Tommy McWilliams

Rock Star Weekly





The major label music industry has almost fully adapted into the modern era, the turnaround has happened. And the reality is, if there is someone who does something great there are millions who will be looking for it, and they will get on board. This is called “traction.” And the major labels will sign anything that has traction. Traction gained by people paying attention to what you create.

If it’s great they will come..

So, that’s the good news. If you want to play the major label game. It’s kind of like back in the 70’s, where the music had to be really good first and you had to develop on your own and then the record label would give you a shot.

The music industry is now in the hands of the consumers. The business just follows the trends. The consumers upended the business model. The consumers decided how they wanted their music delivered and how much they were willing to pay.

The business model is shifting for everything, not just us in the music biz. Take BMW for example. They are renting they’re own electric cars.

It’s premium performance for the car sharing market.

Access over ownership – just like Spotify.

BMW wants to sell ONE BMW a thousand times instead of selling a thousand BMWs only. This new business model comes with it a whole new way of looking at “value-added propositions.” This new model yields the possibility of selling memberships, selling apps, selling access to premium parking etc. I may not just be about consumption, it may just be about shared space.

I think the music biz was kind of like the “canary in the coalmine” for all this. It hit us early. Our business did not evolve fast enough into this shared space to take advantage of where it was all going.

Now, we can look at not only the examples of Blockbuster Video, Kodak, Barnes and Noble but all of the companies that delivered media including the newspapers and magazines. This same pattern is happening for the physical world like transportation, food, home goods etc.

Yeah, we all get the social media thing. Create media for your “friends” and share it with everyone who is interested. And it is awesome!! Now, we are seeing people creating the physical world. Have you heard of the Maker Movement? It’s basically the idea of technology-based DIY culture. Including electronics, robotics and 3D printing. All of it has to really scare the shit out of just about any companies that still subscribes to the factory mentality – own the factory and hire workers to perform the tasks of making the product at scale.

The companies that manufacture lots of their product whether it’s used or not are going to be in trouble.

This new style of manufacturing revolves around making your product on-demand, as needed, personalized and customized creating freedom and empowerment of the individual.

Does this sound at all like what happened to the music business? Barrier to entry basically gone? Anyone can make a recording and release it?

So, how do you think these other industries that are about to be hit hard by the new technology will react?

By suing their customers like the RIAA did? Getting injunctions against anyone who violates their IP copyrights?

Well not the toy company Hasbro.

Hasbro owns the “My Little Pony” franchise. My Little Pony is one of Hasbro’s most valuable properties. MLP was redesigned in 2010 to include a cross-generational appeal component and story lines that challenged accepted cultural norms. Making it one of the coolest animated shows on the air.

The My Little Pony brand is so popular that it has transcended the audience that it was originally intended for [9 year old girls in the 80’s] to include Anime fans, older male fans [called Bronies] and fans who customize the characters and create elaborately constructed online stories involving the MLP universe.

Along comes a brand new tech company that does 3D printing called Shapeways . Shapeways can 3D print in just about any medium. They have 3D printers that are amazing. They can print in; bronze, gold, steel and even plastic. The designers realized there was a huge demand for the MLP characters that the fans were customizing. The company stared making custom My Little Pony toys.


The fans were freaking out they loved them so much.


So what did Hasbro do? After all it’s Hasbro’s IP. Should they send cease and desist letters? Just ignore it and hope it goes away? Law suits? Nope, Hasbro actually did something pretty astonishing. They partnered with Shapeways to encourage the MLP community to use the original designs from Hasbro anyway they want. Including mixing up designs and characters, without running them by Hasbro’s design team first, creating My Little Pony custom toys on demand.


This was exactly what the music biz missed. The technology arrived and the major labels chose NOT to engage. Shawn Fanning would have loved to partner with the labels, he was a huge music fan. Unfortunately, the labels didn’t see it coming. They chose to view it as an attack and countered accordingly. So, from the “Hindsight being 20/20” department it looks like Hasbro was paying attention and realized the best way to deal with it was to enable the MLP faithful to get what they wanted.

Hasbro wins.

Shapeways wins.

But, most importantly, the Bronies win!!

It’s your choice as to how you are going to interact with all these new innovations.

One thing is for sure. It’s only going to get more interesting.



You can see in this Napster Documentary the exact moment the labels blew it.

Shapeways -






Your Thoughts?