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The Musical Middle Class Theory To Rebuttle


digital music revolution has fractured media consumption into

niches, shifted creation and distribution from the few to the

many and nearly leveled the playing field between the powerful

labels and the committed individual.

Welcome to the new musical middle class.

Musicians no longer need a big check from a label to record or

a big promotional push to launch a career. With free software

and a computer great music is being created in basements

everywhere. On social networking sites and virally between

friends and across the blogosphere unknown music is finding an


Slowly but visibly many of these artists are inventing their

careers. Not a career fueled by Krystal and delivered in limos,

but rather one earned by practicing their craft, listening to

their fans and delivering the results live.

The fans may only number from 20-100,000. But without greedy

hands in the middle, the profits are enough. And mercifully,

the results of this labor are not as ephemeral as in the past.

If the artist's effort continues; fans stay loyal.

There will always be mega-stars and one hit wonders. But how

hopeful it is for musicians, fans and for music, that there is

finally a place for middle class of musicians proud of their

craft and connected to their audience. And what wonderful

opportunities await for the middle class of labels and other

companies created to serve them.

Hypebot's New Paradigm series continues later this week

with: Part II – A Global Perspective and Part III – The New


Part 2

On Monday in the first part in a series called

The New Paradigm, I wrote about what I see as "The Rise Of The

New Musical Middle Class" some learned Hypebot readers

questioned my premise and a healthy debate

followed. Join the debate and tell us what you think.

Glenn @ Coolfer – "…I'd be more prone to call it a growing

lower-middle class. There is an absolute glut of music


the audience becomes more fractured, each player's piece of the


shrinks… As for increased loyalty, that will depend on the


use of customer relationship tools. I believe success can be as

fleeting as ever – look no further than the manner in which


chew up and spit out bands at record rates…"

Bruce Houghton @ Hypebot – "In my own agency Skyline Music I

see it

in the organic growth of bands like Hot Buttered Rum and

Toubab Krewe – neither of whom have never had real


deals and who now sell out enough 500-100 seat venues to make a

decent living touring and selling music and merch direct to


I also see it in former "label bands" like Over The


They are a fabulous band with loyal fans – but musically they


fit anywhere neat in terms of radio or other media.

But by continuing to make quality music and using all the Music


tools, they can hold on to and grow their fans base and make a

living doing it…"

Mike @ Radio Nowhere – "The Rise of the Musical Middle

Class has

been imminent for a few years now, but it's starting to seem


it's going to be permanently just around the corner.

When people talk about bands that are opting out of the old


label way of doing business and using this new-fangled internet


chart their own course, these bands almost always seem to be


that I've already heard of…because they got some traction in


old system before they opted out of it. Your mention of Over


Rhine is a good example.

Don't get me wrong – I'd love it if 2008 were the year that the


paradigm finally arrived (in fact, I'm staking my own musical


on it), but just because the technology for Music 2.0 is here

doesn't necessarily mean that the economics of the situation


changed. The theory makes sense, but in practice, the money and

attention that talented musicians need to break out of


still seems to be in short supply.

Join The Debate

My post of Monday, 'The Rise Of The Musical Middle Class' and the

follow up piece yesterday has

started a very informed and heated discussion. Many seem

skeptical that my premise that the digital age is giving rise

to a new Musical Middle Class is more than wishful thinking.

One reader challenged me to name 100 bands that fit the Musical

Middle Class paradigm and I believe that with very little work

I could name that many and more. I encourage you to join the debate whatever side you're on and

would love to hear some actual stories of success or failure.

I'll publish a roundup of the best comments as a main post.