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March 18, 2009


ross tonkin

Listening to Seth was like opening a door to the future of
the music business. Excellent interview David !

Best wishes,

Ross Tonkin


Great discussion, David. Seth gets it. Looking forward to your following on his ideas in your future posts. Thanks!

Joe Blow

Keep on rockin' in the free world...

Colleen Chanel

Great information...I luckily have always approached my music career from a business/niche marketing strategy...THIS IS SO TRUE! Thank you for gifting this valuable and timely information
to our creative community...BRAVO!

Hector Herrera

If music be the food of love,play on!

Chris Blake

Great interview. Thanks, Dave.


Wow David! This interview was really amazing! Thank you so much for making this happen. Seth is a dorable and I hope you and he can create salvage this vital industry and or continue to create it into a more prosperous future for all artists and the general public!
You might become the richest guy on the planet if you do!
I'm gonna check out more of Seth's work and again, thank you for this!!

: ) Margie

Peter Saltzman

Great interview, David. I don't usually listen to 25 minute interviews on the web, but this was worth it. The idea of creating "tribes" got me to thinking about the music internet platform my company is creating (currently in alpha version) and the idea of context. A tribe, as I understand it, among other things, creates a context that goes beyond a single song or artist. In that regard, what we are really trying to do when when we try to monetize the musical experience on the web is create multiple contexts, one of which is certainly the tribe. But I think it is only part of the solution.

Seth talked about the era of the LP as being the golden age for the music industry, and I think we need to seriously examine that for what it might mean in today's environment.

The greatest thing about the LP was that is was a complete ALBUM, or musical experience, in a way that the CD never was, and the Internet still really isn't. The LP was a form (the two sides acting as the two larger sections in a multi-movement work) as well as a format. The artwork, the size, the photos, lyrics on the sleeve, etc— all of it taken together created a real experience that went beyond the songs.

I think we are in dire need of an Internet album experience, a format that goes beyond the single song. Certainly tribes, social networking are part of it, but we also need a true Internet music format to support this need. As a matter of fact, my company, MusicOnlineAlive, is developing such a format. Part of what we're creating is based on the ideas Seth espouses so eloquently: my motto is give away the song, sell the experience. .

For a quick overview (a short online powerpoint) of what we're working on, go here: http://docs.google.com/Presentation?id=dfs7vw2b_440c5th62cr. I'd be interested in you and your reader's feedback. (We are also showing the alpha demos to a limited number of people.) This format is all about musicians, which is what I am first (and last.)

Again, great interview!

Chris Blake

P.S. When are you gonna get your action figure, Dave?

Michael Brinkley

I would like to say "Thank You" for sharing such vital information.....you are a blessing Seth Godin.

Patt Casion

thanks for the knowledge..now to put it into action...


very cool, I'm definitely going to check out some of the suggested materials, great interview, thanks!

Brenda Walker

With all due respect to Seth, I think he has it wrong about songwriting and the future for songwriters. Ask EMI and Sony, for example which of their divisions are more profitable, recorded music or music publishing. Mechanicals are declining but licensing (in diverse media) is king both for revenue and for promotion.

The music industry is at this moment very much a singles business (until a new format emerges that promotes albums/collections as Peter Saltzman suggests), which reveals that the heart of music as a business is still the song. Not all performers can write, nor should this be a prerequisite when collaborations are possible. Songwriters don't have to resign themselves to writing as an avocation; they simply need to pursue a different deal structure with the artists who gain value from their work.


Hey great interview man, i did'nt knew about this man but i'm allready into his books, thanks for this one, keep going!.

Paul Saunders

Seth is without a doubt a true visionary and every time I listen to him I realize that he is ahead of the curve. Great interview David and we should all carefully consider the ideas and outline of the future for the music industry that Seth puts forward. Because it is happening and it will all change.


I enjoyed listening to the interview. The information provided along with the links that Seth discussed will be very helpful for me in the upcoming months.

