Bands Go Digital

Alex Mendoza

     In the Information Age, music trends change more rapidly than ever before. Thanks to the convenience and escalation of the Internet, it’s become easier for local artists and bands to gain exposure, and in countries and places they otherwise never might have reached. Just five years ago, MySpace was still a formidable outlet for media interaction and linkage between fans and aspiring musicians. CD sales were still a heavy proportion of the Nielsen SoundScan. However, 2007 seemed to be a cataclysmic year for music. The Internet grew in everyday importance, digitized albums were gaining popularity through applications like iTunes, and promotional ads were shifting from paper flyers to webpage sidebars. One-hit wonder Soulja Boy Tell ‘Em saw his first single go #1 across the country with a matching dance to further the epidemic.

     Nowadays, in a burgeoning young 2012, the Internet has since blossomed with a smoldering mass of unknown bands with all degrees of obscurity, the latest pop music darlings, and everything else imaginable. Websites like Bandcamp and SoundCloud have shortened the gap between curious music fans and anyone who can create music and post it online. Not only that, with DIY blogs like Tumblr and Blogspot, countless music blogs have spawned over the years, showcasing new and established artists of the bloggers’ own interest. Pandora Radio is also becoming a popular way to discover new and unheard music from your chosen artists and genres.

     Of course, with the innovation and freedom of the Internet comes the flipside consequence; illegal downloading, torrenting and otherwise acquiring unpaid music stacking up in the everyday citizen’s iTunes library creates the void of lost money for record labels, individual artists and bands who worked hard for the royalties they deserve. On the other side of the coin, artists often peddle their recordings for free online, offering up download links on their Bandcamp or website in order to get new ears to hear their music and hopefully convert them to fans who would be willing to shell out some cash for later music by the artists. This kind of promotion has been rising in an era where most of us prefer free stuff rather than taking a chance. Indie music, once a term relegated to college power-punk bands and post-rock pop outfits, has strangely become “mainstream,” with the gap between promising independent artists and the radio and news shrinking day by day. The music scenes previously exclusive to those “in-the-know” and the aggravatingly ‘hipster’ are opening up more and more.

      Music is never illustrated by one single factor or set of genres. No longer are there base mediums such as “Rock,” “Hip Hop,” “Pop,” or “Electronic.” Infinite blends and cohesions between genres have been boldly created and popularized. In the age of the Internet which furnishes a generation adapted to technology since birth, it has become almost necessity for any artists or bands with aspirations to succeed to use the Internet as a springboard. This is certainly not to say that promoting yourself locally and doing shows would hurt. However, the importance of such a tangible and instantaneous connection to potential fans worldwide is undeniable, and the benefits are clear as crystal.