Hey there, you hot mess, it’s 2005, MySpace messaging you crunk peeps from the past with a totally hott message, so listen up.
If you’re a music lover in 2015 – and you’re here, reading this, so it’s safe to assume that you are, fo sheezy – then there are a few things you should know about your, ahem, current status.
First of all, you – yes you, the one reading this – are directly responsible for the absolute interplanetary, warp-drive, ‘let’s-tear-this-space-time-continuum-a-new-one’ success that most of the music superstars in your day are right this minute enjoying. In a freakish turn from expected events, the openness of the internet has not, as we here in 2005 were certain would happen, resulted in the dismantling of the Record Label as we know it, freeing the market and balancing the scales. Au contraire.
The bands and solo artists making the big bucks in the industry have only ended up making more money, getting more media attention, and becoming more popular, and thus immeasurably more valuable to the record companies representing them.
And. The same power you wield to bestow such wild, unbridled, never-before-witnessed prosperity upon those lucky few hundred entertainers has also resulted in the widening of the pay gap between them and, well, every other musician out there.
It’s a sizeable chasm of unprecedented size: MIDiA Research is one company that has been using analytics to track the progress of digital music, and a report released by them last year showed a staggering 77% of all the money in the industry gracing the bank accounts of the top one percent of global superstars.
In short, fancy future folk, you probably don’t realize how influential you are in this, the new music business battle royale.
It’s your choices: your likes and dislikes, your skips, saves and shares, that determine who makes it, and who flakes it. If you’re in any doubt about how true this is, take a look at viral victim/sensation Justin Bieber – discovered singing humble covers on youtube; promoted like there was no tomorrow – and you’ll see what I mean. What you are capable of.
Look at your eyes. You’re already drunk with power.
So how should you flaunt – I, ahem, mean, responsibly apply all this newfound sway?
- Click (or swipe, or tap…) wisely. Intelligent analytics are scoping out every aspect of everything you do online, and there’s big money in being able to predict what people are going to want next. If you have a favorite unsigned band, follow them on social media, like their posts, and share their videos. Check in, tweet, Instagram and Snapchat from their gigs.
If they’re on Spotify, even better. Add favorite tracks to your shared playlists, that way other people can discover them on their own time, rather than caving in to your constant OMG ballyhoo.
- Interaction is EVERYTHING. Websites like WeDemand allow you to act much like an old village council, telling venues and promoters what bands are wanted where. IndieGogo and other crowdfunding sites let you pitch in when it comes time for an artist to create something, like an album or a run of t-shirts. You can even help send them on tour. And there’s usually a sweet, VIP bonus for digging into your pockets and getting involved.
Other sites, such as Patreon, let you give them money – just because you like them.
- One word: collabs. If you’re the creative type, why not get in touch with an artist you really like and offer to work together for mutual benefit? After all, they’re looking for fresh ideas and constant exposure as much as you are.
Are you an artist? Offer to design gig posters, t-shirts, or use your likeness in some rad graffiti somewhere strategically placed. If they like your work, they might end up asking you to design some album art, which would be dope AF.
Musician yourself? How about a remix or mashup? Heck, even a cleverly executed cover of one of their songs can be a great way to show support and appreciation for the work and inspiration of others in your genre or location. This can sometimes lead to working together – on a track, perhaps, or, if you have really good chemistry, an album, split seven- inch (yep, people still do this; vinyl is the top selling purchased music format after digital, and sales are up 54%!), or bill sharing at gigs and on tours.
Can you write? Offer to review songs or albums, then submit your work to blogs and websites that might publish your work as a guest blogger. Exposure for everybody!
Travel blogger? Seek out new bands in places you travel to and blog your heart out to your followers. Take photos and videos and show the rest of the world what they’re missing.
Surfer, skater, or parkour perfectionist? Ask for permission to feature a song in one of your promos. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a song while watching a surf video and Shazammed the crap out of it so that I could add it to my “How to Get Through This Workday Alive” Spotify playlist. This approach is equally great for animators, videographers, and anyone with a smartphone/GoPro and a vision.
- Actually go to their gigs. I know it’s hard, but you can do it.
So what we’re saying is this: the millenial music lover has so much opportunity to be connected to the up and coming artists he or she loves. With all that say at your fingertips (literally), and no end in sight to the innovation which continues to break down walls between observer and observed, there’s never been a better time to have your say. Like a true music superfan.
Take it from me, your old pal, 2005, champion of MySpace, the one who started all this internet band business in the first place.