#090: Roundtable – The iPad and the Future of Music

How will the iPad and devices like it change the way we listen to and create music?  Is this technology a step forward or a step back in computing?  Kevin makes his predictions about the future of independent music and Chris and Bolton weigh in with their thoughts.  Listener feedback, laughs and great indie tips! Join in the discussion!

Bolton’s Amazing Social Networking Icon Maker: http://socialnetworkingicons.com



  • The iPad. I became a developer for the platform a week after buying mine so there’s a limit to what I can say here. But, how about no more paper guest lists, email signup sheets, set lists, tour itineraries. Getting lost on the way to a show because you forgot the directions you printed out.. How about demoing your band to a perspective booker with live video instead of a sample CD? All these things and more are possible and if there isn’t an app for it yet, there will be.

    On the future of the business. Sorry, web sites etc are things of the past. Immediate experience is the future.

    The one truth of the biz that has not changed is, “go to where you are hot”. -Atkins…

    If you have fans wanting you in Mexico, GO TO MEXICO. If they’re in LA, Nashville etc, go there. Cultivate those who want you and your music.

    While I enjoy the podcasts, cdbaby’s casts have lost their way.The point of cdbaby is selling music but the podcast has long since forgotten this and diverted into territory best left to the likes of Tony Robbins. In other words, motivational exposition rather than real sales advice. The hosts, for better or worse are obviously not salesmen.

    As for Chris Anderson, sorry guys, Mr. Anderson is a pundit. Pundits are not doers, they are talkers. Seth Godin is another of that ilk. Follow their advice at your own peril. In the real world, none of their pontifications work out. I see this truth every day in my day job. My main boss is a “salesman”. He doesn’t realize the world has grown beyond the snake oil mentality of times passed and as a result, fails to understand why “his” business is in decline.

    Sales is a very simple concept. Find a need, meet that need, profit reasonably. Give away samples, not product. Give time, not merchandise.

  • The DIY podcast is about more than just selling albums. It’s about being an indie artist and learning along the way.

    CD Baby is also more than a retail outlet. It’s a resource and a global stage for musicians.

    (At least that’s what I like to think).


  • Way to go “Bolt!” I agree. If the podcast were just about sales, I think I wouldn’t be so darned addicted to it. The magic of the show is that the guys are able to sprinkle in all sorts of anecdotes that remind us that we are not alone.

    Artists are not just about making the sale. As a matter of fact, I think many of us would rather not have to deal with money at all.

    I am excited about the iPad and the potential uses. Robert K. makes some good points about the device and gives us all something to think about.

    Thanks again for this wonderful podcast!

  • Danny

    Another great podcast! It will be interesting to see how the iPad is embraced in the long run and if it will become as important as our laptops or cell phones in day to day life. I also wonder if it will be used in live performance as a midi type controller. Not that I personally would but I could imagine someone will. I really value the info you guys bring to us and please keep up the good work.

  • Robert lee king


    I know cdbaby is more than an etailer but as a resource it is but one of many. I’m not knocking cdbaby on that but I do think there is question in regard to the usefulness of any entity trying to be all things to a given endeavor. What makes an artist or a business successful is focus and with your audience I believe the ultimate focus is in truth, how do I/we sell more.

  • Listen to everything and only take what works for you. As an indie artist, the only thing I can guarentee is that we need all the help and advice we can get.

  • This sounds interesting but most of those things Robert mentioned the iPad can do are already do-able (But I’m guessing this iPad will do it better).
    I doubt this will make websites ‘A thing of the past’, websites will be around for a long while yet…

  • I appreciate the hosts for taking the time to respond to my “very long” post in response to the last episode of this podcast.

    My interest is in looking out for those who are easily misled and will do anything a ‘music critic,’ ‘blogger’ or ‘Chris Anderson will tell them. Look at the bigger picture. Like I said, decide for yourselves.

    Without going into the whole argument again, there’s ONE WORD that easily puts the sampling new music issue to rest.


    In other words, if someone hasn’t heard your music, do you let them download a song for free? Maybe. But streaming is just as legitimate.

    Using Chris Anderson’s argument, let MySpace shoulder the cost of streaming. After all, thousands (if not millions) of streams per day costs practically nothing to them, right?


    And it essentially achieves the same effect of downloading the same song?

    It’s a no brainer.

    Don’t JUST listen to Chris Anderson. And don’t JUST listen to me either. Do your homework and decide for yourself.

