What Else? Kickstarter, CES, eMusic, will.i.am, Pandora, Winehouse…

Music was a gigantic part of a gigantic 2012 for Kickstarter,according to year-end stats shared by the company.  Amanda Palmer was unsurprisingly among biggest success stories, though music had more successfully-funded projects than any other category.  In total, 5,067 music projects were funded, out of a broader total of 18,109 (with a pool of $274 million contributed).

Overall, Kickstarter funding more than tripled in 2012, which means right now might be a great time to pitch a music-related project.

And what to make of eMusic?  The obvious question is how this longtime digital veteran is still afloat, especially given rumors of ceding subscriber totals.  The company refuses to disclose subscriber information, though one source with ties to the company pegs the figure at an underachieving 250,000.  That’s substantially down from just a few years ago, though perhaps a niche play still exists: after all, 250,000 is more than zero, and this is a company still on the stage.  And, on stage at CES, where a fresh recommendation approach and reduced paywall were being touted as elements of a hopeful 2013.

Also touting stuff at CES was will.i.am, who was geeking on his “i.am+” iPhone accessory.  The vintage-looking case contains all sorts of lense and camera accessories, not to mention a slide-out keyboard.  (And you need this because…?)

Actually, for a decidedly un-cool and dry conference, CES is pretty packed with celebrity musicians.  The reason, of course, is that all of them are getting paid, either to sponsor something or showcase a product that will ultimately make them money.  That includes Xzibit, Nick Cannon and Sheila E., all of whom are being tapped by Monster Cable to help forge a post-Beats Headphones existence.  And, Maroon 5, who helped to wrap Qualcomm’s mobile-happy presentation in a boxey, conference center setting that was less-than-perfect acoustically.

Also making noise was Pandora, a company that now finds itself nestled into a large number of leading products and categories represented on the CES floor.  That includes dashboards and tablets alike, though lingering concerns continue to surround the ability of Apple to severely marginalize this profit-challenged company.  “We have made Pandora a de facto must-have for any internet-connected device,” Pandora CEO Joe Kennedy rattled at the Citi Global Entertainment, Media and Telecommunications Conference in Vegas, according to comments scribbled down by the Hollywood Reporter.  Whether that represents hubris or reality is difficult to say, though Kennedy seems far more cocksure on the matter than let’s say, Wall Street. “It would be suicidal for Apple to remove Pandora from its platforms,” the CEO continued.  “So, if Apple were to do something, they’d have to compete with us straight up.”

Across the Atlantic, alchohol poisoning was indeed the cause of death for Amy Winehouse, according to a re-investigation now concluded.  The second autopsy was conducted following concerns related to the first coroner’s credentials, and ultimately pegged the same cause of death.

Written while listening to Pretty Lights and Afrojack on Songza.

One Response

  1. Zac Shaw

    Isn’t it interesting how brands are taking the place of record labels as musician exploiters? I mean, musicians shilling for products has been going on forever, but it seems to be reaching a fever pitch.

    Musician Option 1: Sign most of your rights over to a label so they can exploit you.

    Musician Option 2: Sign some of your rights over to a brand so they can exploit you.

    Doesn’t really seem like much of an upgrade, but there’s a third option:

    Musician Option 3: Build a great business team around great music, and give fans the tools and incentives to be your patrons. You can still exploit (and expose) yourself for fast cash by licensing music to brands. But you will sustain yourself through the patronage of your fans.

    Option 3 is still a bit risky and somewhat of a maverick approach, but it’s beginning to work for acts big (Incubus, Coheed and Cambria), medium (Amanda Palmer) and small (too many to mention).

    The first two options will be on the table for the foreseeable future, and remain the most feasible way to “make it big” — but at what cost? The emerging generation of musicians are perfectly happy being patronized so they can make their music during the peak of their artistry, before the inevitable “growing out of” music phase that the majority of “career musicians” eventually reach (whether via the one-hit-wonder syndrome or just maturing and wanting more than the musician lifestyle).