If there's anyone who knows how to survive in the music industry, it's David Byrne. From his days on the NYC underground with the Talking Heads, to running a label and touring the world as a solo artist, Byrne has seen pretty much every side of the business. He's also revered by a younger generation of indie musicians, who look up to him as a role model of artistry and integrity.
Now he's offering his opinions on how musicians can survive in an increasingly unstable music world. Byrne recently wrote an article in Wired, entitled "David Byrne's Survival Strategies for Emerging Artists — and Megastars."
In it, Byrne suggests that the crisis facing the industry's old guard, while disruptive to a certain status quo, need not spell doom for working musicians.
“What is called the music business today is not the business of producing music. At some point it became the business of selling CDs in plastic cases, and that business will soon be over. But that's not bad news for music, and it's certainly not bad news for musicians. Indeed, with all the ways to reach an audience, there have never been more opportunities for artists. Where are things going?”
The online version of the article also features audio of Byrne's chats with forward-thinking artist/producer Brian Eno and Merge Records co-owner Mac McCaughan, as well as a link to a separate back-and-forth with Radiohead's Thom Yorke.
Byrne delivered a presentation at FMC's 2006 Policy Summit called "Record Companies: Who Needs Them?" McCaughan, too, is a Policy Summit veteran, and also testified before the Senate Commerce Committee at its October "Future of Radio" hearing.)
With so much insecurity and backbiting among the music business elite, it's refreshing to hear a more proactive response to this period of transition. Especially coming from someone as cool as David Byrne.