Despite the mind numbing idiocy of labels suing fans for downloading a few songs, the fan/artist relationship has been the music industry's mantra for the last few years. How do we best create, nurture and of course monetize it. But how far have we really come? In a forward thinking essay Doc Searls writes in the Linux Journal:
"Yes, we can go to websites, subscribe to music services, use iTunes or other supply-controlled intermediating systems and deal with artists inside those systems. But there still isn't anything that allows us to deal directly, on our own terms, with artists and their intermediaries. Put another way, we don't yet have the personal means for establishing relationships with artists."
Searls only riffs on possible solutions. "It can't be limited to a browser. I want a button, or a something, on my MP3 player that allows me to relate not only to IT Conversations as an intermediary, but to the artist as well -- if the artist is interested. They may not be. But I want that function supported. What we need on the user's side is a tool, or a set of tools, that support both independence and engagement." (more)
Bold stuff. Maybe impossible. But somehow it gets past the clutter to the root question. How far do we really want to go to engage, listen to and learn from our audience?