I’ve been thinking about bloggers, blogging, memes, and this entire ecosystem from a macro-POV over the past few days. What caused me to think about it… I’m not sure, but nonetheless, I’m down the path and wanted to throw a few ideas out there.
In early 00s, I spent enough time in the music industry to understand the problems that we hear about everyday. Essentially, the music industry for the most part, relies on the ‘hit’ model, which means that a small portion of their artist roster generates enough revenue to cover the entire roster. (You can also draw a parallel to venture capital, publishing, and other industries)
Because the few chosen artists (signed to major labels) are promoted in such a way that exaggerates their excessive lifestyle, many, many artists (bands) want to be signed to a ‘major’ label because they believe that the clout, promotion, advances, and contacts that the label has within the market will help them to become rock’n’roll hall of fame inductees. Generally, this doesn’t happen. Even signed to a major label doesn’t guarantee you success, it even doesn’t guarantee that they will release your upcoming album.
Musicians use instruments in their craft. These instruments are pretty much worthless without someone playing them. A Fender guitar is nothing but a few strings, some solid wood, and a few screws/glue/etc holding it together. It’s the artist behind the instrument who brings value to the instrument.
In the blogosphere, the platform is the instrument. Whether you have chosen to use TypePad, WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, or any other blogging platform, it’s worthless without someone (or multiple people) behind it producing content. The content producer is the artist (or musician in this instance). There are a handful of blogs that generate 80% of the buzz (TechCrunch, ReadWriteWeb, Ars Technica, Silicon Alley Insider, VentureBeat, Gizmodo, Engadget, paidContent, Between the Lines, GigaOM, A VC, The Social, TechDirt, etc) but there are millions of blogs who exist as well…
Using the blog/music analogy, the 20% of the blogosphere that generates 80% of the revenue are the blogs signed to major labels. What are these major labels in relationship to the blogosphere? Examples are Federated Media, UTA, WMA, and any other high profile blog representation services. Google Adsense and advertising networks are generating revenue for blogs of all shapes and sizes (majority of the long-tail) and I attribute this to the similarities of CDBaby/Amazon and other online merchandise retailers for the music industry however they are doing it in a passive way.
The music industry has the radio, which helped create hits across the globe. Whether you were a one hit wonder like Marcy Playground (I loved those guys) or a multiple-platinum seller like Coldplay, the radio certainly helped bring their music to the masses. In the blogosphere, you’ve got major influencing sites like TechMeme, TechCrunch, and BoingBoing (amongst others) who help drive traffic that potentially create an opportunity for your blog to transition into the pro-blogging space.
We all live the dream, some to play at MSG in front of 15,000 screaming fans, or a direct link to one of my postings from Robert Scoble, but it’s almost impossible to attain.
Thinking about the business model for bands, you’ve got a few ways to monetize yourself: sell music, sell merchandise, sell concert tickets (play shows), take donations, etc. The business model for blogs are pay-for-access, advertising, merchandise (maybe this is a way of the future?), or a loss-leader, like this blog is. I don’t make a dime off of it, but it opens the door to conversations that I’d not normally have.
With so many musicians and bloggers, it’s impossible to follow them all. Look at the amount of music discovery services that have emerged. Blogging discovering on the way? Are VC dollars flowing in that direction? Are micro-blogs like Tumblr essentially “singles”?
Would love to hear your thoughts…
Here’s a starting question:
1. Who will be the RCRD LBL of the blogosphere