Music is a Digital Commodity!

Date: July 14, 2016
Venue: WeWork Wall Street

Review by James J. Rehm

On Thursday, July 14th, 2016, I traveled to Manhattan from a farm on long island where I volunteer to attend the MFM workshop “Make Music Your Profession – Exploring Music as a Digital Commodity”. Upon arriving at my destination, I settled in the conference room at WeWork Wall Street. Sohrab Saadat Ladjevardi, the president of MFM, opened the program by expressing that living life as a musician is indeed a profession.

Marco Lienhard presented a music performance on the shakuhachi. He introduced it as a piece that Japanese samurai used to aid in meditation. The music was beautiful and strong. As I closed my eyes and listened, I wondered if the music was an improvisation or a compilation of pieces that have been played for hundreds of years.


Ken Umezaki speaking

Photo by Alex Abagiu


Ken Umezaki of Digital Daruma gave a presentation providing information about what is going on in the music business today. Compared to the past, musicians now have more possibilities to distribute content as a commodity without the middle man. Quoting Ken: “The digital economy has commoditized music, with profound ramifications for musicians or creators, consumers and the music industry across everything they do.”

Umezaki spoke about how much music is being created today, upwards of 20,000 songs a day, and how the digital music ecosystem attempts to bring content creator and fan together in a direct way. This is important when you see how much money is being made by the middle men.

Umezaki’s presentation reinforced how important it is for musicians to have a website that is user friendly and appealing to the targeted audience.

The presentation was incredibly informative for those of us navigating the “digital jungle” without a machete. On a personal level, Umezaki’s words allowed me to reflect on my professional life and the value of my work as a musician, an artist, and a performer.

Umezaki was positive about the future of music as a commodity business. He advised musicians to use the power of digital technology and social media to get their content out to the world and build a connection with fans and consumers.

At the conclusion of his presentation, the floor was open for questions.

Ken Umezaki with workshop attendees

Photo by Alex Abagiu

The workshop was closed by Michael Braudy on violin. He offered his original improvised music which was influenced by Japanese and (what sounded to my ears as) Scottish music. I liked what he offered very much. It was meditative as well; sweet, succinct, and mindful.

After the workshop people broke bread, passed out business cards, made connections, and left with a higher understanding of what it means to be a musician in New York City, in the world as a whole, and more specifically, what it means to be a musician working through the digital jungle. It doesn’t look so bad for musicians in the future. MFM is advocating that there is work and a future if musicians make music a business.

There is nothing to fear.

Marco Lienhard and Michael Braudy

The Musicians
(Photo by Alex Abagiu)