If you were famous for 15 people, what would you do?

In +1/-1, culture, Miraverse, music industry by Michael Tiemann

Amy was listening to Sound Opinions, a radio program brought to us by WUNC on Saturday afternoons, and told me somebody was describing The Miraverse. I only caught the last exchange between the host and his guest, but the comment was highly google-able. The guest said “the world is changing from one where everybody gets their 15 minutes of fame to one where one is famous for only 15 people”. And voilà, here is the link to perhaps the first utterance of such, back in 1991.

It is uncanny how clearly predicted and articulated the entire meltdown of the traditional music industry was to this one author, based on the then-current gyrations of the top of the charts, always a battle between What They Are Trying To Sell You At All Costs and What The People Might Actually Listen To If Given Any Choice. This meme proved quite durable, becoming fodder for Doc Searls, Howard Rheingold, and countless other bloggers. The kernel of truth being discussed on the radio program answered the question “what if the $5000 album could be made by 15 fans putting up the money?” That, my friends, is precisely what I hope to demonstrate, and then some.

I think any number of readers could give me a list of 10 artists they believe are being (criminally) ignored by the music business. The $64,000 question is how many readers would pay how much to take matters into their own hands and co-produce an album they really believe in. Nowadays, not many, because the recording studio industry is not set up to interface with such amateurs. And yet we all know that we do best what we love most, so the amateur, given some reasonable instruction, should be one of the best at expressing and realizing the passion that stirs them to bring their favorite artists into the studio.

I am sure that if you are “in the business”, you are rolling your eyes at the naïveté of such a proposition. And yet what is the alternative? Music decisions are now being made by accountants, not producers, not artists, and not even amateurs, with disastrous results. So why not let the person most likely to actually care about listening to the music pay for the privilege of making music that’s to their liking? And why not make that experience so unbelievably enjoyable that they must tell their 15 closest friends?

As the host of Sound Opinions said, “nothing else seems to be working, so we might as well see how that works.” I’m in!