The Art of Consuming Music in the Digital Age
By Kyle Melton
As the web came of age in the early years of this century, a handful of sites emerged that gave bands unprecedented access to potential listeners. Sites such as Pure Volume and the ubiquitous Myspace enabled artists and listeners to interact on a level of intimacy that had previously been reserved for backstage meet-and-greets. While Myspace served as THE social networking site for several years, their audio player was always sonically inferior and, as they perpetually revamped their site, their inability to effectively serve their audience relegated them to the barren fringes of the Internet. For those willing to do a little legwork, here are a few ways in which you can find exactly what you’re looking for in the world of modern music and make some new friends in the process….
The Blog Boom
As traditional print media such as Rolling Stone and Spin became increasingly beholden to corporate ads and major labels, independently operated MP3 blogs rose up to take the reins of tastemakers in the world of music. While early adopters such as Fluxblog, You Ain’t No Picasso, and Gorilla vs. Bear have continued to champion all manner of underground sounds, there are at present thousands of voices in the blogosphere letting listeners know about yet another great unknown act.
How to distill all this info? There are two ways I’d recommend: read a blog regularly and tune in to their tastes. Most bloggers operate on their own criteria. Over time, their tastes reveal themselves. Second, look at their blogroll [usually in the sidebar]. This will give you an idea of who they connect with and you might find even more resources from which to draw. Additionally, blog aggregators such as the Hype Machine and Elbo.ws can easily tell you what bands and songs are blowing up the Internet and connect you even more with different blogs and artists you might enjoy.
Straight to the Source
While iTunes pioneered digital music sales and Rhapsody stands as one of the top subscription sites, the experience of finding new music through these avenues tends to have all the intimacy of a ‘big box’ retailer. There are numerous specialty sites that have emerged to cater with even greater precision to the discerning tastes of modern listeners. Among the easiest to navigate are Bandcamp.com and TopSpin.com. In both cases, artists receive nearly all monies, and the interfaces for these sites are extremely clean, making navigation painless. It can be extremely rewarding to dive into these sites with simple searches indicating location or musical genre. In addition, these sites offer free sampling of high-quality audio and easy downloads in a variety of formats. Many bands also offer physical products such as T-shirts, stickers, and CDs of their music on these sites as well.
In the Flesh
Once you’ve found a new act to embrace, you’ll likely want to figure out where to see them live, right? Well, there are a number of sites that can help you track them down in the flesh. Both Songkick and ReverbNation allow bands to post details about upcoming shows and enable users to track bands they like. Additionally, both sites allow venues to enter their information so that you can find out about the variety of bands coming to any club.
While an artist can work tirelessly to hone their craft and present an excellent recording and live show, their success ultimately depends on support from their fans. In an era where people are increasingly connected through social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, one simple post from an individual from a band can be more impactful than a dozen write-ups in magazines or on blogs. If you happen to come across a band or artist that you like, do them a favor and TELL PEOPLE. In a world where the individual can feel increasingly powerless, this is a simple way to affect change and determine the choices available in the music marketplace.
Reach DCP Music Editor Kyle Melton at MusicEditor@daytoncitypaper.com and read his blog at thebuddhaden.net.