Industry Vs. Artist
In the wake of a technological revolution, the music industry has been trying tirelessly for over a decade to adapt itself accordingly to the nature of the times. With limited success, the failing state of business has meant less money over the long term to develop potential artists and more money down on easily packaged artists who ensure a quick return on their initial investment.
This idea of labels coasting along on the success of their one-off artists and strictly adhering to the “if it ain’t broken don’t fix it model,” has got to go. This method is nothing but a bullshit safety net for labels that are crapping their pants because all of a sudden a once lucrative business model has become less than lukewarm.
We are on the cusp of something incredible for new music but in order for us to tap into that we need to bring the art back to rock & roll. The labels have come to an impasse and are backing themselves into a corner because while they’ve been busy milking the success of their copy cat artists, a new generation of artists have been figuring out how to use the Internet to reach and connect with their audiences on a whole new level, all on their own.
People are hungry for something real they can connect withand this new generation of artists is capable of feeding that hunger. It’s not just a matter of adapting the business model; there is a desperate need for authenticity in music right now. Less money available on the part of the labels in recent years has forced artists to think more creatively. I.e. less money = more creativity. And when we factor in the expanding nature of new technology and the Internet, we are seeing a whole new wave of artists and bands doing incredibly creative things to bridge the gap between the broken business model that labels are offering up, and the new found ability of these artists to reach out and engage with their audiences on a genuine and communicative level. The change the industry needs right now is not going to come from the business side but rather from the artists themselves. Increased creativity on the part of the artists is what’s going to get the ball rolling again, and this era in music is going to happen from the outside in rather than the inside out.
Look at a band like Arcade Fire who in 2010 teamed up with Google Chrome to create an interactive film experience alongside their song “We Used To Wait.” At the core of the idea is an emotional narrative that takes place around the viewer’s own neighborhood thus placing their childhood home at the heart of the experience. Anyone who has watched the film can attest to the manor in which it triggers the viewer’s memories of the past and calls upon them to consider the song from a personal standpoint. “The Wilderness Downtown Experiment” touches on something fundamental to the idea of rock & roll and that is the experience of the music.
Another great example is Modlife.com. Developed by Tom Delonge of Blink-182 and Angels & Airwaves, Modlife is a one-stop shop for artist and fan community development. The goal of Modlife.com is to create new revenue streams for bands and artists using high levels of interactivity with the fans. The crux of the project is its integrated subscription option which rewards loyal fans with access to featured content by the band using everything from live face to face video chat and text messaging to video blogs, mobile updating and twitter feeds. The subscription comes at very nominal fee of roughly 20-dollars for a three-month period, and fans actually get a chance to engage with the bands on personal level. What makes a website like Modlife.com such a cool new venture for music is that it was created by an artist for the artist. It takes another fundamental concept of rock & roll music which is connectivity, and widens the scope to assist artists in achieving exactly that.
With the Internet being such an integral communication tool in today’s world, artists have more power over their craft than ever before. Today, bands and other artists who can figure out how to utilize and adapt the functions of this new technology to fit the basic music business formula can hit the widest scope of people at the quickest rate possible. There is no right or wrong way for a band to “make it” anymore because it all depends on what works for that band or artist individually. The Internet provides musicians with the limitless ability to tailor a method that fits their needs and goals as well as the free-range access to people all over the world. People are the heart of rock & roll and the Internet is the new vehicle of the masses.
In the words of Tom Delonge, “the Internet makes creating art easier and distributing that art easier as well.” This new generation of artists understands that we need to cut down the bullshit and bring it back to the bare bones basics – the fundamentals of rock & roll. It’s not about using technology to create beyond “perfect” records anymore, its about finding creative ways to reach people and forge an honest human connection between the fans and the music within the framework of a digital world.
What music needs right now are starving artists who will die before they jump for a crust of pity bread rather than grumbling tummies who will eat shit if you offer it up to them on a silver platter. This new generation of artists is about enhancing the experience of music and using this cool new technology as our vehicle to get us where we want to go. We have a cause – which is lacking in music right now – and we have the DIY attitude necessary to get the job done. We are the bridge between old and new ways of thinking and creating, and we are showing the world that sometimes out of limited means and wild desire may come the most beautiful works of art.