There are a lot of cool music sites springing up, that move the discovery experience away from a typical local (itunes) or social (last.fm) experience.
These companies all have one thing in common. They are using crowd sourcing in a game format to help drive people to discover new music, and more importantly, help artists find new listeners.
Essentially people submit their interests/preferences for a certain artist, and others are able to vote on that recommendation. The role is that of a DJ or record producer. It a bottom-up way of harnessing a network of people to filter through the massive amounts of music out there.
In the context of the music industry where p2p file sharing is rife, record labels are suing fans and aggregators alike, where production tools and distribution are virtually zero-cost, MC Hammer asks a pertinent question, “what is the value of music?”.
It’s these crowd sourcing services that provide the answer.
Music has traditionally been about creating or harnessing social and cultural memes, mostly delivered through an emotional message.
These new services serve to directly harness the social capital, cultural capital and emotional capital of a crowd of people as it applies to music that passes their ears. Once the music is in the system, social/cultural/emotional constructs and attributes are created by people and used to help define the value of the music from an individual to an aggregated level.
These new services simply use these constructs to connect people to new music. They replace the role of the record label and they do it more efficiently and more scalably than a record label can, who are constrained by a limited pool of physical talent in A&R, Marketing and Distribution.
So to answer MC Hammer, the value of music is the same as it always was. The focus is first and foremost on value that is meaningful to people at a fundamental human and social level, the money comes later.
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