Thinking about music, I read in the paper that Madonna is signing/has signed a new recording/publishing/performing contract with Live Nation. This (apparently) is a new sort of 360 degree contract featuring all musical output over a given period of time. In Madonna's cast it's for three albums - and about £15 million, a huge sum of money.
This makes me think about something Flo mentioned again the other day in a meeting - his theory that in the future all recorded music will be free, what people will pay for, and where the money will be is in the live experiences. The idea of this experience economy is not new, the book is sitting on my shelf (though if I am honest I only ever read the first and last chapters), but it is very interesting to see it coming to light in this way.
Of course this shift, while dramatic, is only truly apocalyptic for the music publishing houses themselves, who are going to have to adapt in a similar way, or rest easy in the sunset of their industry.
Perhaps another way the sidelining of the music industry will help the artists - at least the established ones - is in how Radiohead are selling their new album for whatever you want to pay for it. No need for a costly recording contract in their case, or to prop up a nationwide distribution, just sell it digitally, and directly to the listeners.
Now this is classic disintermediation (remember that - the promise of web 1.0) taking out all the Mr 10%s in the chain and just having a relationship direct with the band themselves. Assuming that these types of interactions form an exchange of value between the producer and the consumer, the consumer isn't likely to offer 1p in every case. They will offer a sum of money equal to the value they anticipate to derive from it. The word so far is that this is about £4.
The whole idea of it is very open source, in fact it is highly redolent of a hippy after-club in Leeds called Cabbage where if memory serves, you just paid whatever you wanted to for the tea.
This tipping concept is an idea that is widely used in software development. But it's not as commercially dappy as you might think. No artist today earns £4 on each CD that they sell, I think the figure is more like £1 after the record shop, record label, manager, fruit and flowers fund etc have all taken their cut. So in fact these guys have quadrupled their marginal return and reduced massively the initial outlay they have to make. Now that really is rock n roll.