Who's afraid of the big bad web?

June 17, 2002

John Hiler: is the music industry scared of blogs?

I don't think the music industry is not scared of blogs, per se, but rather of the idea of P2P communications, which the "blogosphere" is an application of. This doesn't necessarily mean filesharing (ala Napster), but more of a democratization of information. If I recommend an artist to my 3 readers, someone else may pick up on it. Then, pass it along (and along and along.) No Big Media, no expensive full-page ads, no need for payola.

The Web is the independent musician's best friend.

It drops the cost of reaching listeners much much lower. Instead of needing a record label to ship copies of an album across the country and promote those albums on MTV, in print and on radio stations nationwide (at a high cost), I can put up a web site for my band (this would be much more effective example if the web site for my band was up ;)), where people from all over the world can download MP3s, buy the album and merchandise and hear directly from the band. Then, I can start browsing for widely-read sites of people with similar musical interests to mine. Convince them to have a listen, and they might plug it to their readers and friends.

Actually, I misspoke above-- the listserv is the independent musician's best friend.. E-mail makes it very cheap to send out mailings to a list of any size-- unlike post cards in the mail, there is essentially no marginal cost to sending out your email announcement to another subscriber. And, these mailings are more or less personal communication from the band to its fans. Just as blogs allow writers and readers to be closer together, the internet does the same for musicians and their listeners.

Anyone can start this process with a FREE hotmail/yahoo email account and a FREE page at MP3.com. That's a much lower cost of entry to worldwide* exposure than getting a label to offer a deal.

*referring to the potential geography of internet-acquired listeners, not so much the reach. The catch of this type of online self-promotion is that your "worldwide" audience is not going to be very large. In all likilihood, the level of success will be lower than stardom. BUT, without the high costs of a major label contract, the level of fame needed to reach profitability is much lower.

Posted by Andrew Raff at June 17, 2002 04:33 PM