    Brian Dobbs

    p.s. Thank you Robert Lee King. Anderson is a pundit.

  • Very interesting. I can see what you’re talking about with inter-connectivity, video, and all the different forms of media. Do you have any thoughts on how the balance will play out between simple, casual stuff (such as quick video/audio updates, music samples, and recorded jam sessions) and quality well-planned content (music videos, recorded concerts, etc)?

    I imagine both are important, so do you have any suggestions on how much there should be of each? I ask because whatever approach an artist focuses on will likely overshadow the other to a degree. Any thoughts on that?


  • Robert,

    Actually, I’m always watching for great podcasts about how to do the whole Indie musician thing, and while there are a number of others out there, I have yet to find one even nearly as good as the CDBaby DIY Musician Podcast. It’s really fantastic. I don’t see it as a result of a company spreading itself too thin. I see it as a leader in DIY Musician how-to media.

    I would love to see more such programs. Do you know of others that pull it off even better? I’d love to see them, and subscribe to them as well.


  • As for the iPad, it makes sense to me that a tool like this would give a great face to established and well accepted media. Tools don’t become socially interesting until they are technologically boring. That’s why I think the iPad sounds so interesting to everyone. It’s not a whole new technology, but a fresh approach to old technology that is already mainstream.


  • RLK – Since I was the one who started this podcast, I think I can speak to whether or not it has “lost it’s way.” My goal with this podcast was never to be a “how to sell more music” podcast. The goal was to help the hundreds of artists that contact CD Baby everyday asking us how to get their career moving forward. Selling music is just a part of it. Before you can sell something, you have to have something to sell. It’s about becoming a well rounded artist so you can grow both musically and in the business side of things as well. Some artists are amazing on the promotion side, but suck live. Some artists are amazing live, but can’t figure out why they can’t work the internet to their advantage. This podcast is a forum for ideas to be shared and artist to learn from the music community at large. One of the biggest joys for in doing this podcast is that I am constantly learning as well. I have plenty of experience that would enable me to sit back and tell people what to do all day, but instead, I choose to dialogue with the community at large and I’m constantly hearing new ideas as well. I always know that not every single idea shared is for every single artist, but if it causes people to think a little more deeply about what they’re doing, then we have succeeded.

    The other thing that makes your original statement problematic is that you assume every artist is in it for sales (which contradicts most of what you say in your comments on this site). Some people just pursue art as a hobby or for arts sake and that is OK. It’s for their own personal satisfaction. They like creating art! We have plenty of those people listening to the podcast as well. They would get bored if everything we said boiled down to sales.

    This podcast is about building the indie music community and being a part of it. If I had the time and money, I would gather as many of our listeners together just so we all could sit around and exchange ideas. The community aspect is what keeps us (artists) moving forward as much of the time, being an artist is very lonely. Regardless of whether or not we talk about sales, I know that’s what keeps people coming back for more.

    After 90 episodes of this podcast (quite an accomplishment and especially for such a specialized podcast) we’re still going strong, still discovering new ideas, and still bettering ourselves as indie artists.

  • Robert Lee King

    Posted from iPad


    I understand your what you’re saying but I don’t think you understand that your audience is in fact looking for ways to gain more by listening. Wether that gain is more fans, more warm bodies at their shows, more gigs or simply more sales, it all comes down to the same thing. How do I/we profit from our efforts. Granted the profit might simpy be satisfaction but, it’s still profit. The artists gets something in return for their efforts.

    There is no inconsistancy here, I have always spoken to profit in whatever form is meaningful to the individual artist. For me it’s to be remembered, for others it’s to feel as if they belong to something and still others, by far the largest group statistically, it’s moving product.

    The podcast has never been about community. Go back and listen to every episode, I have many times. It has instead been primarily focused (with diversions) on getting more. How to Better promote to gain more fans, audience, sales, shows. How to tweak your live shows or not perform so often to promote better attendence at those shows to what? That’s right, make more money.

    Alternate types of shows or gig sharing to do what? That’s right, to get more shows and by extension more money.

    Create unique cover art to stand out from the crowd. Why? That’s right, to sell more than the next guy.

    Make sure you scope out the venue in advance to avoid pitfalls others have already experienced. Why? That’s right, so the show goes well and you get asked back. Profit.

