Gerd Leohnard Interview

Originally published Summer ’08 …

This is the first in a series of features that we will be running this summer on what the future has in store for the music business. Why do that, you may ask. The answer is that we are currently at the beginning of a seismic shift in how things get done in music. In time, this will undoubtedly lead into a massive surge in new music. In fact we are already witnessing that, there has simply never been so many bands and now all of them have the ability to go public with their music (for better or worse!) without necessarily having to go through a record label.
And we are also at the start of a phenomenon that in tomorrow’s world will be totally normal. Internet tools have empowered the music fans in a completely unprecedented way. Bloggers, social networks, audio & video editing tools, user-generated content • fans are moving into the driving seat where they will support their bands in more ways than just buying the album and the gig tickets. They will spread the word, produce their own features, videos, mashups and network with other like-minded individuals across the entire planet. It’s a brave new world and we are only at the start of the digital music renaissance. But enough of what I think!
Let’s find out what Gerd Leonhard has to say. If  Gerd’s is a new name on you then you probably haven’t been taking a keen interest in how the Internet is going to affect the music business. It was the book that he co-wrote with David Kusek entitled ‘The Future Of Music’ (Amazon Buy Link) that sent a shockwave through the established business in 2005. He has since been a keynote speaker at practically every music & media convention there is. Plus he is a an extremely influential blogger and commentator on these times of disruptive media technology that we are living through. For a full biog, jump over to wikipedia –

1. How did you end up writing books about the future of music?
GL: I started a few companies in this turf (Licensemusic, Sonific etc) and after 10 years had done so much work on those next generation business models that I figured I should share my ideas.
2. If you could assemble all the key music industry players in one place and set the agenda, what would your first point of discussion be?

GL: Putting ourselves LAST and the users / consumers and artists first. It’s about empowering them not us.

 3. Many established acts are opting out of the major label process. Given that historically, established artist have provided labels with development funds for new acts, what impact on artist development do you think this trend will have?

GL: Artists will go direct to their users / fans, using their managers and smart service agencies that will mostly be SMEs. There is not much room for large cartels that are only interested in making the largest possible profit. My prediction is that we will have 100s of medium size companies that will run 80% of the global business.

4. Its been estimated recently that only 1 in 20 downloads are paid-for. Do you think that there can be a serious & successful drive to monetize P2P? Is the pain now big enough to see major change?

GL: you get what you deserve. The current legal download offerings are too granular, too painful, too complicated because the labels still want Control AND Money (see my blog at Only flat rates, bundles, blanket deals and subscriptions will get 99% of the public engaged. See

 5. What advice would you give to new artists trying to break through in the new climate? How do they tackle the real enemy, ‘Obscurity’?

GL: My advise: 1st, be unique, be different, be YOU and make a difference, be real. Then, get Attention in any way you can. Net radio, viral videos, video games, blogs, twitter, gigs of course. THEN worry about getting $$ in return.
6. Who / What are your favourite new acts / albums? What are you listening to?
GL: I listen to a lot of webradio and my styles are widely diverse.  I love John Mayer, I have to admit, though – and of course, I still play the guitar myself, mostly in alternate tunings. And I just got the new Korg Kaossilator which rocks.

 7. What music blogs do you enjoy reading?

GL: the blogroll is on my side. I like Techcrunch, Larry Lessig, Mashable, Techmeme… but read about 900 feeds on a regular basis. My shared Google items are here

8. And finally, what was your favourite historical year for music?
GL: 2012

More On Gerd Leonhard: • A new book on Music 2.0 which is a collection of blog essays and highly recommended. Gerd has adopted the Radiohead style ‘available for free’ approach. – Gerd’s regularly updated blog on the future of media.
The Downloader would like to sincerely thank Gerd Leonhard for taking time out to respond to our questions. And as its all about music at the end of the day, here’s a few choice blog links to the music that is tipped in the interview:
John Mayer On Hypem
And the Korg Kaossilator that he mentions, if you don’t know what that is then check out ‘Everything In Its Right Place’ and listen to Mr Greenwood, as usual, being light years ahead of his time with Thom Yorke’s vocals.
Everything In Its Right Place


~ by donjenkins on November 22, 2008.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: