You can count on one hand the number of blogs that seriously write about the music industry and when Hypebot started in 2005, Glenn Peoples' Coolfer.com was the standard by which I measured what I was doing. A lot has changed for Glenn in the last year and I wanted to see what was up and get his take on the current upheaval in the music industry. (Part II here)
HYPEBOT- There have been major changes in your life in the last year. Can you tell us about them?
COOLFER - Last fall I enrolled in the MBA program at Vanderbilt University. Going from independent distribution to business school was a big change. Right now I'm doing a summer internship for a major music company in New York, and I'll be back in Nashville in a few weeks for the second year of the program. Vanderbilt has been an incredible experience, very demanding but incredibly rewarding.
HYPEBOT - How have these changes affected your perspective on the music industry?
COOLFER - The only change in perspective on the music industry has been that I've been exposed to so many other industries. In some ways, music industry businesses seem more dysfunctional and undisciplined than ever. I certainly don't get the impression the greatest business minds of my generation are working in music. There could be some, though, but they're probably hamstrung by the tangled web of traditional business practices and complicated nature of recorded music. If the industry had an Economic Freedom ranking it would be somewhere between Libya and Iran.
HYPEBOT - What trends or recent developments in the industry worry you the most and which excite you the most.
COOLFER - There are a few worrisome trends. One is the availability of music. It's practically ubiquitous. When music lacks exclusivity, it loses its market value. This wouldn't be a worrisome trend if record labels were positioned for a response. They're not there yet. (continued)
The low cost of recording music could ultimately be a problem. Not only do many of the tracks sound poor today, but they will sound poor in the future. Their future value is harmed by today's need for music on the cheap. I often wonder if the music of the '00s is going to sound unbearable in 20 years as much of the music from the '80s sounds today.
As for positive trends, I like the possibilities in social networking and Music 2.0. There will be some incredible marketing tools in the future, and probably some good sales tools as well. I think the future is going to be defined by programmers nearly as much as those who sign, record and develop musicians. The best code will win.
I like that some ticket prices are going down, and Ozzfest, for example, is giving away so many free tickets. People need to get out and see live concerts more often. The emergence of so many regional music festivals may allow people to get out more. Music should be much more than background noise provided by an iPod.