The Internet: Music’s Help or Hindrance?
So here I am, Sunday morning at 5am (yes you read that right), wide awake and incapable of sleep due to another attack from my wonderful insomnia. I know that it’s been a lil while since I placed a new blog piece so I thought (maybe the lack of sleep helped) this time around speaking on a subject I have a lot to speak on.
The Internet has done so much for the music industry since its introduction to the general public back in the 90s. In my own personal opinion it’s not always as easy to establish whether it has been for the better or for the worse. I’m going to go through as much of the aspects as I can right now. There’s a strong chance that I will not hit every single angle in this one piece, as it is such a vast subject matter that is forever being changed and updated with new rules and guidelines being developed, by both Internet service providers as well as record labels and companies. If I’ve missed anything or didn’t speak enough on something then let me know, we can make this an interesting topic of conversation.
With the introduction of the Internet, came the capability to listen to music much faster than normal. This doesn’t sound like a hindrance and truthfully it isn’t; but what that lead to would turn out to be one of the worst things to ever hit the music industry. With an increased rate of access for listeners to hear music came in my eyes, the quite obvious, increased rate of demand for listeners to have music in their collection, faster.
Napster became the relative founder, leader and portal for illegal MP3 downloads. A step forward that is hurting the music industry to this very day. A fast way for you to get new releases and your favourite music right on your computer, in a new format that would allow you to have an unlimited amount of music, that would take up an entire room if it was in a tangible format eg: CD’s, Vinyl.
That statement leads to another hindrance in my eyes. If your reading this and you grew up in the 90’s, do you remember going to the record shop to buy your new cd or cassette? (let’s be real for a minute, we’ve all grown up to respect Vinyl but when we were growing up, none of us wanted to be caught carrying an ACTUAL record and being teased for being a granddad, etc). Do you remember running your fingers through racks and racks and racks of music throughout the store, trying to find that one record you could buy, or you already knew what it was you were going for and you were just scouring to find it? Remember that feeling of holding it and just feeling that sense of pride knowing your holding a piece of history? Looking through the album artwork, examining every detail and reading all the credits while doing so? WELL if you do, the Internet has now virtually taken that experience from you. If you are reading this and are too young to understand that last paragraph and feel the emotion I am talking about, I can only say that you missed out on one of the most authentic experiences that music brings. Sorry.
Now you go on the Internet, buy your MP3 album on iTunes or like, load it up to your mp3 player and away you go. Yes you can still examine the artwork, but through a screen...That extra connection that you as a listener would have with an artist’s work is now gone. Those who really know, really understand.
Another hindrance that the Internet has brought to the music industry - and as an upcoming artist I’m having a lot of ‘balls’ to be saying this - is that everyone’s now an artist, producer, etc. Just about every Tom, Dick, Harry, Joe, Billy Bob and Steve now have the capability to make their music, then distribute and promote via the Internet. The music industry has become oversaturated with a lot of monotonous and repetitive sounding music, coming from people who are not as talented in the field as is required. Quality control has now been diminished and it’s apparently now up to the listener to understand this and apply it. In my eyes, that’s totally unfair on the general public, as what this does is lower the standard that they should be expecting. I’ve not even touched on the angles of hindrance for the record labels, artist, musicians and producers, etc but I’m going to leave those for now.
On the flip side to that last point; one of the big helps that the Internet has given the music industry, is that it has now paved the way for people who would normally not stand a chance to be recognised by a company, or get themselves recognised or to sell their products themselves. There are countless stories of artists, musicians, producers etc who have used the Internet to make great careers for themselves, either totally independently or to help get recognition. Just as there are people out there who are using the Internet to get into the music industry who truthfully don’t deserve it, there are also ones who are so worthy of every single opportunity that they can get or produce, because of the web. From the capacity to make contact with an immense number of people who may have been practically unreachable, if the access provided by the web wasn’t there, to the ability to be self sufficient with your music, whether via free downloads or paid.
Another great help for the music industry is the amount of people that can be reached. This stems off the last point; constantly being able to pick up new listeners for music is never a problem on the Internet. If you’re promoting, as long as you have the patience to go to new sites all the time, you’ll never reach a limit to who you can approach. As a listener, your pool of music is overflowing and will be for some time to come. No matter what type of music you want, from whatever country, from whatever time period - there is a very good chance you will find it in just a few searches on the web.
The Internet has helped to spread music to places that, more than likely it would have never reached without a proper promotional budget from a company. Technically, it is the biggest radio in the world; you are the DJ all the time and you can do that without having all the records in the world, piling up and taking up rooms of space in your house. There’s literally no end to the amount of music that you can find on there now a days. MP3s have made it possible for you to have as much music as you want, or your hard-drive can hold. That’s the great thing about mp3s, you can have a (physically) small phone, memory card etc but hold 100s of albums and songs with ease. Anywhere you go, you can bring your entire music collection and never have to physically strain with the possibly impossible load that it would be, if it were tangible music.
These are, in my opinion, some of the helps and hindrances that The Internet has provided the music industry with. As I said earlier, there’s a lot of points on both sides that I’ve yet to address. What do you feel has been a help or hindrance to the music industry? Let me know.