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Divergent Streams: Reflections and Explorations of the Modern Music Industry

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This is the preface for Divergent Streams, a collection of essays edited by Kyle Bylin (@sidewinderfm) and written by influential executives, startup founders, and thinkers in the music industry. Download a free copy of the e-book here.

I wanted something to read. Something that challenged me. Something that engaged me. Something that forced me to sit down and consider the writer's perspective. What I found instead were news stories about trivial developments, blog posts with big headlines but small insights, and numbered lists lacking intellectual substance.

As someone who cares deeply about music and technology, I found this disheartening. I wanted someone to show me the bigger picture and help me see things from a different view. I wanted someone to visualize the future and inspire me to imagine what's to come. Certainly, I thought, there must be analysts out there identifying emerging trends and writing about them in a way that would encourage me to grow as a reader.

But I couldn't find anyone who did that on a regular basis. Although there are writers I admire and publications I love, I still wanted more.

Happily, this frustration presented an opportunity: Other people in music and technology may also feel the need for deeper analysis, I reasoned. So I set out on a mission to develop and curate the type of content I wanted to read.

I started out by taking on several younger writers and publishing their essays through Hypebot. Once this effort gained momentum, I started my publication, sidewinder.fm. I asked dozens of my friends, colleagues, and heroes if they would like to write guest posts. I told them my vision for a new conversation, but gave little direction about how it should begin. I wanted them to tell me what they had been thinking about lately and how they saw important issues developing. I wanted them to take on topics that they cared about.

In the ensuing months, 30 people wrote essays on such topics as digital music companies and their attempts to align themselves more closely with artists; the state of the live music experience and how new technologies could improve it; why social music services have failed and what they must do to gain traction; whether music fanatics are dying out or simply waiting to be found amongst mountains of behavioral data; how D.I.Y. artists make money and where new revenue streams might lie; and the future of music listening and discovery.

The following pages represent a collection of the best of these wonderfully insightful works. I'm both honored and grateful that the authors took time out of their busy lives to participate in this project. And while many others wrote essays that didn't make their way into this collection, each of them contributed to moving the conversation forward and gave us all something substantial to read. Thank you one and all. I also want to thank Eric Garland for believing in this project; Bruce Houghton for giving it a bigger stage; and Annie Licata for editing a majority of these works and making them sing.

Sometimes, if you want to see the bigger picture, you have to paint it yourself.

Download a copy of Divergent Streams for free.


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