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Rethinking the word "industry."

Happy Monday! To those in the U.S., hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving breaks. Despite the fateful po
Rethinking the word "industry."
By Cherie Hu • Issue #7 • View online
Happy Monday! To those in the U.S., hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving breaks. Despite the fateful politics of November 8, the reverberations of which are still shaking the ground, we have much to be thankful for; we owe a lot to many of our leaders, thinkers, innovators and friends for keeping us connected, informing and challenging our beliefs, pushing the boundaries of human creativity and intelligence, and raising our voices.
This month’s subject line concerns how people use the word “industry,” particularly in relation to music. I just finished reading Keith Negus’ book Music Genres and Corporate Cultures, which illustrates one of the most comprehensive, coherent images I’ve ever seen of how corporate music companies influence wider cultural and artistic transformations, and vice versa.
Towards the end of the book, Negus riffs on the contrast between the corporatized culture industry and the industry of culture consisting of enthusiasts, fans and musicians—between the work of bureaucratized institutions and that of individual humans who apply “sustained application and effort” to a given goal on their own terms, “as an effort of will.” Emerging artists can choose either to follow the standard, unforgiving rules of the corporate world, or to experiment and subject themselves to the whims of “the combined cultural industry of their supporters.”
This dichotomy got me thinking about how many of us think about the music “industry” today: as a collection of stubborn companies, rather than as a rallying of individuals. Data-centric approaches to curation and concert recommendations on Spotify, Songkick and other platforms are already shifting corporations’ focus to individuals, but I think it goes even further than this. Many apps that go on to be considered as cornerstones of the music “industry,” such as and [short-lived] Vine, were cultural tools first and corporate tools second.
Hence, with each new method of communication, curation and creation that individuals adopt, they contribute in ways large and small to the drawing board that will have significant impact on the music industry over the next five years.
To quote another one of Negus’ quips: industry produces culture, but culture can also produce an industry.

If We Voted With Our Music Tastes, Hillary Clinton Would Have Won The Election
Sponsored Songs & Blazoned Brands: The Rise Of Native Ads In The Music Business
What The Top 50 Global Music Festivals Reveal About Today's Live Music Industry
Connecting with Dudamel
  • I turned 21 (finally)!
  • While Harvard’s football team was trudging through a slow but deadly loss against Yale, I was at MIT’s Media Lab, moderating the music-tech panel at Hacking Arts. The panel featured a lot of music-industry experts whom I had been following for a while, including Glenn McDonald (Data Alchemist @ Spotify), Jean Cook (Co-Director of the Artist Revenue Streams Project @ Future of Music Coalition), Jesse Walden (Co-Founder @ Mediachain labs), and Ryan Holladay (multimedia artist). We touched upon everything from streaming and curation (did you know that people who listen mostly to mainstream pop account for much fewer streams than people with more obscure tastes?), to the complex disintermediation of payment structures, to the inevitable blockchain (who will do the work to put a database together? can blockchain be applied to topics like curation without abandoning its prerequisite of decentralization?).
  • I’m working on a longer-term project about the challenges and opportunities Asian-Americans face in the music industry, and am documenting my favorite Asian-American artists on a Spotify playlist, which I’ve been updating rather frequently. Check it out and let me know if there are any artists missing from the list!
Good reads
Breaking out of the circular blockchain music discussions
No One Man
Leading By Editing, Isn’t (and Why)
I type, therefore I am
Obligatory potato
Just when you thought there were enough reasons to move to Canada after the election, there’s TaterGrams Canada, which allows you to send a personalized message on a potato to anywhere in the world. The founder sure knows how to spot great market opportunities:
“I was Googling weird home based businesses and read a story about some guy that was mailing potatoes with messages on them in the U.S. and thought why isn’t this in Canada? The rest is history!”
Did you enjoy this issue?
Cherie Hu


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