To celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the creation of the World Wide Web, we’re taking a look at the way the internet has changed the musical landscape in our latest blog.
From instant access to millions of artists, songs and performances to being able to immediately upload your new tracks to a global audience, the internet has provided modern musicians with a plethora of options to help inspire and share their sound.
Here we take a look at the top 6 ways the internet has helped shape the current music industry:
From the way artists release their tracks to the way we consume them, streaming has tipped the music industry on its head.
The roots of online music streaming began with the likes of peer-to-peer file-sharing services like Napster and Limewire in the late 90s.
Apple jumped on the bandwagon with the creation of their iTunes service in 2001 before Myspace launched in 2003 and quickly began to be responsible for launching the careers of artists including Adele, The Weekend, Avicii and Arctic Monkeys.
In April 2006, Gnarls Barkley became the first act to hit number 1 on the Official Singles Chart with downloads alone and with that streaming solidified its place in music history.
Nowadays with the prevalence of services like Spotify and Apple Music that allow consumers to access music quickly and easily from their mobile phone, sales of physical music have begun to dwindle.
A resurgence of nostalgic vinyl buying has seen physical copies claw back some sales but streaming is undoubtedly the new champion of consumerism within the music world. Will we become subscription only music consumers in the future?
2. REMOTE RECORDING
It has never been easier to create, collaborate and share music. The internet has opened up the ability to quickly record and share your performances with others who can then add their own parts to the track without ever having to meet up.
The perfect situation for the introvert or long-distance musician; having the capability to record something to an app on your phone, share it with a friend on the other side of the world who then collaborates on it and sends it back all without leaving the house is pretty cool. And with things like cloud storage, email and instant file sharing, it’s never been easier to contact other musicians, work on projects remotely and then release your music to the world.
Even chart-topping hits utilise this method with artists such as Oli Murs gaining rap features from the likes of Snoop Dogg without the two ever actually having met each other!
You can technically create your own virtual band that can rehearse, recording and perform together all online without ever meeting, which in turn has opened up a world of opportunities to those who weren’t able to collaborate before for whatever reason. The internet has accommodated the creative process for many under-represented musicians.
3. INDEPENDENT PUBLISHING
Gone are the days of needing a label, manager or agent to get your music out there and bag yourself some gigs - the internet provides all musicians with access to an instant global audience! You can record a track in the morning, mix it in the afternoon and have it up online before the end of the day, ready for people to check out wherever they are in the world.
That’s pretty amazing!
With the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Snap Chat, etc., there have never been so many free ways to share your music with the world. Self-promotion is available to all. Let people know about your upcoming gigs, share a new music video, sell band merch, release new tracks - you can do it all on social media without having to pay to do so.
That said, as amazing as social media is, it does mean we are now in an overpopulated musical landscape with every artist competing to be seen and heard. Although exposure has become more readily available actually standing out from the crowd has become much harder, and with funny viral videos gaining more attention than painstakingly crafted music it can be frustrating. And let’s not forget about those internet trolls, either!
4. ARTIST DISCOVERY
Contrary to the end of the last point, sometimes it works out pretty well for artists. Free streaming and social media platforms are responsible for launching the careers of some of the most successful artists of all time.
Adele was discovered by her label XL Recordings when her friend posted a video to Myspace of her singing back in 2006. She’s now a 6-time Grammy award winning artist with her “21” album becoming 16 times platinum. The Weekend gained attention after posting 3 tracks on YouTube in 2011, and then went on to hit the top of the Billboard Hot 100 list with his song “Cant’s Feel My Face”. Justin Bieber was spotted by talent scout Scooter Braun after he posted a video of himself performing at a local singing competition on YouTube. Today he’s a 3-time, multi-platinum record selling artist with a massive international fan base. After posting demos to the site PureVolume, Panic! At The Disco were discovered by Fall Out Boy bassist Pete Wentz who signed them to his Decaydance record label. Their first album went on to sell over 2 million copies around the world.
There are countless examples of artists who have gone on to become huge global successes following their discovery on social media who perhaps we’d never have heard of if it weren’t for the internet.
With services such as Bandcamp the monetisation of music has been put back into the hands of the creators.
Bands and artists don’t need a label or distributor to sell their music anymore. The internet provides the advertising reach to get your music out to audiences and provides you with the ability to sell your music without even needing to create a physical product, therefore allowing you to dictate how much or how little people should pay for your music! Bandcamp allows you to essentially create your own music store without the overheads that come with a real-life shop.
Plus, doing it yourself means there are no middlemen to take a cut. However, hosting sites may take a small percentage of the sale, which is nominal in comparison to the amount that labels could take.
Similarly, you can easily advertise and sell band merch online to your fans, as well as dictating where you want to play gigs and what you charge, and things like living room gigs have become popular, providing a direct no-nonsense transaction between the consumer and the artist.
Artists no longer need to rely on venues and ticket sales to make money from performing, and the internet provides the ideal way to discover and promote new performing opportunities.
6. ONLINE SHOPPING
Last but not least, the way we shop for music online has completely changed. Not just in terms of records, but in terms of music gear too.
We no longer need to go into a music shop to find out about the latest musical instruments. There’s a plethora of information online including reviews, gear specifications, and competitive pricing to help you find out about, decide upon and buy the ideal equipment for you.
Of course, there’s nothing like the experience of trying something out for yourself before you buy at your local music shop and getting friendly, expert advice from the store staff. But we know ourselves - if you want to hear how a new cymbal sounds, there’s a YouTube video for that. Wondering what new specifications this new guitar has? There’s a blog about it. Interested in hearing that new synth? There are samples that you can listen to. We know this is how you shop now, which is why we make sure we try to cover as much gear as possible on our YouTube channel, in our blog and in our product descriptions at PMT Online!
But like we mentioned before, you cannot beat going into a PMT Store. And lucky for you, there’s 15 of them across the UK that you can pop into to try out all the latest music gear, have a cup of coffee and chat to fellow musicians while you’re there too.
Let us know in the comments what impact the internet has had on your relationship with music!