22 December 2010
Digital provides a future for niche musicians
The research identified new pathways for musicians outside the traditional music industry system.
RMIT PhD graduate Dr Anna Daniel.
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RMIT University researcher Anna Daniel has explored emerging business models in the digital music sector to reveal exciting new pathways for musicians who operate outside the traditional music industry system.
Dr Daniel, a PhD graduate from the Graduate School of Business and Law, investigated the rapidly changing music industry in her PhD: The Nature, Cause and Trajectory of Emerging Business Models In The Digital Music Sector: Opportunities For Specialised Musicians.
She said her thesis identified a wealth of opportunities for self-managed musicians to sustain careers outside the traditional music system based on a small number of big stars selling to mass markets.
"The music sector is a test-bed for online innovation, providing early indicators of scenarios that reshape society," Dr Daniels said.
"Artists are using social networking tools and music websites such as Bandcamp and twitter to share and sell their work with a global audience, but also to network and build deeper relations with other musicians and fans worldwide who may help advise, organise and promote tours.
"The focus is no longer primarily on the music product.
"My findings show there will always be a market for music and there will always be dominant entertainment businesses that sell to a mass market, but new ways are emerging for musicians to build up their own small music businesses.
"It was reassuring to discover that despite the rapid change and volatility in the industry, underlying demand for music will continue for as long as humans have ears, and consequently, demand for music managers too."
Dr Daniel said her research provided insights into issues faced by other creative industries, media and the wider "knowledge economy", with the digitisation of music creating disruptions similar to those now being faced by news media.
"My research also found that musicians are typically disinclined to perform administration and management tasks, despite having the necessary tools and capabilities, so managers will continue to have a play a vital supporting role," she said.
Dr Daniel's research interest stemmed from studying a Business Research Methods course at RMIT, as a refresher while working in research consulting.
"I enjoyed the different perspective to corporate research and as part of the subject we applied research methods to a self-selected topic," she said.
"I chose the music sector because (a) I'm a music obsessive and (b) at the time I could see how digital technologies could reshape the industry and felt the opportunities were being given insufficient attention. Things grew from there."
The research led directly to a two-year national team project that investigated how emerging digital technologies were affecting consumer perceptions and news media.
"But the PhD contributed as much to my personal development as my professional development," she said
"I'm a much more rounded person from when my professional focus was purely corporate research. I've learnt so much from my supervisors including how to think strategically, write critically, and debate different viewpoints and ideas. I miss those 7.30am meetings with Professor Peter Sheldrake and Mary Atchison!
"The feeling of graduating is unreal, but it's not as if I've finished because I've gained skills and a mindset that are embedded and ongoing."
Dr Daniel celebrated her achievements with more than 6,000 other graduates at RMIT's spectacular Graduation Ceremony at Etihad Stadium last week.