Digital music imitating open source?

A BritPop band has decided to go 100% digital...with a strategy that smacks of open source.

Just read this in The Independent. I admit to never having listened (knowingly) to Ash, a Northern Ireland band, and the band's decision to move all new releases to the web probably won't change this. As in open source, the fact that someone releases their code as open source (or songs on the web) doesn't necessarily make them a good company/band. It just means they have the right licensing model, though perhaps no talent.

What I find interesting about Ash's decision is, however, just how closely the band's thinking mirrors much that we see in open source:

Frontman Tim Wheeler said that Ash... would be "dedicating ourselves wholly to the art of the single for the digital age."

By abandoning traditional recording and publishing methods, Wheeler said fans would be able to download new music as soon as it was recorded.

He said it would create a new era of "spontaneity and creativity" and put an end to the increasingly long wait forced on the record-buying public between major album projects.

"We have our own studio in New York, we can record a track and release it the next day if we feel like it, give it to people while it's fresh."
Or, in open source speak, they want to release early and often, with a low-cost model that cuts out inefficencies and allows the band/company to focus on providing customer value, not record label value.

Who knows if it will work? Record labels do provide real service in filtering out rubbish from the industry and marketing/promoting the higher-quality music (like Britney Spears?). But I really like the band's realization that it is the single that matters going forward. To the extent that it can concentrate on creating fewer, higher-quality singles (rather than just trying to come up with enough fodder to fill a full album at the label's request), perhaps they'll end up with better music.

Which means, of course, that so will we....

Tech Culture
About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.


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