David Usher at CMA Word of Mouth Conference

David Usher is being interviewed by Mitch Joel at the CMA Word of Mouth Conference in Toronto.

Here are my notes recorded in CoverItLive :

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Mitch Joel and David Usher (06/12/2008) 
Powered by: CoveritLive


David Usher: I consider myself a storyteller. And when I create music and experience online, I’m still telling a story.
As on artist, if you talk about marketing, you’re walking a fine line. Because the audience wants to know that I care pationately about what I’m doing. So that they can share that passion.
I use DavidUsher.com as a social networking integration page. I don’t try to control where the content is. I want people to see it wherever they want it.
Mitch Joel: How about the music industry?
David Usher: We still sell CDs. However, I work online and I make everything available there.
David Usher: Artists must learn how to engage their audiences. Some artists will do it themselves. Others will require some source of revenue and outside help to do this.
David Usher: Online social networks are good for artists. They help get the word out.
Mitch Joel: Talk about the process of making your new album and leveraging all the channels to promote it. Is it different from the era of the big labels?
David Usher: I releasing things all the time. I’m using social networks and all the tools to distribute them.
David Usher: What has happened to the music business will happen to all businesses. You must all learn to deal with empowered communities who will choose the content they want to receive.
David Usher: I don’t send advertising to my community. There’s a distrust of SPAM and I attempt never to offend my fans.
David Usher: People are fickle and move fast. You must be out there and engaged in order to spot these changes.
Mitch Joel: Do you care about metrics/measurement?
David Usher: I look at all the standard metrics. But I look closely at comments. That gives me a sense of what people really care about and think. I respond to comments as much as I can.
Audience question: How about artists like AC/DC doing big corporate deals with corporate brands like Starbucks and WalMart
David Usher: For AC/DC, it’s a smart move. They get their money guaranteed. Today, it’s hard to tell what will sell.
David Usher: There’s more of this being done, but the money is coming down. That’s because all artists want to get their music out there. So, there’s no shortage of opportunities for companies to be part of this.
Mitch Joel: Why would fans steal music?
David Usher: People don’t view it as stealing. And creators will have to adjust their thinking to take this into account. Especially as bandwidth continues to increase, the ability to get music will just increase.
David Usher: We sell shows. We’ve always sold shows. I was with EMI Records for 10 years and I don’t think we ever made a dollar off selling records.
David Usher: When RadioHead and established artists do things like giving away albums for free, it’s just a stunt. There’s no future model for anyone else. The new model must work for all the new bands.
David Usher: To use the new channels, you have to be a specific kind of artist. Most artists don’t want to spend time learning how to do this. I’m not a typical artist in the way that I spend a lot of time figuring this out and using the online channels. Not everyone wants to do this. So, we’re going to lost a lot of great artists and great music.
David Usher: The labels are essentially screwed. They are an old model. They’re trying to do a transition into this world. But they’re doing it without any experience in this world. In order to be successful, they have to buy their way in with a merger with other companies that understand this area. Many try to hire kids out of school to be their digital champions. But that won’t change the underlying nature of the company and the business.
David Usher: Online reputation for artists, like any company or product, can be affected quickly by a few people with strong views. The fact that I’m active online, that I’m in the space, enables me to participate in these conversations and be part of my own reputation. You cannot buy your way into these conversations quickly and suddenly. You need to be there for the longterm. Communities develop over a long time. You develop your voice and credibilty over a long time.
David Usher: The great thing about the Internet is that in the long tail of the world there are lots of people interested in something. They’re spread all over. So, we need to give them a place to come together.
Audience question: Is social media a fair game space for advertisers to be part of?
David Usher: Companies are having trouble because they’re used to push. Now, they have to understand that they must be part of conversations with people as people decide what they want to hear about.
David Usher: Social media is about people talking about ideas and exchaning ideas and authentic conversation. You have to care about what you’re talking about. Don’t advertise. Start a conversation about your passion.
David Usher: With mass media, content used to be pushed into a limited number of narrow streams/channel. Now, the Internet is like a vast flat pan. Advertisers will have to find ways to be effective ina totally different way.
Audience question: Your opinion on the Canadian copyright legislation and the Michael Geist / Fair Copyright campaign?
David Usher: I think [the efforts to police copyrigh online] is irrelevant. The genie is out of the bottle. Music is free. And the idea of suing people is not going to work. As an artist, i’d prefer people to pay for my music, but I don’t think I can change the way they think. I’ll work with the Internet as it is.
David Usher: What you want is people listening to and enjoying music. The more they listen, the better. Artists will have to find a way to profit from this.
Jay Moonah question: Is the rockstar system dead?
David Usher: There will always be people who come to the fore. But it’s changed in size and scope. It’s a bit more like a village now. I’m not sure whether we’ll have any more Madonnas. It’s a much different game.
David Usher: You need to be out front trying out the new channels and methods. Otherwise, you doom yourself to the diminishing returns of yesterday’s tools and channels. You have to decide. Do you want to be at the back of the pack or are you prepared to make an investment in testing the new.
[Comment From Nancy (aka citizensbanker]
But there will always be some individuals particularly skilled at sifting through the mass of content and finding the gems. Won’t this ultimately result in a very similar ‘system’, just different players?
David Usher: I’m very interested in the space. What I look for is how things feed – how messages get out without being too intrusive. It’s the networks that do this well that are really appreciated.
Scott Brooks: Will we see Music as a Service along the lines of the Software as a Service?
David Usher: There are a lot of people trying these types of models. I’m building an application along these lines myself.