The Internet vs. the music industry

Yesterday while driving home from work I was listening to The Church of Lazlo on local radio station 96.5 the Buzz. One of the segments I listened to was an interview with Jill Sobule. You may remember her as the singer of the pre-Katy Perry version of “I Kissed A Girl”.

What’s really interesting about this woman is the way she drummed up financing and support for her latest record. Ms. Sobule solicited donations from her fans, a la PBS. If you go to her Web site,, she has a list detailing what each particular donation amount will net you. Of course the really cool thing is, if you donate $10,000, you get to sing on her record.

This is an interesting tactic, because it takes what the hip hop industry has been doing for years and hones it down even further. Starting sometime in the mid-90s, lots of rappers realized that they were not making nearly what they should off of album sales. As a result, almost overnight you started seeing record labels popping up. No Limit, Aftermath, Roc-A-Fella, all of these labels started as a means for their artists to keep a higher percentage of their sales.

And what Jill Sobule has done is take this to a new level. Rather than producing her next album herself, using her own money, she’s opened it up to her fans. And it seems like it’s beena successful tactic. It’s interesting to contrast this tactic with Radiohead’s “In Rainbows” album. If you recall, Radiohead offered “In Rainbows” for free download, asking only that fans give what they thought was fair. This had never been done before and was wildly successful, leading to 1.2 million downloads in the first 10 days, most of whom paid for the album.

Couple these guerilla marketing tactics with the fact that an entire of generation of musicians has relied on sites like Youtube and Myspace to expose their music to fans around the globe, and you can see this is the beginning of the end for the music giants. We’re witnessing a revolution in the music industry. It’s going to be very interesting to how this works out in the future.


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