The world we know is changing. The pace of it continues to accelerate at an unbelievable rate. And as the music and radio industries struggle to remain viable, as do bands and musicians, the fallout can already be seen.
We’ve seen some of this already. Albums are rapidly becoming passé for newer bands. With so much music being given away or available through streaming services, it makes more sense for the newbies to get their songs out and available. And while vinyl continues to make inroads and larger bands continue to follow their well-worn routes to release (think U2), sales of full releases are generally on a permanent downward trend.
And why not. The consumer has the option of buying only the songs they like. They can preview and decide in an instant whether their hard-earned cash should be parted with. I won’t even discuss the ridiculous price charged by iTunes for a single and the fact that bands get almost nothing from it. So what incentive do the up-and-comers have to make albums? They don’t. Record songs and get them out there. An almost constant stream of new music. With instant access via social media, bands can see whether a song hits home. And as supporters send out kudos to everyone they know, the base can continue to build. And tour the new songs, work on songs live and let everyone into who and what you are. The key to the new world won’t be radio or record sales. It will access and knowledge.
And what of the endless cd racks at gigs? Choices will have to be made by bands on the approach to this. Do you give them away (at your cost)? Do you use other methods like memory sticks with songs for a cheap price? Or do you give out cards for free tracks and get them on your site and to your social networks? The reality is that getting them online is your best bet to your monetary future. Have cool stuff available online. Some bands are selling original song sheets and such to bring in revenue. Everything has to be outside-the-box these days.
One thing is for sure. It is almost pointless trying to get your music on radio. Given that the music played by most stations is manufactured shit these days as these dinosaur industries of radio and music cling hopelessly to the belief that they are still relevent, I’d say no.
Radio has become a pointless escapade. They are no longer content providers but rather garbage music providers with advertising. There are very few stations where DJs are anything other than 60 second gap fillers and most of that is a station call-out of some sort. Radio personalities have all but disappeared. All content is on the internet these days (think HumbleandFredRadio.com). And as the ‘connected car’ becomes a fulltime reality, the traditional over-the-air radio station will crumble to dust. simply having your old radio show on the internet will not save you. You will either provide real content or you will die. Period. We are starting to see some of these companies paying attention and making moves. Others cling to diseased ideals of the past and will suffer the ultimate consequence.
So the new world survival requires radio industry execs to wake up and become online content providers that people will want to hear in their homes and in their cars. Full consumer choice will require them to work hard and provide real value. If I can just throw my music of my iPod or listen to my favourite streaming service, you better be giving me something I want. Because you will be ignored. Trust me.
Music execs, you need to get back to the business you started in decades back. No, not payola. No, not manufacturing crap. Investing. Investing in talent. Help those little bands out that are big on talent and drive but short on opportunity. Expand their social media exposure. Provide opportunities to open for bigger artists. Invest in venues so people will come out. Try and remember that the beginning was all about the music and not about the goddamn dollar. Love of music. Go back. Remember what it was like to be blown away by a song. Find those. It doesn’t require a body visiting a club now. You can research online. So use this new world. You’ll still make money. And so will they. Fair. Does anyone know what that means?
And a final and out there thought. For the world of music. For the future. Let’s get the internet away from companies. Why are we being charged for access and data? The day where the entire world can be connected is coming. So how about we take global internet and wireless to reality. Where you can connect from anywhere for free. Where you don’t pay some robber baron cable company to see what’s out there. How about the UN charges for maintenance and upgrades. Even the poorest countries could connect. Political isolationists like North Korea could not stop their people from learning. And music. Oh music would be able to go places it has never gone before.
Yes, you could say music is already global. And it is in many ways. I can go find great tunes from almost anywhere. But not everywhere has that opportunity. Let’s make that happen. Whether you are in remotest China, downtown Garissa or a boat in the middle of the Indian Ocean, let’s all be connected without restriction, without political interference and without prejudice. If there was ever a universal language, music is it. Let’s give everyone the same opportunity. That isn’t communism, it’s freedom.