Tom Delonge talking Modlife, messianic tendencies

You’ve got to hand it to Tom Delonge, Angels and Airwaves frontman and erstwhile blink 182 guitarist: he doesn’t do small. Especially when he’s talking about his new plan to “help” the music industry. The solution, as he calls it, is Modlife, a new “operating system” that:

…allows bands to give away their music away for free if they choose, but be connected to the fans basically through the best technologies that exist right now. Yeah, my company, I started it, and we spent a lot of capital, resources and energy and passion on this because we really believe we have an answer for the music industry. So, we’re going to look for about ten of the world’s best athletes and musicians over the next ninety or something days, to launch the next versions of it with and then the world will get it around spring/summer.

I went to Modlife out of curiosity. What I found was a rather involved website for Angels and Airwaves, along with a subscription service that promises high quality music and video. So, as I see it, it’s a way of making a shitload of online, high-quality digital content available to fans of a band.

Setting aside the issue of whether the music industry, rather than musicians, deserves to be saved at all, it’s worth noting that Modlife seems to offer a lot of the same features as, say, iTunes, except that it appears the subscriptions work on a band-by-band basis. This is the crux of the problem for me. My recently played list in iTunes has about fifty different artists of whom I consider myself a serious to very serious fan. Am I going to go for technology that requires me to engage in an individual subscription with each, or am I going to look for a service provider that provides almost all the quality, in terms of digital content, but that makes shopping much easier?

Give people the widest access to information and convenience, and you win–at least in terms of users. Who knows if anyone can make it profitable in the long run. I don’t see modlife beating that–unless I fundamentally misunderstand the concept, which is likely.

Odd: the increasing availability of technology and lowering of the barriers to entry for recording music are going to return musicians to the lifestyle they had before recording technology existed, when the only way to earn money from music was to perform it or compose it for other performers.

True story: On Sarah and I’s third date, we went to a sushi place on Pacific Highway in Solana Beach. I was worried I wasn’t dressed well enough to get in. Sarah pointed to a guy in black board shorts and chucks, and said that if he could get in, I could, too. We got seated right next to said guy and his date, who was sporting a diamond large enough to cast a shadow on the wall six feet away. That man was Tom Delonge. He was nice enough to give us some advice on good rolls.

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8 Comments

  1. You misunderstood what this website will offer…

    Fans who subscribe to their band’s page can have online daily chats with the band, instant messaging, webcam chats, watch their concerts live in HD on their webpage… some bands might not be up for offering this access to fans, but they will lose out in the end when album sales continue to fall.

    Angel s& Airwaves also offer premium members meet n greets at ANY show they are attending on tour.

    But this isnt just about music, this site is designed to rival myspace as a social netwroking site/media channel, and will have features of youtube, aim, and myspace all in one place.

    And file sharing possiblities.

  2. I think what could happen eventially with this idea, is that as the number of members increase, the subsription will decrease to say $3 a month? maybe less. Im saying this could happen when bands like Linkin Park, Coldplay, Nickelback? for example signed up. They probably would get so many subscriptions so the price can afford to drop.

    I dont think this will work for all bands, but it will work for some. I dont think some bands like giving to much of their private life away, even behind the scenes. Some might not be bothered to go chat to their fans.

    I think also what you dont understand about this website is that ANYONE can have their own modlife profile, like Myspace for example. There is a lot of people out there who love recording blogs and videos, if it can become something like myspace, bands might feel more likely to jump on the bandwagon.

    I think its hard to predict if this will be a flop or huge success, one thing you can say is that its working for AVA and you cant blame them for trying. Thanks for writing this.

    – Skalor of AVAEmpire.com

  3. I think that this HAS to be the next step in the evolution of music. Let’s face it the industry HAS to change. CD sales are in the can. The digital age is now. We must embrace those bands and individuals that are willing to invest their time and money into an idea that could change the record business forever.

  4. You have to understand that this is just the beta version of this website
    its just a wee insight to what modlife is all about using the band Angels and Airwaves as a trial run

    when the big artists have signed up then the way the webiste is presented and laid out will probably change dramatically

  5. Modlife is not like Itunes at all…. you will be able to get free music from Modlife, I dont think Itunes does that really. Also the best part is that you get to talk to the band, and i know for a fact that they do make an effort to come on and talk to us whenever they can, even if its hard to find a good internet connection on the road sometimes. I think Modlife is going to be amazing.

  6. Pay to read a shitty blog? No thanks. Put out the I-Empire DVD and I’ll buy that.

  7. Haha. Matt apparently hasn’t even looked at modlife. No big deal i guess but i just had to comment after reading that being a modlife subscriber myself. I’m sure most people with a brain would not pay for something like that. Ha. That’s exactly why Tom made this so people weren’t just reading “shitty” blogs anymore as on many sites. He created an operating system that has so much more to offer and is so much more in depth. I guess I’m not here to criticize, but its hard not to say something when its obvious that someone hasn’t even taken the time to check something out for themselves and see that its so much more than what they automatically assume when they haven’t actually looked for themselves. And even though for the full content you have to pay, its hardly even worth mentioning. If someone is worried about six dollars a month for something they enjoy then…well i just don’t know how anyone could complain about that. And that’s exactly the point. The people that actually give it a chance are the one’s that realize that paying for it isn’t really even an issue. So the answer is no, nobody is paying to read a shitty blog. People are paying next to nothing for a ton of stuff that’s just cool, or funny, or interesting, or new, and its presented on an inventive brand new platform that’s pretty cool and worth checking out. Basically I’m just saying its well worth it if you like the band/group/person at all and all the effort that went into it shouldn’t just be blown off without taking a look for yourself.

  8. Your criticisms are fine, but they don’t address the basic point: the reason iTunes has been successful is because it aggregates across a bunch of different artists and provides a simple platform for shopping. It’s an online record store, providing the same benefit that record stores used to provide. Can you imagine if each band had to set up their own distribution network and store? How successful would that have been pre-iTunes? Why would you expect now to be any different?

    If you don’t believe me, believe the statistics: Modlife has been steadily declining in page views since it was introduced. I don’t bear the guy any ill will–it’s not about A&A–it’s simply about the fact that the business model doesn’t seem to be there.


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