I've felt inspired recently to write an article about the one thing us bloggers would be lost without: The Internet. Without this medium, we'd have no means with which to express ourselves and post our thoughts and opinions into the unknown, counting on strangers to read and, hopefully, agree with us. People are now able to make a living based just on maintaing a successful blog, with the help of advertising revenue and many others gain free tickets/clothes/event invites in exchange for posting their opinions about said freebies. But the internet is often regarded as a bit of blessing in disguise for musicians and music fans. Or is it?
It is documented now that CD sales have been overtaken by the sales of digital downloads, sparking fears that the death of the CD is nigh. For me, this would be tragic. I'm all about holding the physical representation in my hand, reading the lyrics and looking at photos in the booklet, putting my sound system on and enjoying the music as it's meant to be heard; not through tiny headphones that cut all the top and bottom end of the mix out or aloud on my mobile so it's just a tinny, poppy mess. Artist revenue is also taking a bashing; such readily available music means the pirates strike and steal, because illegally downloading an album somehow doesn't seem as serious as walking into HMV and nicking one from there. But it's exactly the same. I know music fans and even musicians who still illegally download music which really angers me; you're literally depriving like-minded people of their musical income, and I'm sure if you were famous you'd hate to have your music stolen. On the flip side to this of course is the promotion that sites like Myspace allow upcoming bands who would otherwise never be able to get their music heard, and the giving away of music (think Prince or Radiohead for instance) whose careers rely solely on the income from ticket sales and merchandise.
It's a tricky one. Some people follow the philosophy that if they're stealing from an established artist, in their head it's OK but if they're unsigned then they will happily pay for their music. Bon Jovi have certainly had a hell of a lot of my money over the years, and are still re-releasing albums with a few bonus tracks and new artwork to make us hardcore fans feel the need to buy their entire back catalogue over again. But at the same time, I'd still feel bad for stealing from them. As a musician myself, without Myspace I'd have to rely solely on word of mouth when my new band starts gigging in the coming months; building a fanbase and creating a following in my city and this is of course how it used to be. Seemingly it has come full circle and the way to now get noticed is to once more gig the hell out of London and other large cities before being spotted by an A&R rep. Well that's the idea anyway.
There's certainly a lot of downsides for the musicians themselves, but how about the fans? All of a sudden, there is an encyclopedia of music at our fingertips. We can listen to hundreds of new bands everyday, we can have our browsing habits monitored so that next time we care to shop at Amazon, they've reccommended some artists we might like based on what we were looking at last time. And most importantly, musicians are no longer untouchable anymore. You can follow Ellie Goulding on Twitter, tag her in an update and she might reply. You've made a connection, and Hayley Williams from Paramore and John Mayer and even Bon Jovi are at it too; artists are now more accessible than ever thanks to the internet. For fans, being even one tiny step closer to your favourite artists is great, but actually socialising with them? Unheard of! Suddenly it's not just the upcoming artists interacting with their fans, it's those at the top of the food chain as well and whether it's day-to-day chat or opinons saught on new material or even promoting gigs directly to the consumer, it's perfect for musicians and fans alike.
Without the internet, our world would be a very different place. If the internet died an irriversible death today, the world would be doomed. We rely on it individually, companies and businesses rely on it, everything and everyone relies on the internet in one way or another. For music, it's easy for artists to knock it and claim it has destroyed the music industry as we know it, but nothing's been destroyed; it's merely changed. As a musician, I know generating an income is harder than ever, let alone getting a record company to notice me; but the fact that I can network with potential fans and throw my music into the abyss, enabling hundreds or thousands of people to stumble across it and listen to me; amazing. As a fan, to think that artists I love are reading what I have to say and even sometimes responding, connecting with me as a person; amazing. So all in all, in my opinion, this technological revolution ain't all that bad.
What do you think? Has the internet helped the music industry or left it floundering for life and unable to compete? Leave me a comment and share your thoughts with the cyber world!