The internet revolution that is web 2.0 has brought untold promotional power into the hands of people who we would have otherwise never heard about. Websites like youtube and myspace have become institutions in of themselves turning hobbyist musicians into internet celebrities or even real celebs. We all know about the Tay Zonday‘s of the world, that will never be more than an internet celebrity, but what happens when these internet stars make the transition from the internet world to the music business?
The recent signing of such artist as Sean Kingston (“Beautiful Girl”), Soulja Boy (“Crank Dat”) and most recently Esmee Denters to Justin Timberlake’s label off the strength of her youtube clips indicates a stark change in the way artist are created. Pre-internet artist would have to wait years doing extensive leg work, such as touring, releasing their own independent albums and videos, in order to build a relationship with their fan base. This relationship building component was vital as when the artist eventually signed to a major, that relationship could naturally transform the fan into a consumer and the artist into a star. Now a days, an artist can be signed over night based of youtube and myspace views.
This approach is counteractive as although an artist may have ten million myspace friends or one million views on their youtube clip this doesn’t necessarily translate into sales and more importantly, for the sake of music, this may not create a real artist. So far, Sean Kingston has failed to go gold and Soulja Boy’s album may likely follow. I am not even impressed with Esmee Denters’ singing abilities, (I am sure we have all heard much better on myspace/youtube). Web 2.0 has blurred the distinction between the genuine artist and the guy who says “let me just try this out for fun”. In other words, the internet has turned the hobbyist into the star. With no real, blood, sweat and tears behind these artist, they will only further water down the music as they may not be bold enough to push the creative envelope. After all, they made a myspace page before even doing a show.
My advice to any upcoming artist is to put years into your craft in order to really develop your sound, you should at least be doing this for ten years if you truly want to create music that is timeless. Otherwise, you are just whoring yourself out to the record company and your flash in the pan music will be forgetton in a year or less. Now most will say, so what they made their money. And I would respond “yes” but they destroyed the culture and as far as the history books go they will likely be relagated to a VH1 “Where are They Now” special. But hey if you think Soulja Boy’s album is a classic, maybe I’m just wrong (highly unlikely).
Also check out this deal for 500 free songs from Itunes (only for U.S residents). It’s good to stock up on some hard to find music, not to mention legal downloads that support the artist. Plus, Itunes makes it easier to find the damn song anyway.