05 Mar The Internet: The Blessing and the Curse
A lot has been said about the internet and its negative effect on the music business as of late. With record companies reporting constantly declining sales, the web has been the main target of the industries anger. But there are certain positives that the web offers that cannot be denied. I would suffice 2 say that the industry is a better place because of the invention of the internet.
Most record companies main concern is that with sites like limewire and the now defunct Napster out there allowing people 2 freely send files of all types across the web, there is no protection for its precious music. These are very real concerns as I have seen the progression of the free music attitude over the last 10 yrs. There are bloggers and web nerds worldwide whose main agenda is to make sure they never have to pay for music. I get links all the time from some of these people with albums that aren’t slated for release for another 2 months. The shady engineers in the studios will make unauthorized mixdowns of the artist albums and email it out 2 a few of his friends, next thing you know in a matter of hours hundreds of thousands of fans worldwide have the album. So yeah there are the negatives of this technology. But as with most things technology related there are positives that can arise from its proper usages.
Although overall sales of physical albums have gone down artist are sellin more singles than ever because of services like itunes and rhapsody. An artist might only sell 150,000 full albums through traditional means but could easily move a million plus singles via the web. So there is some balance in the effect the web has. Some record companies will want to blame their declining sales on the people sharing the album and burning it for their friends for free. In my honest opinion people will buy the full albums, via traditional stores and the web, when companies put out albums worth purchasing. When you look at the caliber of music from the 80’s 90’s til today, there is a smaller percentage of what I call ‘front 2 back albums’ on the market today. Think about it, how many full album projects can u jus put in and ride to without skipping thru tracks. Not many! And this has been proven time and time again. Lil waynes album The Carter 3 sold an unprecedented 1.5 million copies in 1 week. His album did these numbers in spite of the fact that the full album, artwork included, was leaked to the internet 2 and a half weeks earlier. Kanye, Jay Z and other music industry vets do excellent numbers every time they drop and its because they put time effort and quality in their work and don’t just throw something out for the sake of making the release date.
Another more obvious plus of the internet is it allows a platform for the independent artist be seen and shine. Because of the free exchange of files and ideas, the indie is now on a equal playing field with the big dogs. Soulja Boy, Kid Cudi, B.O.B. and countless others are clear examples of what can happen when you properly use the internet to build and maintain a buzz. The web can bridge that physical divide and allow an artist to build a fan base in other countries without leaving the comforts of their own home. Look at Soulja Boy’s original video for his breakout hit Crank That. It was a minute and a half of 3 dudes doing a pre choreographed dance in a bedroom. That’s it! No special lighting, no club scene, no strippers, no expensive bottles of liquor and no making it rain. And based off that internet video countless numbers of fans put their own versions of the dance on youtube making Soulja Boy and instant web phenomenon. His good idea and zero budget ended up earning him a record deal and millions of fans worldwide, all because of the internet. If a 15 year old can figure it out why cant the dinosaurs in the executive offices at theses labels figure out how to use the internet to their advantage. Like I stated earlier as with most things the web can be a blessing and a curse depending on how you use it.
Remember, contrary to popular beliefs it doesn’t take money to make money. Ideas make money. If the independent artist can successfully utilize the web, the world is his for the taking. But it must be a combination of ingenuity and good product. People will not buy into something they don’t believe in especially in tough financial times like these. But give them something to hold on to, and you can have a fan for life.