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August 8, 2011 | by  | in Music | [ssba]

Music Industry Fail

The old ways are decaying. The music industry is collapsing around us, chunks of debris trapping some bands, whilst dust blinds others to a way out. The music industry is dead.

Yeah right. The movie industry thought VHS would kill cinema, and look how that turned out. The only thing I use my VHS tapes for now is holding doors open, and most of the films I own on DVD I saw at the cinema. The music industry will never die, as unfortunate as that may seem to those who despise popular music, but it will change.

Industry means work, manufacturing, and music is sound artistically arranged. Industry really refers to the way music is communicated from the artist to the audience, and there does not have to be one form above all others. With the advent of the internet, the music industry—moreso than most other industries—has had to adapt. A lot. And so far it’s done a piss-poor job. But I just want to talk about what comes next—from the musicians bored with waiting for the ‘industry’ to catch up with their music.

When Radiohead released In Rainbows for free via the internet in 2007, it blew everyone’s minds. They released their music for free, with no label support, and they still made a ton of money. Critics pointed out they’re a huge band, whose fanbase have a taste for the avant-garde—just because they could achieve success with this method doesn’t mean all bands could.

But not all bands can achieve success via the traditional music industry either. And the smart musicians are on to it. Amanda Palmer cultures an intensely loyal fanbase using social networking sites like Twitter, and giving her music away for free via bandcamp. She got bored with the industry when it told her she had too much flab showing in her latest music video, and her fans staged a ‘rebellyon’ to get her out of her contract. Her career hasn’t faltered since, with a massive crowd watching her ninja-gig in Civic Square last February, to promote her latest, self-produced album.

Kim Boekbinder, the Impossible Girl, recently had a startling simple epiphany over $12.50 worth of whiskey. It was the only money she’d made from a gig playing to an almost empty room. Musicians get that in their career—but as she put it herself, she’s “actually famous”. Not having a full house didn’t make sense. Her solution: Pre-sell the shows before they are even booked.

It’s a win-win-win situation, the fans can get the artist to tour wherever they want, the artist makes money performing to full houses of supportive fans, and the venues are filled and make their money. Sure, it’s not perfect, and it may not work for everybody. It may not work. But its another example of the wondrous artistic industry new technology can enable, and a reminder that just because the music industry is ‘failing’, it doesn’t mean harm will befall the music. In fact, it might just improve it


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