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Is music ever enough?

Ed Cooper
51589085 300x214 Is music ever enough?

Napster founder Shawn Fanning.

In 1999, Shawn and Josh Fanning pioneered something that would change the music industry – Napster. In May 2000, another P2P file-sharing site was coined – LimeWire, and in 2003, Pirate Bay set sail. All three sites birthed the ideological and ever-so-simple downfall of the music industry as we know it today. Every internet user could share and download music for free, destroying profits for artists and bands alike worldwide. Both popularity and dependable fanbases counted for little after the spawn of this bittersweet triumvirate.

Nowadays, even the ‘good guys’ of the music sharing industry – Spotify and SoundCloud – allow their respective users to download music for free, but with the consent of the contributing artist/producers. Any keyboard-wielding person can find an album for free in a matter of minutes; especially if they look in the right places. For every artist wanting to make a profitable record, there must be a cherry on top of that decibel-sprinkled cake for them to make it so.

With every murmur comes a movement and every moment has a purpose. 2010 and 2011 have seen bands and artists unite in this seemingly infinite fight against musical piracy. We’ve all seen the sell-out arena tours on MTV and the multi-million dollar music videos on YouTube, but artists need more than one string to their bow.

The end of 2011 see’s Welsh rockers The Blackout provide an instant DVD of each individual performance of their tour, where fan boys and girls alike can snatch the DVD after the set and take it home to recount the night to their heart’s content. Rising US rapper Mac Miller promised his fans on a UStream session that if 100,000 pre-orders were made, he would drop his next record – Blue Slide Park – earlier than expected; winning hearts, minds and ear canals.

UK titans You Me at Six recently released their 3rd studio album Sinners Never Sleep, which brings with it a promotional DVD on the life and times of the band as the fans know it to be, with Dispathches-esque originality to the story, exposing a side a band only the loyal, financially available fans would be able to see. It is aspects like these that give music producers something to give back to fans that are willing to part with their earned (or un-earned) money.

Moreover, the sensitive 65 Days of Static rewarded adoring fans after 5 albums with a release of a soundtrack to 70s sci-fi flick Silent Running. They said “Thank you for helping us get it recorded and made. We listened to the test pressing and it is warm and loud and sweet”; fans who were late to the soundtrack pre-order are still kept sweet with the introduction of an online store – offering a direct line to the band itself. Aspects which keeps fans closer to the band – such as this – are what drives sales and keeps the illegal music industry guessing what’s next.

Perhaps the most remarkable of favourable fans is the word of Blink-182, with their sixth record Neighbourhoods. The trio have been randomly posting out various pieces of Blink-182 memorabilia to dedicated US fans who ordered the record, such as signed bass guitars, access-all-area passes to concerts, as well as drum skins from Travis and the like. UK band Officers use art to promote their musical endeavours, with recent displays in Rough Trade which can be seen here, the band built a black shed in which fans and future fans alike could sit in and listen to the new record. This offers animmersive and interactive way for listeners to see what the group is really about.

It seems that in the current musical hemisphere, both artists and bands alike need more than just honest, professional and heartfelt music to drive sales. Constant innovation two steps ahead of the pirating industry needs to be maintained in order to keep the fan base loyal and the members content.

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