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Commentary, Grammys, Opinion

2011 Grammys Heralds the Future of Music, the Social Media Powered Independent Musician

Are the independent artists, producers and labels showing the big labels the way of the future? If the 2011 Grammy results are any indication, the answer is an emphatic yes.

I was absolutely astounded, and excited at the same time, that the best album was won by an artist I (Nor anyone I know) had heard of. The results of the 2011 Grammys got my mind racing with thoughts on the future of music. And I’m liking the thoughts that come to mind.

Historically, the music industry could be compared to the likes of a third world nation. It has a large popluation with an overwhelming majority living in poverty. Less than one percent of the popluation make a full time living, and some of them make an obscene amount of money.

The future is powered by the technological infrastructure known as the internet. It has been the breeding ground for new distribution tools for music. Social media has become the latest weapon and it is empowering artists with more control the future of their commercial success.

The trend is ever so clear. Commercial success in music is becoming less and less dependent on a recording contract from a major label. In some cases, a recording contract with major could be the worst path for the talented and hard working artist.

The traditional model for a record label is that in their stable of artists, only a small percentage will be overwhelmingly successful. As this success overshadows the others acts, all resources and focus will go towards the ones that the record executives feel are strongest. This is often to the detriment of the other acts deemed ‘weaker’. So the scenario is that a small number of people (Record execs), determine the future of artists.  An artist that one exec determines as ‘weaker’, could potentially have an audience of tens of millions, that will never hear his or her voice.

Lets fast foward to the future, where 2011 has signaled the begining of the new age of music. Independant artists just like most people in society, and they are connected to family, friends, colleagues and other musicians by online social networks. To draw an audience, share a new song or advise on details of the next gig, is as simple as sending out a status update. With the viral nature of the social networks, the artist’s message can get to a greater audience, exponentially reaching new people beyond any geographical borders.

Commercially, the artist is now empowered by the internet. The artist can sell their music online, tickets to their next performance or merchandise. The artist can develop this ecosystem for its audience to engage with them, and the audience can experience their artist with mix of free and paid for content and products.

For the artist and produce, a direct connection with their audience can be motivational and inspriational. My own Facebook page for music I produced in 2006, has a mix of 60 fans. Half of them are family and friends that I know and am connected with on Facebook. The other half is a mystery as to who they are and how they found me. Whilst the comments and compliments from family and friends is a confidence boost, its the 30 people whom I don’t know that give me this inspiration from a feeling that my own music resinates beyond my own personal borders.

For us independant artists/producers/songwriters I believe the future is bright. It’s time to revisit our craft, our songs and to explore our networks of people. The music industry is begining to grow and mature as a strong industry. Like any other strong global industry, it will employ more people and will better service a greater global customers and audience.

Related Links:

The Associated Press: Grammys sing the praises of independent labels




www.facebook.com/jomarreyes Author’s Music Page on Facebook


About Jomar Reyes

Jomar Lectures in Creative Industries as well as Digital Media in Marketing at the Danish Institute of Studies Abroad. He also runs the Strategic Media Company, a corporate consultancy agency based in Copenhagen.


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