Napster was great. You finally had access to all of these songs where you didn’t have to buy a whole album. It took off because for one, who doesn’t like free stuff? And two, it was a big middle finger to the major labels for force feeding us all that water downed pop music. It was the people’s reaction for being pissed off for buying $20 albums for two good songs. I know I felt justified downloading all those songs for free. Then itunes arrived. It helped stop the file sharing bleeding a bit.
But let’s face it, in this day and age, there will always be some form of file sharing. There’s no getting around it.
Now every person has the ability to create their own music and upload it to youtube. Share it with the world. Have a voice. Isn’t that great? Well no, not exactly. There’s been a heavy price to pay.
It’s the value of the song.
We’ve never been able to have access to this much music before. It’s all a finger click away. And that’s fantastic. But it comes at a heavy price. Indie artists are fighting to get their music heard. They’re now forced to become shameless self-promoters 24/7. Asking their fans for a retweet in exchange for a free song. Giving their songs away for free to get some sort of buzz going. Even Jay-Z bundled his songs with Samsong and an app. It’s horrible. I don’t know about anybody else, but when I create a song, it’s like my child. I’m very proud of it. It has extreme value to me. Giving it away for free is insulting. I get it. But it’s insulting.
I rarely listen to new music that’s not been recommended to me by a friend. I just don’t trust it. Who has the time for it nowadays with everything fighting for your attention?
One thing is for sure though and I don’t think people outside of the music industry realize this, but the power has gone straight back to the major labels. You can’t get heard unless you have some sort of money marketing machine behind you pushing the song/album. How else are you going to push through all the crap? A lot of people like to try and point out Macklemore breaking through independently with the song “Thriftshop”, but Macklemore had a silent major label backer pushing that song. Look it up. It’s well documented. NPR did a segment about it.
I’m not sure where things go from here. It’s definitely all going to streaming though that’s for sure. Whether that’s great for the music industry in general? I’m not sure. It will be another phase shift of an already rocky industry. The record to tape, tape to CD, CD to mp3, now the mp3 to streaming. But one thing is for sure, a song doesn’t mean what it use to.