Charlie Winston while sitting at an Italian restaurant in Paris, where I’d been speaking Italian with the waiters and the song “Tongue Tied” came on which begins;

Now’s my chance, here in France, I’ve gotta give it a go.
How do you say I’m happy ? Estoy feliz contigo ? No ! No !
Désolé mon français est un petit peu confus
Possible que tout le temps si j’essaie
Hablo poco spanish – another stupid english boy !

Which seemed so appropriate for my situation, but the album wasn’t yet out in the Netherlands so I kept checking and a month or so later finally bought it.

These aren’t part of any traditional marketing strategy, in fact both men have full websites providing pictures, videos, lyrics and all sorts of giveaways, they run their own blogs (Jason Mraz is very active on his) and have well constructed facebook fan pages (Jason Mraz has a healthy 2.6 million fans).

Both have understood the value of word of mouth marketing, and how to use online tools to leverage it, neither is using (at least not visibly) the machinery of the record labels. Yet they’re getting attention.

Much has been written about the changes in the music industry, the decline of the studios, the rise of the power of individual musicians and the changing ways of distributing music – including U2’s live at the Rosebowl concert which was broadcast live -and free – via YouTube.

But the problem of attention has remained, how can a new artist gain an audience without a studio promoting him? It’s one thing to load a clip to YouTube but more than 20 hours of video are loaded every minute so how does your clip get attention? How can you build a following? How can you reach people like me, who like music, listen to it a lot, but never go in a record store?

The music industry has been through a period of disintermediation – which means the people between Jason Mraz/Charlie Winston (the producers) and me (the consumer) have been removed. They’ve shown that they can still promote their music and get a following using internet/social media tools. A new model for “getting attention” is emerging. How long before someone spots the opportunity to create a new “intermediary” and start providing that service? Well it’s probably already started, and not by the old record labels.

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