Lessons we learned from T61 (that the owners did not)

Just a few more thoughts about the “Old 61” and I’ll be ready to move on. During the past several months, certain things became apparent to me about how an ideal music community and distribution network might operate. There were so many things T61 was doing right, or was just on the edge of doing right. It wasn’t perfect. The competition was tough, but the charts always sounded very good and there was at least a chance for an unsigned artist to come out of nowhere and get into the charts alongside the stars.

I didn’t really think consciously about those lessons, but I’m going to make an effort. It’s too late to help the site so many of us just left. The owners obviously don’t care and are committed to the choices they’ve made. But if we keep them in mind, maybe we can have a positive impact on the places we go to share and listen to music.

Here are some lessons I think we learned as a community (but Sam and James probably didn’t):

1. Music – or at least good music – is not a commodity. A song is a gift from the heart. It means something to the artist, who puts it out there even at the risk of rejection, hoping to find a connection. Artists were able to find their niche under the old T61 system. A song might not top the charts, might not be for everyone, but might have a dozen people who loved it intensely. In an ideal world, any artist, however esoteric, should be able to make those connections.

2. Musicians are people. They aren’t factories that make a product, but living breathing people. It’s so easy to forget that when you don’t meet them and talk to them.  When you get to know them as people, you are more likely to support them with your money, or by helping them get the word out about their music.

3. Listeners are people. They aren’t just numbers for an artist to count and measure. Getting to know their fans and making personal connections is also good for musicians. It helps them create and it helps them succeed. The artists who were inconsiderate or inactive on the site tended to be less successful.

4. Musicians are also music lovers. Taking some time to appreciate others’ music helps build connections with fans and with other musicians.

5. We’re all in this together. An ideal music environment should be friendly and enjoyable for both musicians and listeners. What hurts the musicians will probably also hurt the fans, and vice versa.

Maybe you can think of others? Maybe I’m just being idealistic. I am not a business person, so I can’t say for sure that the music environment I described is the way to make everyone money. Maybe the cynics are right and the “innovative” new T61 model, with fewer choices and even fewer connections, is the way to make music profitable. Maybe folks who work for big companies like good share croppers and passive listeners who like a bit of random music in the background and can’t be bothered to pay attention are the future of music.

All I know is the way we were enjoying music on T61 felt right to me. It felt very close to what I want the future of music to become.



Filed under commentary, Uncategorized

7 responses to “Lessons we learned from T61 (that the owners did not)

  1. woodjean

    I think you have some very good points in this new entry. I really don’t think we have to worry about music going back to the old company/background model. Maybe for some who really don’t understand or care about music it will. But I think “the cat’s out of the bag” now.

    Having really experienced music (all kinds) together has changed the music scene forever. Once you really figure out that there are others who love music as much as you do and who care about other people you can’t go back!

  2. Good points in your post. While music is not a commodity, I did like having the tip jar and the ability to buy songs on T61–and the game system incentive to do so. Giving listeners ways to support artists is good (one thing Uvumi lacks right now).

  3. johny jupiter

    it is not over until it is over, and I for one do not, and will not, surrender.


  4. Pingback: movementsixtyone.com » Between the cracks: t61, closure, statistics

  5. T61 came close to providing what artists need most online, a site with passionate listeners. Most OMDs are 99% artists (like a roomful of salesmen all trying to pitch their products to the other salesmen). They leave “nice” comments for everyone else, hoping to get “nice” comments in return. The sixtyone was more real world … if people didn’t get what you were doing, they left you alone. If they liked your work, they let you know. If they really liked your work, they bought it. A kind word and a tip or two can keep an artist going for a long time. The “new” 61 has made that close communication almost impossible and has turned a warm home into a wasteland.

    No owner asked for advice from the listeners who dedicated many hours of their time every week to t61. No owner asked devoted artists (for example, September 29th and I had posted almost 500 songs on t61 between us) for advice. “They” simply chose to gut the site, add a ton of glitz, and push it out into the marketplace. They could have kept the community and added the glitter just as easily.

    But what do I know?

    – Lex –

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