Tribes: The Future of Music?

Here’s a  brilliant speech Seth Godin recently gave to the music industry.  It’s pretty long, but is one of the best thought pieces I’ve read in a while.  I’ve been posting a lot about the music biz lately — not because I’m particularly interested in it, but because it’s a great case study for an industry that is being turned on its head by the Internet.  As Seth points out, music itself is not in trouble — more people listen to more music today than ever before.  But the music business is in trouble — $10 CD’s aren’t selling and it’s unclear whether there is money in digital downloads (digital content wants to be free).

Yet superfans are willing to drive for hours and spend hundreds of dollars to see their favorite artist in concert.  Seth calls these groups of people “tribes”.  It’s basically the same concept as True Fans.  Tribes want to connect with their favorite artists and also with other people in the tribe — and they’re willing to pay to do it!

This concept explains MySpace’s early success in connecting musicians with their tribes.  But I think there’s still an opportunity for music companies that help artists manage their tribes so the artists can do what they do best: create art.  Will the major record labels figure out how to do this or will they be replaced by new companies?


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