This blog is about future predictions or trends that I see occurring within popular music. I’m going to focus on the shift that is occurring in relation to musicians who choose to bypass record companies, in order to maintain creative control over the music that they’re creating and have the technical proficiency to create new fusions of jazz, dance and pop music. Record companies would normally own the publishing rights to an artist’s work and also pay for an advance for the musicians to record, would pay for recording time in studios, organise promotional and pay for promotional videos and then distribute the artist’s music to various outlets. Given the advancements in recording technology, both music and video, the modern recording artist is now capable of creating broadcast quality music and video and selling their music through on-line music retailer such as iTunes, Google Play, Amazon just to name a few.
The advent of digital technology has had a huge impact on the music industry with the creation of CD and then the mp3 file, which predominantly moved the recorded format away from analogue technology such as vinyl and tape. One of the most obvious consequences of advances in digital technology within the music industry has seen music consumers now being able to access high quality copies of music that they haven’t purchased, via a multitude of avenues such as: CD ripping, copying mp3 files, file sharing torrent sites, and now You Tube to mp3 conversion.
While digital technology has created issues within the music industry on one level, is has created new opportunities for the modern musician to create broadcast quality music with a laptop and recording software such as pro-tools. Musicians are now by-passing the expenses related to music company funded music videos, which are recoupable against future royalties from sales and streaming. This would allow them the creative freedom to produce cutting edge music that may not fit mainstream categories, but still advances the interests of the musicians themselves. The musicians that I’d like to focus on to explain this new wave of You Tube sensation or purveyors of the viral video is a duo that produces cutting edge dance music from Los Angeles called ‘Knower’. The core of this production team is Louis Cole and Genevieve Atardi, both of whom are jazz trained musicians who have borrowed from electronic dance music to create their own fusion of heavily syncopated dance music that has some of the harmonic and melodic complexities of jazz music.
The duo have carved out a niche for themselves with attention grabbing videos that have won them fans internationally and helped them to land coveted performance spots at major festivals in the USA such as Bonaroo. They’ve also made a name for themselves by recording and promoting, via You Tube, hi-energy and complex versions of mainstream pop songs.
While there is no magic formula for the duo’s success, they appear to doing something correctly as their Facebook page banner now suggests that they are now touring internationally.
You’ll notice that I’ve highlighted one of the names of the touring musicians on the image taken from the band’s Facebook page, Johah Nilsson – keys. This is another highly talented musician that plays in a band called: Dirty Loops. Both Knower, and Dirty Loops are bands that have received a high level of musical training and are successfully promoting themselves without the assistance of a record company. Both bands feature in a podcast on the NPR website (National Public Radio network) and a particular show, website page called: Here And Now.
Interestingly, the bands’ bio on a musician’s on-line service for LA based musician’s called: Presskit, the band actively promote their successes on You Tube as their achievements. This suggests that the success of musician’s on-line presence, is fast becoming a very important part of the overall success for musicians willing to self-fund their recordings and promote themselves via DIY promotional videos released on You Tube, which is usually accompanied by a ‘video announcement’, that the song is available via iTunes. Recording, promotional video and distribution is now being handled by the musicians themselves without the assistance of a record company.
Niche marketing via the internet is not only being used by musicians to promote and distribute their music. In the article, Finding New Audiences For Jazz, a New York jazz club called ‘Smalls’, for example, presents a live video webcast and a database of every artist that plays there. The performances are streamed live via the club’s website and attracts viewers from South America, Europe, Australia and Japan. (“Six Creative Presenters Finding New Audiences For Jazz”, 2016). The club has created a label and records concerts and jam sessions with a view to cataloging and creating a recorded legacy of New York Jazz and sharing that with the rest of the world for the benefit of musicians, venue owners and consumers alike.
Digital technology has now enabled musicians now to maintain greater control over the creation, promotion and distribution of their music. This means that the marketplace will now become more open for new forms of music to be widely accessible by large numbers of people and musicians to promote and sell their music, without the traditional constrains placed on them by recording labels, who increasingly need to protect their investment. This means that that more complex forms of music such as jazz, will remain vital as a new wave of highly trained and talented musicians, actively utilise technology to enable them to create new forms and fusions of music while retaining creative control over the recording process and the promotion and distribution of the music.