The Changing Music Scene
The new music scene has changed almost beyond all recognition over the past decade. The explosion of different streaming services, social media platforms and DIY release options, coupled with wider access to at home recording equipment, has meant that more and more artists are able to explore their sound publicly and connect with their audience than has ever been possible before.
Similarly to other types of entertainment, like movies, television and gaming, music has gone digital and it seems like 90% of the industry has now shifted to the online realm. The relative ease with which musicians can upload songs and even whole albums to Spotify, Soundcloud, YouTube and many more sites means that they can receive listener feedback instantaneously, and even earn royalties for their work. Previously, this entire process would have been handled by a record label.
Just as trusted entertainment platforms like PokerStarsCasino and Steam have earned users’ trust and therefore built a good reputation as online providers, so have music streaming platforms become the tried and tested way to discover, listen to and release new music. Although there are pluses and minuses to both the traditional and modern forms of music circulation, there’s no denying that artists have far more freedom over their output these days.
Let’s Hear It for the Fans
So, where does this leave the fans? Well, in a significantly better position than they were when physical media was the only option. Rather than forking out a sizeable chunk of money for an artist’s latest album release on vinyl, CD or cassette, listeners can pay a standard monthly fee to a streaming site and listen to as much music and as many artists as they like. Again, there are negatives to this model, as musicians argue that their earnings have taken a blow since the widespread introduction of streaming platforms, but this is now being worked out to the satisfaction of all parties involved.
One of the best aspects about this new approach is that music fans can sample new music first before committing to spending their hard earned cash on a physical copy or download of a whole album. Streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music will even use an algorithm to ‘learn’ the type of music a user enjoys, and then suggest new, previously undiscovered artists and songs to them that they might enjoy, based on their listening habits. For some, this may be a step too far, but for those who don’t have the time or inclination to spend hours searching for new music, it can be a real boon.
Alternatives to the Algorithm
As a hardened music buff, however, you probably don’t want to discover all your new favourite songs through an algorithm. After all, it can only go so far before it starts spitting out music which is the anathema to your taste, or ends up repeating itself a few more times than is comfortable.
So, where else can you look in the vast online library of music? A great place to start is social media. Lots of artists have become very savvy with using platforms like Twitter or Instagram to promote their new work, interact with fans and even post live jam sessions. If you are a fan of TikTok, you’ll also find that the app’s Duet and React features are utilised as an opportunity for conversation and collaboration between musicians and fans. You only have to look at the enormous and unanticipated success of Nathan Evans and his rendition of ‘The Wellerman’ to see the impact that TikTok, and therefore other social media platforms, can have on a song’s reach.
Another avenue to explore is that of artists’ playlists on music streaming services. These can be used as a way to put together all of their own work in an accessible long-playing format, or as a way to show listeners their musical inspiration and personal tastes as a sort of mixed tape.
Keeping It Real
Of course, if all else fails, then there’s nothing wrong with going down the traditional route. Browse through the music on offer at your local record store; speak to other music fans about what they’re listening to lately; listen to the radio and seek out your favourite DJ’s recommendations; and, naturally, attend as many live shows as you can get to, arriving early enough for the supporting acts as well as the headliners. Like any artform, music scenes are created organically through word of mouth, human connection, opportunity and luck. Saying that, it can still be just as satisfying to discover a new piece of music that you really love through the Spotify algorithm, as it is seeing an unknown band warm up the crowd at a live gig.