Manifesto Fundamental: Artists Connect Communities

Community is the next fundamental of the Manifesto. One of the major differentiating factors of the new industry is the ability of artists to interact with others on a global scale. MySpace was a turning point for this - suddenly musicians had the ability to connect with their audience on a daily basis, build a fan base, and make contact with other artists. Free, simple and easy.

Artists have always been at the centre of networks, and their work has often found a key place within subcultures (think disco, goth, trance etc). The difference now is that artists are connectors on an even greater scale. The rise of social media has put artists at the heart of online communities - where their own participation is crucial to the establishment of their audience.

And audiences are developing an expectation that their participation and interaction with the artist will be valued. In the old industry, where fans would make contact hoping for a response from the band they admired, the artist had the ability to remain removed from their audience - connecting primarily through live performances. Contact was essentially one way, with the artist kept at a distance from direct interaction.

Over the past few years we have seen a dramatic shift in media from passive communication to one where anyone can be active and interact. Social media is based on communities of people involved in conversation. Some in the creative industries, such as Stephen Fry, understand this and invest heavily in building strong communities.

The new industry directly connects artists to their community. It's a powerful way of increasing feedback and building loyalty; for new artists, this power is priceless. Simon Curtis is a prime example of this - building up a community via social media alone that has resulted in tens of thousands of downloads of his material from people around the world. Hard to imagine that only a few years ago that level of exposure would have cost a label serious cash investment.

The fundamental of Community works in conjunction with the first of the Manifesto. If music is art, and artists connect communities, the key principle here is that an artist is defined by their ability to deliver their work to the world.

With creative production democratised, anyone can now make music. Technology makes it easier to output creativity - but this act of creation does not make an individual an artist. Only those with the bravery to ship their work to a community that respects what they have created can be termed an artist.

The ease of production and distribution means a high volume of music is being made - a fact that many musicians bemoan. Their fear is that more music on the shelf means their own work will not be heard or recognised. The Manifesto's fundamental of Community addresses this. Artists that make their own connections - with an audience, partners, and other musicians - and nurture them over time, will benefit. The days of the recluse artist reliant on big label marketing spend are over - the Community is critical to supporting an artist's work.


Manifesto Fundamental: Music is Art

The first of the six fundamentals of the Manifesto for a 21st Century Music Industry holds the central idea of the entire work. If we believe that "music is art" then we will be able to build an industry that is more exciting than the old one that has been crumbling over the past decade.

Music is art.

On the surface this seems obvious and irrefutable. Yet we tend not to think about music in this way. The industry has been working for decades to position music as a retail object.

What is art? It was Seth Godin's book Linchpin which helped me to finally develop clarity. His idea is that we can all be artists, indispensable creators, no matter what we do - and that as artists we create gifts. In the music industry, this is now more important than ever. Music has existed longer than capitalism. Human beings have always been inspired to express themselves through rhythm and sound. It is almost a basic need, found in every culture. Music is universal to the human condition.

Yet music has become a commodity. It's now a product, made by others, for purchase. There is no issue with the idea that creators of art should be rewarded for their work financially, but the intention of music's creation seems to now be focused around how much money can be made - not on the gift it brings to our society.

Something I often hear from musicians is that they are concerned about music being "devalued". This usually comes up when discussing giving away their music for free, streaming services, or people downloading tracks without paying for them.

My response is that value cannot be derived from a price tag. Music is so much more than a retail object. It creates change, inspires, makes us dance and cry. How can we then only feel validated as artists by the receipt of cash - by making what we have created into a product with a price point lower than a tube of toothpaste?

Music is art. You create it, and you give it value. It is not solely a commodity for your own commercial gain. A fundamental of the new music industry.


Manifesto for a 21st Century Music Industry

Here's something new from Gaymonkey. Something we're very pleased to be able to ship to the world ...

Over the past few years it has become clear that the biggest issue facing the music industry is not piracy. It's not the collapse of major labels, or the recession damaging retail sales. And it certainly isn't the public devaluing music.

The biggest issue facing the new music industry is that artists do not believe that they can make their careers happen. 

We know they can.

That is why we have put together the Manifesto for a 21st Century Music Industry. It outlines a vision for a direction for the new industry, and a way for artists to have ultimate control of their own careers.

The Manifesto sets out the Fundamentals of this new industry - the foundation of what must change to reposition the relationships within the business. We set out three key steps for artists to help them take control. And we bust some myths that pinpoint areas that are blocking artists from reaching their new potential.

The Manifesto is an ebook that is free for everyone to download. I'll use this blog to further delve into the key points that make up the book. And I'd love to hear your feedback - so please download, enjoy, share it - and let me know what you think.

The new industry is exciting, and our potential is now limitless. We just need to make it happen.