John Vanderslice, musician and owner of Tiny Telephone: Definitely the MP3 codec. That's what shattered the power structure and the false gods. In the '90s, there was a hierarchy that a lot of bands believed [in]: You would sign to an indie label and then move up to a major label — like going up from triple-A ball to the majors. That, thankfully, doesn't exist anymore.

What will be the biggest issue facing the music industry in the decade to come?

Artists and DJs

Headnodic: How to keep it an industry. With less monetary value put to recorded music, it won't be long until corporate America has the only dollar left, and before long, artists will be like NASCAR, with corporate sponsors throwing money at them to say "Bacardi" or "Hennessy" in a song. Oh, wait ... too late.

Sonny Smith: Creepy empires like Who's selling what, and who is reaping your profits? Vinyl is exciting, like limited editions in the art world; small amounts are made and sold, then they sell out. If there are multiple pressings, you can keep track, whereas with CDs and digital files, there's no collectability aspect; there's never any end to it.

Logan Kroeber: The music industry has plenty of trouble coming its way in the next decade. There's a generation of kids who are growing up downloading everything and never owning any CDs or LPs. When all of us record-collecting dinosaurs start to fade away, the business model is gonna look pretty rough.

Claude VonStroke: The biggest issue this decade will be the same issue as every decade: crappy music getting popular.

The Jacka: Rap is re-creating itself again, like the beginning stages, [when] it wasn't as commercial.

Adam Theis: There are all sorts of little problems — like people not getting paid — but the main thing is that there isn't really a model to follow. That's going to be a huge problem for a lot of people, but that's also going to be a great advantage to a lot of people who have imagination. I think it's exciting, especially for bands who are doing different stuff. 

DJ David Paul: Computers and the concept of "free" music. Computers made it easier to make music, but it has also made it easier to take music. I'd like a free computer, but if I try to take one from the Apple store, I'm sure I'll be arrested.

Kush Arora: The key holders of the music industry of the '80s and '90s still hold the top level of marketing and cash, and yet the indie music industry is completely self-sufficient. Setting up live venues in each city that can support the financial model of touring will be as important as weeding out old folks who keep screwing it up for everybody else.

DJ Jacob Sperber, Honey Soundsystem: Whether it's the digital-free-sharing music renaissance or the "war on fun" over live music venues and nontraditional underground events, things are a-changin'. It's gonna get real unpretty and then real, real fun.

DJ Jeffrey Paradise: Big record labels obviously took too long to adapt to the digital age. Now it's so easy to make music and to get it out there to people, the barriers to entry are so low that we are flooded with a lot of mediocre music.

Eric Frederic: Bands and labels are focused more on publishing, merchandise, and tour profits. You can't download a concert experience or a T-shirt. Creating unique real-life experiences and tangible objects that can be sold will have to fill the void left by album sales.

Odessa Chen: The growing expectation that music should be free. People have resentment toward the music business, and rightly so, but without money going to the artist, lots of musicians will be so busy working day jobs their output will decline, and we'll all lose out on their voices. As a small independent musician who doesn't have a label and doesn't make money touring, music sales enable me to produce more music. An indie CD can cost about $10,000 to produce. I'm not sure people really understand that.

Juan Manuel Caipo: Labels, promoters, and radio need to coexist and embrace the indie mentality. People will download new music or listen to [a band] on Pandora for free, and if they like it, they'll buy a concert ticket and a shirt next time they come into town. The industry will have to figure how to offer people more for their money.


Phil Bernosky, senior director of electronic media at Dolby Laboratories: The music business struggles to find a growth model. No longer is good music a scarcity, it's now a commodity simply because all the talent in the world can afford to create professional content. When it is no longer a scarce resource, the price necessarily drops. 

Kevin Arnold: The biggest challenge is to settle into the new digital world as a business landscape. The physical decline will continue, and we still aren't quite there yet, with regard to the majority of the music sales being digital. The second phase of change is gonna be the really challenging part of the overall transformation.

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