Heard any good music lately?
The traditional record business may be shifting into a slower gear, but there's tons of excitement driving the independent music world. The reason for this is the availability of music online.
The Internet is a natural community builder. Unlike the print, television and radio mediums, the World Wide Web is immediately responsive, and interactive --focusing exclusively on specific interests while growing a community for the like minded.
The record business is very invested in this concept of creating community, for good reason. Twenty-five years ago, the major labels paid for a study of consumer buying habits. What they discovered was that one of the most significant reasons people bought an album was because a friend had recommended it. Labels immediately began sampling new music aggressively to tastemakers and early adopters.
Twenty-five years later, the trusted referral concept remains one of the most effective ways to introduce new music.
Before the Internet, the cost of this kind of promotional campaign was expensive to launch. Now, the web allows a way to continue that marketing concept at virtually no cost. All that is required is a good broadband. That makes the web a great business equalizer, especially for independent labels.
If your world revolves around listening to independent music, you might want to check out a couple of websites that give focus to the genre.
AudioLunchbox.com is perhaps the most well known site dedicated to the indy scene. An excellent collection of artists can be found here from record labels like Frontier, Razor & Tie, Bar/None, Koch, Devil in the Woods, Vanguard and much much more. The site operates on a very simple basis. The cost is 99 cents a song, and most full albums are $10. There's no contract to sign and Audio Lunchbox offers 30 second samples to audit before purchasing.
Another site focused on the digital downloading of independent music is eMusic. EMusic is built on a monthly subscription fee of ten bucks. For the fee, you'll receive 40 downloads of your choosing, making it the most inexpensive site for indy music. EMusic offer hundreds of thousands of downloads from independent artists both here and around the world, with recordings from labels like Beggars Banquet, Fantasy, Fat Possum, Hannibal, Kill Rock Stars, Matador, Vagrant, XL and Yep Rock. They also release live performances recorded at local venues around the country, under the name eMusic Live. Finally, eMusic has built a credible community site, with commentaries by reputable journalists who weigh in regularly.
If you want to stay up on what's really happening in the indy music world, it's worth hanging out on these sites.
In no time at all, you'll be pleased to have found something wonderful, and when you do, be sure and tell a friend.
This is Celia Hirschman with On the Beat for KCRW.