Originally published July 08th 2014:
This is a huge era for digital development. That much can be taken for granted. It has various implications for different cross-sections of society. Perhaps most famously to those likely to be reading UP, it has been hoisted up as the heretic responsible for the decline of the music industry.
The access to digital music files, largely free of charge, has at once enabled any artist to reach out to the world with their music, whilst hammering in the first nails to the coffin of recorded music’s golden age. However, the relationship the musician has with new media technology is only one half of the equation. Even the poorest can take flight online, soaring into the ether with ease, but what about the people who maintain the landing strip: the listeners.
With the vast oceans of audio options available, the theory that listeners see music as a disposable commodity has received a lot of support. It’s an easy thought to support if like Fleet Foxes you’re touring Japan and playing O2 venues all over the place, but maybe a little harder to embrace for the emerging or developing artist.
However, if one thing is indisputable it’s that the sheer amount of music which is accessible means there are millions of songs clamouring for attention. The advantages of providing music for free as a promotional tool start to slim down significantly. Without something else, the whole process is reduced to a small scale version of the competitive interruption marketing it should have circumvented. Not that adverts and email campaigns have to be a bad thing, they’re just better when they’re handled with a bit of humanity in mind.
This brings us to the focal point for this article: in a community where everyone is shouting to be heard, is shouting more often the best approach when aiming to break through? This doesn’t mean the methods mentioned above, but is rather concerned with the volume (pun intended) and frequency of an artist’s output. It’s something that has already been discussed regarding other art forms, including film, literature, and more recently, blogging. Music, however, is a little fuzzier in this respect, with widely varied public opinion more prevalent than industry standards.
Whereas in the past the norm was to base contracts around the number of album/tour cycles or years – the approximation being that these were around the same time period – the freedom of unsigned artists combined with nostalgia touring has utterly changed the rules. While a good read, this article on Live Unsigned is a good example of how diverse the options are, ranging from a song a week to an album every odd year.
UP’s mission for this week is to take a look at the pros and cons of prolifically turning out musical content. On the one hand, it keeps the artist out there, available for the public. On the other, it could mean a drop in quality or loss of impact from constant exposure. As usually, we’ll be seeking out a real life example in order to dig deeper.
Catch you next week! Or maybe sooner… Would that be over-kill?