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Posted March 6, 2018 by Mike Mineo in Features
 
 

The Importance of the Fanbase in the Digital Music Sphere

Majors in the music industry are struggling to optimize and monetize recent technological trends, like cloud-based storage and internet-based exposure, while maintaining their traditional role as essential intermediaries to fund production, distribution, and management costs. Methods of music distribution, production, and management are becoming increasingly accessible and inexpensive with recent advances. Computer programs like Apple GarageBand, which enable artists to complete songs without instruments or a studio, make the creation of music possible for anyone with a computer, just like how anyone can use a site like netticasino to play casino games online.

Apple’s Steve Jobs put it aptly when he said “anyone can now be a music-maker” with the software. Since production and distribution costs were unrealistic for their budget prior to such advances, artists previously regarded the oligopolistic components of the music industry as essential for their exposure. This recent technology alters that by minimizing the costs of exposure and production to the general music-aspiring public. Consequently, the role of industry goliaths will be severely marginalized if they fail to adapt, since many of their services are no longer vital to an artist’s monetary success.

The response of major labels involves more fan-to-artist interaction via social networking services, greater communication of management with music blogs, and the increased tendency of artists to release material for cheaper on a digital platform. These methods are inexpensive ways of exposure, targeted at a younger tech-savvy audience accustomed to free MP3s. More importantly, this is the audience with the largest potential for long-term commitment and digital promotion; the kind responsible for tickets and merchandise sales. It shows that both the industry’s major players and artists alike are eager to embrace technology that promotes exposure and listening accessibility to a profitable audience. However, for the companies in the industry, their worst fear currently is if the advances in exposure work too well for the artists. In that case, it would eliminate the appeal for artists to deal with major labels, management, and other corporate music services. In the past, signing to a label was essential for artists aiming to make music their full-time career.

Signing to a label potentially covered studio costs, management fees, and aspects of touring. These costs can now be minimized with tools like GarageBand and blog-based promotion, so many artists are opting to self-release their material or sign to an independent label to cut costs and have more control over their work. Services like SonicBids enable artists to promote their music to industry representatives, and even allow them to book shows with interested venues. Not only does it provide self-exposure, but self-management as well.

Although creating music is more accessible than ever, the equal accessibility in promoting it creates a plethora of self-defined artists, the majority of them solo. The complete do-it-yourself approach to music creation and management that this technology encourages creates new standards of quality, niche marketing, and even emerging genres. In the latter’s case, new music styles like “chillwave” and “laptop pop” have emerged.

These genres are only made possible by recent advances in electronic music, including programs like GarageBand and Reason that allow seamless access to sampling, synthesizers, and mixing. Artists specializing in the newly concocted style of “chillwave” are often solo, creating all their music on a laptop without other instruments or band members (Pareles). It embodies a movement that many regard as “lo-fi”, the name taking from the genre’s stripped-down style and intimately throwback feel. Their stylistic comparisons are to ‘80s electronic pop, primarily since that was the era where synthesizer-based pop music was at its most popular. Chillwave, like most styles of music regardless of how obscure, has blogs devoted solely to the genre for its growing niche.

Many artists today acknowledge that there is little income to be made selling songs or albums. As a result they are focusing more than ever on building a fan base, so they can sell concert tickets and self-released material.


Mike Mineo

 
I'm the founder/editor of Obscure Sound. I used to write for PopMatters and Stylus Magazine. Send your music to [email protected].