From The Plastic Hallway

“The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side.” -Hunter S. Thompson

The Candy Crush Model


"You've got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em” ~ Kenny Rogers

Gamblin’ Sam Teichman really cares about music. Sam does not play an instrument, and please don’t ask him to sing for you. He’s not even much of a gambler, but it was at a late night blackjack session on The Rock Boat where Will Hoge dubbed him Gamblin’ Sam, and so it stuck.

Teichman is the founder and organizer of the Leave A Lasting Mark concert series. The series pairs worthy causes such as the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, the Foundation For Fighting Blindness, and Food For Life with an incredible collection of 40-50 musicians, who perform classic albums, honoring influential artists and genres to raise money for charity at The Bitter End in New York City. The most recent event was a tribute to the music of 1985, and it raised thousands of dollars for MDS Foundation, an organization funding research for a bone marrow failure disorder. More info: https://www.facebook.com/leavealastingmark

These events in and of themselves are beautiful in their chaos – Teichman manages to wrangle dozens of performers, whom after one rehearsal, rally to pay a proper tribute to great songs. The money that is raised speaks for itself, yet I believe that Sam doesn’t do it for the money, or for any sort of attention or praise. He does it because he loves music, and believes in community building. The Leave A Lasting Mark concert series is an expression of optimism and the great potential of music as a rallying point. We at Noble Steed feel the same way, and are proud to be involved, proud to be working with Gamblin' Sam.

I’m also pleased to share that Teichman reads this blog, and sent me this article entitled “Streaming Music Is Ripping You Off” in response to my thoughts about streaming music: https://medium.com/cuepoint/streaming-music-is-ripping-you-off-61dc501e7f94

The article points to the profit model that streaming services use to monetize your use, or essentially your lack-thereof, of their service. The article also encourages consumers to stream independent music continuously at a low volume, in order to help indie acts compete and monetize their art. Also discussed – Volfpeck’s “Sleepify” - essentially a blank album that the band asked its fans to play while sleeping to help raise dough for the band’s intended tour. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sleepify

Really? Come on now. Hacks are not the answer. Shortcuts are not the answer. What the music business needs is a better mouse trap, one we build working together.

Together, like Tidal, like all of the superstar acts banding together to save the music biz? Nope. http://www.inquisitr.com/2150612/why-is-jay-zs-tidal-music-business-a-failure/

I’ve never spoken to anyone at Tidal. Neither had my former boss Daniel Glass of Glassnote (Mumford and Sons, CHVRCHES, Childish Gambino) at the time of this interview: http://hitsdailydouble.com/news&id=296581

Tidal is a pompous proposition, one that assumes that the current systems are not called for and that the wealthy artist elite know better what consumers want. Obviously wrong.

The answer lies in figuring out a better way to monetize streaming. Streaming works – people want to hear what they want, when they want to hear it. People want it on demand, in quantity with quality and without compromise (advertising).

Ok. I realize this is not the sexiest thing to admit, but I love Candy Crush. After a long day of trying to save the world through music, I enjoy few things more than turning my mind to airplane mode and lining up those little colored candies. I have not linked the game with my Facebook page, so you will not be receiving any invitations to play Candy Crush with me. Besides, I play the game to escape, not to connect with you, respectfully :)

Candy Crush is free. No cost to acquire the app. When you begin to play, the game rewards you with its local currency, again, for free. Playing more earns you a bit more of that local currency. The game stays free unless you are impatient and want more access. Then, you have to spend money to buy more local currency. It’s a model that works, just ask the people at the $2.2 billion dollar King Digital Entertainment company: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_(company)

So, why couldn’t this model work for streaming music? The app remains free, as is Spotify and Apple Music. Access is free, and remains free unless you want greater access: either a certain amount of overall plays during a finite period of time, or a certain number of plays of a certain song or album. What if you want to play “Uptown Funk” for the 10th time? Doesn’t it seem reasonable to pay to “unlock” that song? Want to play 5 hours of continuous music for your backyard BBQ? Doesn’t it seem reasonable to pay to “unlock” that playlist or to buy enough credits to play those songs?

If an application allowed for “in-app purchases”, then the royalties for those songs could more closely resemble the 70 cents per track we’re used to from paid downloads, and less resemble the insulting bullshit of $.007? per stream from the streaming services.

People won’t pay per credit, you say? Remember the jukebox?…

I recognize that there are flaws in my model, but we need to keep thinking about the situation and come up with innovative ways to address it. The music business is not sustainable at point-seven cents per stream. This much is clear.

- JLS

 © 2017 Noble Steed Music