Kinda need some helpful notes.. QUICK.. mehhhh.
Online music communities meeting the changing needs of indie artists: and how major record labels may become obsolete if they don’t follow suit.
As artists gain control over their musical success, “traditional producers and intermediaries will lose profits – unless they develop ways to retain profits, emphasizing value that artists cannot provide themselves” (Buckstedt 2005). Major record labels for years have had artists at their mercy. An artist’s entire musical future and success was based on the label and whether or not they pushed or backed them well enough. In this essay I will prove how online music communities are increasingly becoming an integral part of an artist’s success in this industry, and what specific trends lead to this result, and how if record labels don’t change to fit these new needs, then they will become obsolete.
Dannen (1990) recalls that in the past record labels like CBS, shifted from being music oriented companies to being “deal companies”, buying up the contracts of old stars rather than trying to find new talent and giving preference to the artists that embodied the tried-and-true formula and didn’t stray away from what made money. He adds that top indie promoters had also developed questionable tactics, from delivery of cash to radio programmers in empty cassette boxes to threats to ‘rearrange the face’ of a potential competitor.” (Light 1990) It was actions like these that made it difficult for emerging artists to “make it” and gave promotion and distribution a bad name. Artists now armed with incentives to compete directly with record labels and producers, resorted in creating self-started labels or joining small indie labels instead. Before, artists depended on labels for access to production and distribution capabilities. With new digital recording and distribution technologies and the internet, artists can produce, record, and distribute music without help from record labels, which presented opportunities to adopt a do-it-yourself approach (Buckstedt 2005). To combat this change, vulnerable record labels and production facilities were forced to “adopt new strategies to maintain profit levels.” But there is still much room for improvement as believed by Bhattacharjee et al(2004) who states that “in the future, artists will sign with music companies which merge together the functions of record labels, artist management, music publishing, touring and merchandising” the “one-stop-shop” label.
If “workers in the creative industries acknowledge place as a source of stimuli and ideas” (Drake 2003), and as Csiksentmihalyi (1990) argues, that creativity is not an attribute of individuals but of social systems making judgments, and when people “are in tune with the community and the physical space around them, their creativity flourishes” (Florida 2002); then it is safe to say that any community surrounding an artist will have an effect on them creatively, be it physical or virtual. Taylor (2001) states, that in the absence of a social situation, musicians invoke a social situation through extensive use of samples and engagement with distant influences, “all of which to serve to reintegrate these detached actor/agents with at least a simulated social environment that animates their agency in the face of the potentially dehumanizing nature of digital technology”. With this in mind, think of online social networks and communities; people from all over the world, different thoughts, beliefs, and ideas coming together in one place. Florida calls this “street scene mix of cultural experiences, a part of paramount importance” (deLisle 2005) to a creative practitioner. “Collective imaginations and emotions emerging from different groups or subcultures within the local population may mould that individual response.” (Drake 2003) Furthermore, interview data suggests that there are 3 of 4 types of locality-based stimuli that are most influential on a creative practitioner: locality as a resource for materials and stimuli, locality-based intensive social and cultural activity as a key source of inspiration, and brand-based locality based on reputation and tradition as a catalyst for creativity.” (Drake 2003)
If we apply these 3 types of stimuli to the world of online social networks and communities, we should find that they also are a source for materials and stimuli, collaboration across multiple networks, offer a large scale and open social community, and embody a high traffic brand-based popularity. As a collaborative compositional tool and medium, the sending and receiving of audio files opens up new opportunities for music making. Several composers can collaborate on a work by sending drafts of the work or trade sounds and musical ideas, allowing musicians to work on projects anywhere by simply transferring the files between locations via the web. (Brown 2007) One prime example that has all these common trends is Myspace.com. “With over 170 million users, Myspace is the currently most popular social networking site, reaching the status of a mass medium on its own. Myspace is especially attractive to users as a promotional tool, not only offering samples, but more importantly allowing them to target new audiences with compatible tastes” (Offenhuber and Whitman, 2009). Another service that makes Myspace increasingly popular is the tradeoff between promotion, search and navigation which brings together in one social community several aspects that are often considered independently” (Gopal et al, 2006). A prime benefit in online music distribution has been the ability for people to listen to music more conveniently that is supplied and authorized by artists themselves (Brown 2007). For emerging artists, both sampling and file sharing on the web are vehicles for making their music more readily available and them more widely known.” (Duckworth 2005, Gopal et al, 2006) Utilizing Myspace’s free marketing and promotional avenues, an artist can now be discovered in the privacy of their own home. Geographic location is no longer an obstacle for collaboration and networking. Prime examples of this new phenomenon are the many Myspace success stories that happen every day; for example: Cassie (first to make great success by being signed to Badboy due to her Myspace page), Sean Kingston (incessantly wrote to new producer, 8 times a day for 4 weeks, and was signed), Calvin Harris (23yr old DJ discovered by Kylie Minogue), Lilly Allen, Colbie Caillat, Soulja Boy, The Veronicas, Kate Voguele, Arctic Monkeys, and many others.
Some may argue that social online networks/communities do not assist in an artist’s career, while others insist that if you’re a serious artist, you have to have a Myspace profile. Either way, if websites like Myspace.com continue to offer: high traffic, one-stop-shop services such as profile, promotion, distribution, networking, collaboration, and communication; the future for record labels and major distribution companies will undoubtedly be forced to make a drastic change in structure, soon, or find themselves become obsolete.