Thanks again,

Johnny Chase

I thought that was a great interview! Very insightful... I often give stuff away for free or will play a show for free here and there and people give me a hard time for it saying "How do you ever expect to make any money?" I tell them that literally every time I've played a show for free I've gotten at least one if not two gigs from that show as well as sold a few CD's. I think I just fail to do it enough getting hung up on the "I need money to live on NOW!!" problem.
Thanks for leading me to this interview.
Johnny Chase

johan flapsandwich

awesome interview... real insight into the mind of the master and well constructed and brilliantly probing questions.... THANK YOU...

come check my blog out for info on music marketing from the ground level... living the dream(!)


Alun Parry

Terrific interview! Well researched as Seth said, and listening to Seth was just superb.

I've blogged about it myself at http://www.parrysongs.com/blog

One thing I'd take issue with is the idea that songwriters will have no role in the business.

After all, if a songwriter can take royalties from cd sales, why not from ticket sales of live gigs.

If I write a great song for a band and the band sing it live, I get x% of the ticket price as a royalty.

Might be an option.

drew Roberts

Re: the comment on poets and songwriters. I think songwriters have more possibilities than indicated.

There are no poetry performers on stage before stadium crowds.

Experiments need to be run. Find what works.

I am interested in Free Music, Culture, and Software. I am putting down ideas for income possibilities for a "virtual" band that is interested in making Copyleft Music.




David Hooper

Yeah, I'd like to talk to him more about that.

I believe songwriters will be paid, just as poets are paid. Maybe not like artists, but still fair compensation.

The good news for songwriters is that there is big need for songs. Music in movies, TV, video games, etc. As NSAI says, "It all starts with a song."


What I love about Seth Godin is that he always seems to have a vision toward the future... Great interview!!

drew Roberts

David, I have been using Free Software since sometime in the mid 90s, probably before win95 came out but at least in that time frame was when I first taught myself linux. People have been nay-saying Free Software with the mantra that programmers have to eat.

And during that time, some have made big money (fortunes?) from Free Software. I figure that the same may happen with Free Music and other Free Art/Culture but I am not interested in the big money end of the game myself. I am in it for the Freedom and I would like to see artists (creators) who want to be able to earn a decent living from their art be able to do so. (In part so I can get my hands on all the Free Art to muck about with. Who knows what may come about with such Freedom.)

I wish the existing "power" players would wrap their heads around the new Free possibilities but I fear that they likely will not and it will fall to a new set of players to arise to realize the new models.

btw. I really enjoy your stuff.

all the best,


Alun Parry


I think the free software movement is a much better analogy than the free ebook movement when it comes to music.

When Seth uploads his free ebook, he can make money because a pdf is nowhere near as convenient as a physical book.

Poeple don't like to be tethered to a computer when reading, and besides, its hard on the eyes to read off screen.

So the ebook is the imperfect product available free, and the physical book is the perfect product for just £6.

Music isn't like that. With music, if you give up your mp3s for free then for all those kids who just listen to stuff on their ipods, thats the final product.

There's no massively better version to leap to. There's no "physical book" equivalent that offers a massively better experience of the same product.

Same with Ubuntu Linux and other open source free software. Once you have it, you have it.

I think exploring where the side doors to money are in open source software (and even non open source free software) may well provide better insights as to where the side doors are for musicians.

Side doors for authors - physical book equivalents and lecture tours - don't really exist for programmers and musicians.

Alun Parry

Some more in depth thoughts on what Drew and I have been chatting about have been uploaded to my blog at http://parrysongs.com/blog.cfm?feature=498208&postid=36952

drew Roberts

Hey Alan,

Did you check the links I posted above to the Packet In site? I got into the whole Free Music/Art/Culture thing as a result of my involvement with the whole Free Software thing so I think about these things quite a bit.

For one, I think dual licensing will work for a good long while. David speaks of opportunities in movies, TV, etc. I think it will be some time before major motion pictures go Copyleft with something like BY-SA.

