By David Troya-Alvarez | Music Content Writer | DamageControl7Media | March 24, 2015
To many this is no longer a shock, but the reality is that we live in a digital world and are further pushing ourselves away from content we can physically touch. There was once a time when music would have to be obtained exclusively from a record store, in which you would have to physically travel to and from the store, browse through all the different available records, and finally purchase a record, sometimes without even being able to hear it until you got home to see if you even like it. Now, anyone can download an entire album within minutes, browse through content rapidly to see if they even enjoy it, and finally be able to have thousands of songs on devices smaller than a wallet. However, piracy has been one of biggest issues in the music industry as record labels are finding it difficult to generate sales due to a majority of their content being posted online for free from pirate websites. With that being said, how can we save the already suffering music industry?
Now I know what you’re thinking. There is no denying the fact of the ever-growing problem of piracy has made us forget about spending around $10 on an album, and instead we can now download virtually anything for free just by doing a quick search. However, the Internet has managed to create something worth more than physical sales, and has instead created hype. Our society focuses on viral content that gets shared rapidly to millions across the world, and the music industry has caught on.
One of the more recent examples of Internet hype is the latest release of Toronto’s very own, Drake. Dubbed as a mix tape, Drake released “If You’re Reading This Its Too Late” this past February through iTunes with no prior announcement. The result? The Web went wild with everyone trying to get their hands on the new release and ultimately resulted in 495,000 sold copies in only three days. In addition, the album managed to achieve several accolades such as being number one on the US Billboard 200 list, as well as number one in Canadian Albums (Billboard). On top of all of that, Drake managed to chart 14 songs simultaneously on the Billboard Hot 100; a record that was unmatched for 51 years by the Beatles.
So what does this prove? This stunt proved that a physical release does not hold as much value as hype due to the fact that you can’t actually buy hype. Hype is word of mouth, or a shock factor that goes against a normal practice, and Drake managed to do just that. By using the Internet to his advantage, Drake managed to capitalize on spontaneity, and also by the fact that no one had a copy to pirate online yet, which resulted in massive sales upon the initial release of the album.
Now to many already established artists, this stunt can be fantastic as it has been for Drake. However, for new artists this can be a nightmare due to the massive costs of creating their own professional productions, as well as the overwhelming amounts of competition from already established artists. So, how can the Internet increase the exposure for those trying to make a name for themselves as artists?
In the electronic dance music world, music producers have managed to capitalize on the fact that anyone can make music. Producers such as Nicky Romero, Martin Garrix, Avicci and even Toronto’s very own Deadmau5 have managed to become known worldwide by originally creating their first productions from software available for free online. FL Studios, which is a music production software, has been major entry point for many of these producers, and many of them managed to release chart-smashing songs that were created in their own bedroom. For them, sharing their content online has managed to grab the attention of record labels and has resulted in their ongoing success as DJ’s and producers in the music industry. Some producers, such as Griz, have stuck to only releasing music online for free, and relying on shows to generate their income. Now this may seem like a bold move, but many producers play countless shows around and get paid anywhere from several hundred thousand to over a million dollars for a DJ set. To believe some of these artists were simply people just like you and me making some beats in their bedroom for fun.
Now I’m not saying that the Internet is a permanent solution to solving all of the music industry’s problems. However, the Internet is merely a gateway for allowing artists to share their content fast by creating online hype, and for new artists to share their new projects to potential audiences all over the world.
So the question remains, is the music industry failing because of the fact that we can find anything on the Internet for free? Or is the music industry growing due to fact that content can be shared online.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
David is an electronic music enthusiast with pride in his city. His passion for music has led him to explore all genre variations of the electronic dance music world. While trained as a classical musician, his interests in music go far beyond harmonic and melodic structure, as they focus into the next generation of electronic productions that are evolving day after day.