The Internet Is A Musical Battlefield
Imagine there’s no heaven. It’s easy when most young groups today play to empty bars and have even emptier wallets after the show. Their best bet nowadays is YouTube.
How ironic it is that artists actually have it way worse today than most generations before them. Don’t believe what grandpa says about walking 5 miles uphill both ways to and from a gig; that doesn’t even make sense. The economy has been like a velvet envelope over an iron pink slip since 2008 and musicians are really feeling it.
In the meantime new bands have a very limited set of options to hopefully get lucky in today’s music industry. If a group is playing ‘just for fun’ they have the right idea. Those who come out swinging trying to ‘make it big’ are in for a bumpy ride and a rude awakening.
Before the not so ‘Great Recession’ the music industry was pairing up with the internet to box in fans via email and social network inboxes even further than previous decades.
It all changed with Napster.
Top music execs were horrified when their profits had been compromised by some hot shot undergrad with an internet connection. CDs met their match in the early 2000s: the .mp3 file. In previous decades the switch from vinyl to the compact disc meant lesser audio quality and more quickly produced merchandise. Going from the CD to the mp3 meant another downgrade in sound, but also meant the eventual elimination of a physical medium of exchange. Peer to peer networks like Napster, Kazaa, and LimeWire ran CD stores like Tower Records into the ground.
Music industry profits tanked like never before. The CD was ‘the middleman,’ before that it was vinyl and cassette tapes. For the first time in modern history, music lovers worldwide began to cut out ‘the middle man’ and spend absolutely nothing while downloading their favorite new albums. Industry CEOs were starting to feel an unprecedented amount of goosebumps. Music moguls had to come up with a way to salvage their bottom line. Since the early 2000s, however, the music industry has rebounded in classic ‘entrepreneurial’ fashion.
Apple’s Online Music Store aka iTunes found a way to sell mp3s in singles and albums. Google answered a few years after with the Google Play Store. Spotify, Beatport and other new, big names are cashing in with music subscription apps. Illegal downloads are still very possible, but also much more prone to being monitored and tracked by internet service providers. Downloading illegally in excess may prompt your internet company to send a cease & desist notice or may cut off your service. In some cases lawsuits are filed against downloaders by recording companies. The mediums have been changed time and time again, but whether its an 8 track player or an iPod nano, the music dealers that be have found ways to corner music listeners and pinch further into their change purses.
There isn’t much hope for new talent. Either get shaped into a cookie cutter of what the industry wants you to be or try to tough it out and make it independent of industry influence. There’s always a chance for a new artist or group to crack the glass ceiling with some killer audio waves, but with this generation of young people it has yet to be seen.