I also think that there is some potential for special and signed, and signed limited edition packages built around music. Check that signed balls go for in the sports world.

Also, being a Free Software guy as well, I think there may be some potential in supplying music as multitrack ardour or traverso projects.

I even want to to a livecd version of the above idea. Pop in the CD, it boots into the DAW software with the tracks loaded and the fan can remix, add tracks, drop tracks, whatever.


Donnie Christianson

That was one awesome interview. Definitely given me some things to think about as I build both my band's site and my solo site. thanks David and Seth for some GREAT info.


I agree with Ross. I think that the biggest problem in the music business right now is that almost nobody evens know what the word marketing means, much less that "marketing is queen." If every music artist were given a copy of a Seth Godin book instead of the trashy Indie "success" books you see out there, people would be far more prepared for the future.

Seth Godin

neat points, all.

with songwriters, I didn't mean to say that they will go away, they won't. I meant to say that there's no obvious good news here for songwriters who don't perform.

as for free software, it clearly works BETTER than not free software, because others have it and because it can be upgraded faster. Neither is true for books or music.

I think the Kindle will make free ebooks a dominant force.

The key thing: you don't get to decide if this is the future. It already is.

drew Roberts


"as for free software, it clearly works BETTER than not free software, because others have it and because it can be upgraded faster. Neither is true for books or music."

I am not so sure that Free (libre) "art" cannot go through an upgrade cycle and get better for it. (At least sometimes.) Plus, if you are willing to do things in the Free world, you can provide your art in ways that are "more valuable."

For instance, if I can get around to it, I want to try supplying songs as multitrack, Free Software DAW project files.

A fan getting a song in such a format can do so much more then one getting a simple stereo wav or mp3 final mixdown.

Crosbie Fitch gives his take on this in "Who's Going to Pay Me Now?" here: http://www.digitalproductions.co.uk/index.php?id=179

I don't always agree with him or anyone for that matter, but he makes for thought provoking reading at times.

I do think that since from what I can tell, there is "more money" in the music industry than there is in the poetry industry that despite what is happening, songwriters may be able to tap into some revenue better than poets do.

all the best,


randall grass

this guy is seriously over-rated....and like most media-annointed gurus, he is often wrong. Take his opening
statement rebutting the "death of radio": "the internet is one
giant radio station." No, it isn't at all. It is really a million small radio stations opposed to the small number off
widely listened to terrestial stations...even now in their declining moments and horrible quality their impact dwarfs that
of any internet or satellite radio.
later he says songwriters are going to be unviable professionally because, in effect, they are not performers and
can't superserve and sell things to their own tribe. He seems to overlooking the fact that songwriters receive compensation
for airplay, even on his "giant internet radio station" or that they are compensated for sales of downloads as well as sales of any physical goods that may persist in the future. And if the music subscription idea ever takes off, they would
gain compensation from that. Not to mention income from their songs being used in films, tv, commercials etc.
his big insight here is that in the future there will be
no macro music business, just a huge number of cottage industries super-serving niches. It could well play out that way--at the moment it looks like it will--but it is not a revolutionary idea that you have to superserve a niche if there is no macro business. Niche performers and cult performers and simply ambitious, hard-working autonomous performers have been doing this for many decades. It is just
that now the internet facilitates this in certain ways (but has its own obstacles as well).


Wow! What a great interview with Seth Godin. He is a brilliant man and touched upon so many things in the new world of music as I call it. I had never heard of "tribes" until listening to this interview, but I totally get it. Finding that niche market and relating to your audience is so important in order to connect with them. And Seth talked about the many different ways of going about this.

Songwriters also have many more avenues to earn royalties nowadays than many years ago, thanks to the advent of the internet and new technologies. Digital royalties as I like to call it through licensing the songs that they write.

As one post read, "It all starts with a song" and I couldn't agree more. Great job David!

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