    At it’s core, the podcast is in fact about sales in one form or another. That might not have been the intention but that is what the show is and alway has been about. People listen to learn how to do better so they can do it more.

    The episodes that espouse exposure ideas are counter to the main theme because the type of exposure gained is not sustainable. Giving music away is fine I’ve done it myself but if you honestly expect even for an instant that giving it away will result in more fans you’re deluding yourself. If they want your music, they’ll either buy it or steal it. Giving it away is telling the people you hope to convert to fans that you don’t have enough faith In the value of it to charge for it. You don’t need to give it away, you don’t need a tribe and you don’t need a community or scene. What you need is one fan with a very big mouth. This is why I said I feel the podcast has lost its way. It’s lost focus.

    So, why do I listen to this podcast? One simple reason, it’s entertaining. Some episodes are like the car crash or the house fire you just can’t help but take a look at. Others are just plain funny. And some are rather like listening to a conversation between two people who don’t know the first thing about the topic at hand but go ahead earnestly spouting off all the same. Sad. Thankfully, that sort of episode have been few and far between.

    As I said, I understand your viewpoint but I’m seeing, actually hearing it from the other side of the speaker. The intent might be exactly as you say but the result has not been.

  • I have to agree with Chas Hathaway and Kevin Breuner – I’ve not heard a better podcast in this field. The nearest I can think of are a few home reecording podcasts but they’re merely okay, whereas this podcast is excellent.

    Sure, there are episodes that I don’t find particularly relevant to what I do but you can’t please every listener all of the time. I’m sure many others found the podcast about taxes extremely valuable whereas I almost fell asleep (that says more about my ‘success’ as a musician than the podcast…)

    I always get something out of the podcast though, whether it’s a tiny snippet of info, a germ of an idea or a huge lightning bolt of inspiration. I’m particularly looking forward to the big 100 – I hope you’ve got something special planned boys!

  • Doozie Rue

    Herr Kevin,

    Have my baby?

    – Dr. Rue

  • Hey thanks for reading my comment on the last podcast. That was a fun surprise. Still learning lots here, too. There are lots of great resources on this podcast besides how to sell music; the episodes on recording and mixing and mastering were very helpful (gave me ammunition for when I tell the artists I produce why we’re going to a separate expensive mastering engineer). But the ideas for the uses of “free” and resources like vidcasting, other ways to use the web and blogs for publicity, and ways to increase revenue at shows have been helpful to me (and will be more helpful as I actually implement them), especially as someone for whom touring is sometimes prohibitive (busy w/teaching and local performing gigs).

    Podcast subject idea: interview the Weepies or the Rescues, two groups of singer/songwriters who either went to or had connections to Berklee, who are doing quite well now, after TV placements and word-of-mouth and touring, and because they are very good songwriters.

  • Whether or not the iPad itself is successful in the wider consumer market, I’m betting that mobile devices like it are going to eventually dominate the way people interact with the web. Websites will still exist, but web designers/developers will have to make mobile compatibility a primary concern, rather than an afterthought.

    I’m wondering if the iPad will jumpstart the market for tablet computers, just like the iPhone finally kicked off real competition in the smartphone market.

    Count me among those glad that this podcast isn’t all about sales and selling.

  • Kevin

    A – MEN!

    I want to get my music out there and these podcasts are helping me and inspiring me. I don’t consider it to be a God given right to earn money from recordings but if my songs take off then I’ll look at monetising as a next step.

    Keep up the good work.

  • Giving music away is fine I’ve done it myself but if you honestly expect even for an instant that giving it away will result in more fans you’re deluding yourself.

    Speak for yourself. I’ve found far more fans — and sales — as a direct result of offering music for free, than I EVER did simply selling music.

    This is why I don’t listen to pundits!

  • so the real question is… can i write the ipad off as a business expense if i use it for my band’s mailing list at shows?
    i should probably know this, but i fell asleep as well during the taxes podcast.

  • I just ordered my new iPad yesterday (it’s out of stock until next week). The way I’m using it for my music career is in the way of social networking.

    I decided that I needed a very efficient way to do all my social networking tasks: blogging, commenting on blogs, tweeting, interacting on YouTube, and on and on…

    I expect that the iPad will be the best device yet for this. It quickly boots up and can handle ready-made applications such as Tweetie, Tumblr, etc.

    The link below goes to an article I posted on my frustration with Social Networking eating into my creative time. Hope you get something out of it…