The New Music Seminar returns to NYC

7.21.2009

By Noah Michelson

How does the plethora of music out there change the game for upcoming musicians?
There are more aspiring artists than ever, so that’s the good thing. And the good news is more people are into music than ever before. All of that’s great. But once they get to a certain place, how does an artist break out of what we call the “obscurity line” -- the noise floor, where those 99,000 release that don’t sell 1,000 units is just noise -- how do you break out above it? To me, we have to redefine success.

So the days of diamond records -- selling 10 million albums -- won’t return?
There are 27 of those ever in history, and there’ll never be another. We’re talking about that with Michael Jackson now -- about him selling 700 million worldwide or something like that. Nobody will ever do that again. Those days are over. Even the idea of buying records might be over in the next five years, and maybe people will just listen to music or just download singles. There are so many trends that have changed.

What’s changing?
It’s not just about your voice. It’s not just about your artistic ability anymore. Now it’s all about your ability to blog, your ability to have a video on YouTube, which is even maybe more influential than MTV, in some cases, since they hardly play videos anymore.

And you have to wear next to nothing.
Like Tila Tequila, who was one of the breakouts of the whole MySpace era. Courtney Holt is going to give the keynote speech; he’s the president of MySpace music. What he’s doing is creating tools for artists to reach their fans better, which is what MySpace is for. The future of the music business is about the relationship between artists and their fans and how to monetize that relationship and how to feed content -- creative content of all types, not just music, but also videos, still images and blog text -- to your fan base on a regular basis to keep them engaged. In the old days, it was, you make an album, you go out and tour, and two years later you go and make another album. You can’t get away with that anymore. I think those days are sort of coming to an end, unless you’re a superstar. It’s a whole new world, and now is the time to talk about it, because old record labels that are still doing the old thing and artists that are doing the old thing are the dinosaurs. They’re going to be extinct in five years or less.

So how about the idea of iconic artists like Madonna or Michael Jackson -- is it gone? In 20 years, will we even have any?
Will it be Lady Gaga? The old fashioned Top-40 artists, I’m not sure if that’s going to be there. I don’t know if there’s going to be Top-40 in the future because everything’s getting so fragmented.

Well, maybe you’ll discover the next Madonna at this seminar.
That’s what people are saying about Lady Gaga, but I don’t know. It takes time to know who the next Madonna is. She stood the test of time. She’s older than Michael Jackson, and she’s still got her head on. And I go to her show every time she comes, no matter how expensive it gets, because I’m one of those suckers. You probably know a lot of people who go to the shows every time she comes by. [Laughs]

Yeah -- every gay person I know. [Laughs]
No matter how big she got, she always went to gay clubs, and she always performed, and she was always inspired by what was happening there. And she understands that audience, and she’s been true to that audience. That’s something that other artists can learn from her.

For more information on the New Music Seminar, visit newmusicseminar.biz.

-- CHRIS AZZOPARDI

Previously > Hummer: Cyndi Lauper and Lil Kim sing "Time After Time"

Tags: Popnography
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