Circles & Soundwaves
Feature: Music Industry vs. Music Scene

By Jessica Goldman.

Just a few short years ago, bands dreamed of signing to a big record label. It was the only way to get your music heard by millions of people, and it was pretty much the only way to sell music, sellout shows, and gain fans.

            Yet now that this is not necessarily the case. The music scene and the music industry do not really run in the same circle anymore, at least for the most part. Yes, bands do still sign to labels and, I believe, they do still need help of labels to reach mainstream audiences. However, with the Internet, signing to a label is not the only way, and maybe not even the best way, to reach out to true music lovers.

            Take Orange County indie rockers Well Hung Heart, for instance. Comprised of newly engaged Greta Valenti and Robin Davey, the band releases their music independently. And guess what? Without the help of a label, in just over a year they’ve gained over 30,000 Tumblr followers, with numbers growing by the hundreds each week. Sounds crazy, right? Tumblr, among other sites, has been a way for many bands, like MS MR and the late My Friday Slacks, to promote their music. My Friday Slacks was a small band out of Pittsburgh that found me on Tumblr! How they found me, I have no idea, but I liked their music and followed them back, and so did many others. This way of spreading music is so unique that it may become one of the best ways to promote music in the near future.

            Blogging has become a BIG way for bands to spread their music without needing to sign a record contract. Bands do not necessarily need a label to get their song in a commercial or perform on Late Night television to reach a wide audience. Blogging is another way in which the music scene and the mainstream music industry hit some differences. Take San Fernando Valley bands HAIM and The Neighbourhood. These two bands have become two of the most blogged about bands of 2012 – just follow the Neighbourhood’s Tumblr page to see just how many times their music videos have been blogged about by sites all over the world. Both bands have recently signed to labels, but being blogged about came way before the label deals. The Breaking More Waves blog (UK) recently posted their Blog Sounds Poll 2012 to find out the favorites of the most blogged about bands of the year. HAIM came out a clear winner, with The Neighbourhood in 5th, proving how much blogging is becoming a real influence on the music scene. People are looking to blogs to find out what is hot and up and coming, not necessarily labels. These bands may not become platinum selling artists (at least not just yet), but they have won the hearts of thousands of loyal fans all over the world thanks to the Internet.

            Just read what the blog had to say about Ed Sheeran, one of the biggest breakout artists of 2012 – "First, because bloggers were asked to name what they considered to be the best emerging talent. ‘Best’ doesn’t actually mean ‘commercial big hitters’ – it really means ‘aligns with my taste’ and many of the blogs represented on the poll have underground / leftfied / indie tastes or specialist taste. For example, in 2012 Ed Sheeran had one of the biggest selling albums in the UK, yet his song ‘The A-Team’ was blogged about by only 1 UK based Hype Machine listed blog (this one).”

            Crazy! So, what is more important to a band: being blogged about or being number one on the Billboard charts? Hopefully both if they dream big enough, but being blogged about, playing tons of local shows and creating hype on social media in this day in age are, truthfully, just the things small bands could hope for. Bands have to break through the clutter because there are tons and tons of indie bands trying to make it big. If a band can break through that clutter, even in just the online world, that band might just be big one day.

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