Victor said: “I could make an argument that open music won’t have it’s break out moment through these massive online catalogs. They will break through taste sharers at which point the only services necessary for the artist are paypal and a remote host. Who is cultivating the taste-sharer? Who is enabling the next Ahmet Ertegün?”

I think the near-global importance of the Ahmet Ertegüns of the world is an artifact of late-20th century communication media. Before the 1920s, there were lots of people who influenced others’ tastes in music, but there were very rarely break out moments on the national or international scale.

We’ve always had thousands of “tribal” and regional tastes that had little basis of or need for agreement with each other. During the second half of the 20th century, we also had some shared national and international tastes that allowed for artists to attain large-scale popularity.

I think we’re returning to a world where tribal tastes are primary over any apparent global tastes. The webs of music online connect across online tribes of interest and taste.

I put “taste maker” in quotes because it tends to imply that there is some kind of “global” set of specific agreements on taste, and that there are a few people out there who help everyone globally come to these agreements and know the specifics. I think it’s all just a lot more fuzzy and distributed that that.