Monday, January 19, 2009

obama is being called the "first internet president", and something that struck me today in thinking about that was the correlation between the way that bush's administration operated (and how mccain campaigned), and how the music industry has shifted during that presidency.

you see, music has shifted almost entirely to a pull economy, from what was historically a push economy. no longer do music lovers have to sift through what the more powerful components push to radio stations or video channels. we go out and find what we like, engage with it and go deep if we really like it. anything else rolls off like water on a duck's back. the popularity of gift cards for itunes and the post-christmas digital rush shows that no longer are people accepting the blockbuster releases that well-meaning family and friends give them on cd. instead, we get gift cards, load up our account and get what we want, how we want.

the bush presidency and mccain campaigns ran like old-school, push-delivery media. control the message, control the information, control the campaign workers and volunteers and believe that they actually get to set the tone and pace of the campaign. obama, in contrast, spent a great amount of time distributing the campaign info to passionate volunteers, and the listened to them when they communicated what was working and what wasn't. what's more, they then had those volunteers go find others and train them, allowing for greater involvement of people, not just in numbers, but in ideas.

for a fascinating view on this, read zack exley's article here

what really strikes me about this is the sense that trust and confidence have been placed with the quality of ideas, of music, of content. if a band can make a connection and keep an audience engaged, they have to place a certain amount of trust that those fans will stay with them, which offers far more freedom than relying on the music being given as a gift and the end listener not having any investment in them. similarly, for a candidate to do things like let their supporters run with ideas and tactics when all history says that they should control the message is astonishing.

the implications of this across so many areas are huge, and while it is disruptive, destabilizing and downright terrifying for some, it is a signal of things to come, and i embrace that. best of luck, mr. president-elect - thanks for trusting us.