(Written back in the MySpace days. I should mention that I’m now involved in the music business as a lyricist and personal manager so I’m now one of the people sending out friend requests. My how life has changed.)
So I started going through some of my friend requests – I didn’t make it all the way through but I’ve been making good progress. There are so many bands out there looking for an audience – and I love it.
A few years ago I read an article (and I wish I’d clipped it and saved it) about how all the world’s media was in the hands of about 6 powerful people. Companies are owned by corporations, owned by conglomerates…who, when it comes down to it, are steered by a handful of people. Looking ahead the prospects for our media/news/entertainment choices were grim – and god help us if these people had a political agenda.
But out of this corporate version of an unimaginative hell, rose the indie movement. Just when it looked like the Grecian Formula, tie wearing unspired types were going to rule art by the formulaic laws of focus groups and politically correct blandness, something amazing happened.
Artists stood up and created their own market.
Artists are now in charge of their futures more than ever. Someone like Christopher Paolini, one of the best selling authors of the past couple years, got his start by self-publishing and doing his own book-tour and promotion. Diana Gabaldon first posted her writing on the internet and developed a devoted fanbase. Sites like MySpace and YouTube allow bands to be heard, writers to get their words read and artists to showcase their work.
As the big studios and publishing houses shed off the middle market sellers to focus all their promotional dollars on the sure bets, little indie niches were synergistically rewriting the future. Fans don’t need to settle for the corporate brand of vanilla, in fact they can discover the style and influence of art that suits them and then support it without it being compromised by a corporate censor.
While the ‘big guys’ still exist, they’re whining about the fragmented markets. Music moguls complain about genres being too individualized and publishing houses lose sleep over the gambles they make on single writers. (Stephenie Meyer wrote one in every six books sold last year.) They complain and take more antacids – and ironically buy up the social networking companies.
We’re a capitalist society. I don’t think that’s a bad thing but I don’t like the idea of it sliding from capitalism to dictatorship. If things continue as they are, we have the value of both worlds. Artists can decide for themselves if they want to remain independent and sell their vision without censorship – or they can choose to put their career in the hands of a bigger entity.
So when I see bands sending through friend requests, I take the time to listen to their music. It’s not always for me but I at least give it a chance and take a look at each profile. The fact that these artists are taking the power into their own hands and making something happen for themselves should be rewarded.