Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Where has all the music gone?

You better keep up, or you’ll end up like me. I used to be a professional music enthusiast, the go-to girl when it came to music news. But the digital age overpowered music as I knew it faster than Paris Hilton’s singing career, and left me hanging behind this new tech-revolving world.

Long gone are the days of the mysterious singer/songwriter knocking on the doors of record companies and recording studios with his guitar. Today’s new striving artists barely need to leave their bedrooms, assuming those are accessorised with a computer, broadband and an affordable mixing and editing program, instruments optional.

I was triggered by Tomer Run’s story, a friend of mine who gained exposure to a new American series, Bar Karma, from the comfort of his humble home in North London. In a matter of days he set up a track with a 1960s sound, using the help of some friends and a lot of technology, and enrolled on an online competition. He was announced a finalist the next day.

“I'm starting to do more of that now,” he enthusiastically announced. “I'm getting loads of work opportunities through music-jobs.co.uk. The website indabamusic.com, which arranged the competition of composing a soundtrack to Bar Karma, is a great way to pitch as well, he told me. “It offers fantastic opportunities like remixing John Legend and The Roots.”

The home recording techniques are no secret to any musician: with the right programs you could easily record, edit and mix your own material. “The last time I recorded was with my iphone,” said Omri Ran, long time musician owning his own mini recording studio at home. “That was amusing, I was surprised by its quality! It’s nothing professional  and won’t sound as good as something recorded on your computer, but it’s a nice option.” And when it comes down to publicising, well, the options are growing fast.

We all remember Myspace, the ultimate platform for any beginner artist seeking to share his music with a worldwide audience. “The tide really turned with The Arctic Monkeys, who were the first band to be signed to a major label on the strength of their Myspace following, which opened the doors and ears of the people with the power,” Jon Jefford told me, the guitar player for DeepSeaGreen, a London garage rock band. “Music has shifted and the days of the 60s and 70s are almost gone. People don’t go out to listen to unsigned bands unless they are hyped up in a music magazine, so the only way to reach them is through online means.”

The funny thing is, Myspace is not the hottest thing anymore. That too evaporated quickly, as Gil Zausmer, an acknowledged musician and sound designer revealed. “It completely died out. People  aren’t online anymore and it all seems like one big cacophony of monologues instead of networking.”

While Myspace is ‘yesterday’s news’, it did leave its mark on the evolving industry. Websites like reverbnation.com allow you to get your music into online stores such as iTunes and Amazon.

Whether this is a positive change to music publishing or not is debatable. “Getting songs online is essential, but there are so many acts out there it just gets lost,” Zausmer explained. “There isn’t enough focus for a decent period of time – it’s all too instant. With main firms or channels 15 years ago, propagating music to segmented assemblies, you'd have certain groups listening to certain genres at a certain time, with not as many options as we have today, therefore a 'buzz' or a trend could exist. But what you have now is just a mess, defragmentation of those assemblies and main channels, causing inflation in music conveyance. So no trends, no scenes, no buzz – just mainstream regurgitated crap.”

We could choose to look at it as a new age to music industry, for better or worse. I choose to see it as a new genre of music: artists like Jackson and his Computer Band and The Arctic Monkeys, setting up a milestone in home recording and self publishing, created a fresh sound to modern music. Music is swiftly catching up with technology, and we better hurry up as well.

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