Category: Class

Industry Leaders

I have been following four music industry leaders since September to see what I can learn from their online media pages.  I have been reading tweets, blogs, and articles to try and learn more bout these industry leaders.  The following is what I have taken away about each leader.

Derek Sivers:  Founder of CD Baby.

Derek Sivers is an unusual character.  he is not motivated by monetary or material gains.  When visiting his blog, the user is greeted by articles, books, interviews, videos and Ted Talks.  All are aimed at a higher purpose.  Mr. Sivers says that he treats work as play. It is very evident that he loves what he does and would do it even without pay.  The most interesting thing about Mr. Sivers is his philanthropy.  CD Baby is a multi-million dollar company.  Being content with living simply and having “enough” he established a charitable trust for music education.  He then donated his company, CD Baby to this trust.  he receives a 5% dividend every year, which is the minimum allowed by law.  he says he would prefer something in the realm of 1%, but will use the excess to create more businesses that can earn money for charity.

Gerd Leonhard:  Author of The Future of Music.

Gerd spends his time imagining where media content will be going in the future. He has written books and blogs on this topic.  One thing I have learned from reading his blog is the passion that it takes to be an industry leader.  Without passion and a true love for what you do, your work will not speak for itself.  Gerd has voiced his dislike of the iTunes business model.  He views it more of a hinderence to the music industry, rather than a boon.  It is nice to see an expert speaking out so openly against Apple, whom to many can do no wrong.

Ian Rogers: Founder of Topspin.

Ian Rogers blogs about the state of the music industry.  He writes about the impending fall of the record industry.  Ian also has some very useful information to working musicians on how to get signed and make money selling their music.  He gives detailed accounts on how he got started in the music industry, and even an amusing anecdote of how he started working with the Beastie Boys after illegally bootlegging one of their live performances.  Ian’s blog is quite useful and eye-opening to anyone who is in or is thinking about getting in to the music industry.

Finally we have Dave Kusek:  Vice President at Berklee College of Music.

I expected more from Dave Kusek’s twitter page. He keeps followers updated on what he is doing, such as getting ready for presentations etc, but he lacks any cohesiveness or insight.  His twitter page is almost more for personal communication, like that of your average college age student.  He doesn’t offer the insights or information that the previous three industry leaders do.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned from Dave Kusek, it’s how not to manage a blog, and how not to be insightful.


Taking in to account what most of these leaders have accomplished and what they are willing to share, I now have a much better picture of the music industry.  I know that the traditional record label on top model is on its way out.  Musicians are in a position to garner more power over their music and income than ever before.  Music is moving into some exciting realms.  With more and more connectivity come greater exposure.  I also learned that it’s not all about money.  A majority of these people that I followed would do what they are doing if it didn’t earn them one cent.  True passion is the underlying theme.  Without passion, there is no point.


I have been lucky to have grown up around technology.  I like to think of myself as a little ahead of the curve when it comes to using advances in technology in my life.

I am a musician, I’ve been writing and recording my own songs for nearly 13 years.  In that time period much has changed. I started out with a guitar, a $20 microphone, and a 4-track tape machine.  Unless I had friends over to my house, recording was largely a solo venture in my early years.

Today, with the high speeds of the internet, Digital Audio Workstations, and Youtube of all things, music writing doesn’t have to be so solitary.  Now sure, I’ve also played in bands for the past 12 years, but there are times when not everyone can make it to a session.  Technology again comes to the rescue.

Online musical collaboration has grown exponentially in recent years.  I could have an idea, lay down the guitar track, and then send it off to any point on the globe to be added to.  Entire songs can be started and completed by total strangers.  This online collaboration is also helpful in a band environment.  If for some reason I can’t make it to a recording session, I can simply lay down my parts in the comfort of my own home, and then send them to the rest of the band to be added to the project.  It really can be done completely without leaving home.

An interesting article highlighting many uses of online collaboration may be found at

Technology hasn’t only helped with musical collaboration, but really in many facets of the music experience.  10 years ago, if one wished to learn guitar, piano, or any other instrument, they would need to pay a teacher.  I have been personally playing guitar for 19 years.  I took lessons for many of my early years.  My parents spent thousands of dollars on my musical education.  Technology can save that money, which can be used to buy nicer gear, or nicer technology.  Anything that I could want to know about playing an instrument can be found online.  I find it very handy to google a certain variation of a diminished 7th chord, or watch a video showing exactly how to play a song.  The negative impact is that there are now fewer demands for private music instructors.  When I was younger I had considered giving guitar lessons as a job while I went to college.  Thanks to technology, the demand is just too small.  I guess I could always try to sell instructional videos or give e-lessons as demonstrated here: