Ok, so here's what's rolling around in my head about this music stuff.
The politics of failure have failed. Or... The old method to music distribution was necessary for the following reasons
1) Music was expensive to create
2) Music was expensive to market
3) Music was expensive to distribute.
There are 2 things that have caused those three main reasons to disappear. Home studios are getting cheaper and cheaper, and The Internet.
The internet makes marketing and distribution easy and cheap.
Home studios make music production easy and cheap.
But here's the kicker.
Music is still hard.
So, my solution is built around the idea that I can handle distribution and marketing through the internet, and the artist can handle production in most cases. (2 bands I know have produced CDs on their own, using commodity hardware in the last couple years).
The problem I'm hoping to solve (before the world at large becomes aware of it) is finding new music. I go down to the local music store, and my biggest problem is knowing what to buy. I listen to the kiosks and I try to find new and interesting music. If I was better about it, I would look online. What if we were able to provide a service that allowed rankings and ratings and music samples. Then when you liked it, you just downloaded it.
That's how I think it could work. For a subscription fee. You get into the service. You get access to all the music, and all the music reviews.
It's like the online music stores, but without all that messy nasty expensive ineffective DRM.
It might not be different enough to differenciate itself from the mainstream online music stores though. Maybe the grassroots is the way to do it though. iTunes seems to be courting from the top down... which makes sense since they can spend the money on it. But maybe a grass-roots effort that appeals to the smaller music scenes could grow up into being the mainstream.
It's a crazy idea. And I think it would be a matter of execusion. It's not the idea that revolutionary necessarily, just the details.
I should get busy and throw together a prototype. Perhaps Joel Hartse would be interested in brain-storming with me. He's talked about starting a music label before. Grass roots could do it.