By James Pew

The last couple weeks the industry buzz was all about music streaming being on the rise, but others say the willingness of people to pay for streaming is on the decline. The UK study I read this morning got me thinking.

First off, there is always at least some group of people willing to pay for music. And there are many ways to get some of the people who won’t pay for the MP3 stream/download or CD, to pay for something else related to a music brand. So what’s the problem? If some people are willing to give money to the artists, and others are willing to perform valuable PR work for them, why not focus your efforts on what can be done to motivate the instincts of patronage amongst the most likely of music fans?

If you believe the corporate hype that, “pirates hurt artists and destroyed the music business,” then you must also believe that practically everyone you’ve ever know or trusted is a criminal. Aren’t criminals usually a minority in a society? Can you imagine a society where criminals truly were the majority? Do you think it would look like ours? Not likely.

Its hard to argue that artists don’t benefit from the free circulation of their music. And its almost pointless to frame a music industry debate around something we have no control over either way. Many people, like myself, believe the practice of sharing cultural is a good thing for the musicians, fans, and society in general.

People who share music are cultural ambassadors, artists, taste-makers, music lovers, and fans. And there are lots of ways to get them to show their patronage. And as we all know, there are ways they will not show their patronage as well – they like the music, they just don’t like the package. Shouldn’t musicians and the “music industry” figure out new ways to inspire the patronage of the masses?

People pay for music for different reasons, some driven by patronage itself (or the desire to reward the artists they appreciate), others are just willing to pay for a music service that is ultra convenient or uber-cool.

In order to get Paid you must inspire their patronage.

What to do to inspire patronage:

  • Join the conversation with music fans, give them forums to express their views, make an attempt to understand them, make an attempt to give them what they want, and if you get it wrong…start over with join the conversation, etc.
  • Pay attention to the studies that tell us what people will pay for, and deliver your music and brand using ultra convenient and uber-cool methods.

Things not to do to inspire patronage

  • Support criminalizing and suing (or any other means of instilling fear), for people acting as cultural ambassadors, music lovers, and fans.
  • Continue to force old formulas and formats when its clear what music fans don’t want.

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