Publishing peeps like to say that books are not music. Indeed. But supply chain models are the same (or so similar the differences are meaningless). Investment models are the same. Royalty models are the same. Commitment to marketing and artist/author development is the same.
Tommy Boy records founder Thomas Silverman said recently in a Wired interview, “80 percent of all records released are just noise, (they’re made by) hobbyists”.
He then went on to explain his label’s business model:
“Every artist is a business, and has its own corporation under this model, and all of that artist’s creative equity goes into that – not just music, but everything they do. And the investors who are investing and trying to promote on the other side – they own half. So it’s more like a business. An equity partnership.”
Notwithstanding that I had conversations with major label CEOs back in 2003 advising that this was the future for their investment strategy – i.e. this is hardly revolutionary – book publishers could learn a thing or two.
So take it from someone who spent more than a decade working in and around the music industry during its digital evolution, as far as business goes books are exactly like music.
And as for Silverman’s comment about hobbyists, he was bemoaning the amount of ‘junk art’ cluttering the commercial music environment. Publishing already has the same problem.