You know you have downloaded music from the Internet at some point or another. It’s so easy to get the latest Matisyahu album or the newest single from Lady Gaga with just a click of the button. It’s quick, easy and gives us new music now. Downloading music is something everyone has done and most people still do.
The music industry is one most affected by the rise of the Internet. File sharing, YouTube and piracy struck a blow to the CD-selling business model of the major record labels. Why pay $15 for a hardcopy album when you can get that same thing for free from the comfort of your couch?
And after this year’s Grammy telecast, it’s clear the music industry is never going to be the same. The Internet basically crippled its original way of profit, and it is in the process of adjusting to accommodate that. For every song that a record label takes down on YouTube, two more are going to be uploaded.
The Internet, however, might be the salvation for music. The Internet is great for releasing home-created music. Programs like GarageBand and other music mixers let musically challenged users express themselves in ways they might not be able to. They can remix songs, put together beats and use resources they might not have been able to use previously.
There is a great online music scene, especially in the electronic genre. Musicians like D.J. Steve Porter put their recordings online for the purpose of having others remix and recreate songs. The result is a thriving, interactive community that gives the masses free music. The Internet changed things forever; there’s no going back, no matter how much record labels might want to.
Many bands realize the changing rules in the music scene and actually embrace them.
Radiohead put its album In Rainbows up for free, with a “pay what you think it is worth” system, while Trent Reznor put the latest Nine Inch Nails album online entirely for free, with no pay system at all.
Reznor’s method was successful, and The Slip became an insanely popular album despite little advertising. The method proved so successful that Smashing Pumpkins has adopted a similar one for its new album.
Yet, Trent Reznor, for all of his anti-RIAA statements, is rich. He’s the creative force behind a long-running, successful band and can afford to put out a free album. The local acts struggling to make it, however, need to sell their albums. How many bands could pull off this business model?
Not many, and that is why musicians have taken on a new approach, one that adopts social networking with investment and online promotion with real life effects. And now the Internet is producing online musicians. Websites like Kickstarter.com offer complete funding for a variety of artistic ventures, including music. Musicians put up their projects and an expected budget, and investors donate money to the cause.
Kickstarter is basically the ultimate use of the Internet for real life. Social networking funds real world, tangible copies. Instead of simply releasing a song online for it to become one of many, the website allows for creators to use the best aspects of Internet communication to funds and artistic niches to make unique albums for people to use.
This is an entirely new model for the music industry, and one that it should adopt. It may not be entirely profitable in the traditional sense, but it allows for a wider range of talent to produce their own material and increases the variety of albums out there.
Yes the Internet is a great place for free music, and, yes, we all have at least a few songs we got online. The Internet, however, is good for more than just free samples — it’s a place where musicians can come together to share their music and get the help they need to make their hard-copy album dreams come true. The music industry might not be able to go back to its old model, but for musicians this is a pretty good plan.
So let us take a moment to applaud us, the Internet users. We screwed up the music industry, but we also helped foster the creativity for hundreds, if not thousands of singers, songwriters, D.J.s and musicians. Not bad for people who just wanted to get a few free songs.