Music Commons

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Concept suggested by David Bollier:

"“Just as the blogosphere serves as a pacesetter and truth-teller to mainstream journalism, so this new Internet-based music marketplace is likely to bring new voices, and more authentic voices, to the mainstream. It will incubate new musical talent and the real social relationships to sustain it — challenges that the music industry abandoned as superfluous long ago. The new commons will eventually show that the superstar hokum and crushing overhead costs of the current market regime are just not sustainable. The very process for determining what is “mainstream” is likely to change….just as the blogosphere is changing the very definition of what is newsworthy.”

He adds the closing quote of a WSJ article, which sums up the reality of the new marketplace well:

- “The Internet has been like the French Revolution for the music business,” says Panos Panay, forunder and CEO fo Sonicbids. The artistocracy “has faded” as the “cost of distribution, production and even getting connected has come down.” Now, he adds, anyone with “a niche and devoted fans can make a living.” (


The story of musician Justin Verson, recounted by David Bollier:

"“Shelly Banjo and Kelly K. Spors recount how musical unknown Justin Vernon recorded nine songs on a desktop computer while staying at his parents’ hunting cabin in northern Wisconsin. He posted the songs on his MySpace page and printed 500 CDs.

After a handful of music bloggers discovered his music and publicized it on their blogs, word of mouth took over. Within a year, he had a record deal with a small indie label, and had sold 87,000 copies of his album, “For Emma, Forever Ago,” half of them through downloads. Vernon assembled a band, Bon Iver (a mangled version of the French words for “good winter”), which now tours almost continuously.

The story of Justin Vernon is about how an artist and social community can discover each other and co-evolve together without the corrupting influences of the conventional music industry. If the Grateful Dead’s business model was once seen as an aberration, the Internet is making it a viable alternative for large numbers of performers and bands. Musicians can now avail themselves of a growing online infrastructure to sell their own CDs, arrange gigs and licensing opportunities, promote themselves to the press, and distribute audio and video tracks. There is even a site,, that allows artists to raise money from investors and fans.” (