Originally Posted by powerslave_85
I was thinking about this because of a post Jeff made on Facebook. I came to a realization: I think right now is the best time it's ever been to be a music fan/consumer. A few reasons why:
1. Being a casual fan is much more cost-effective
When I was a kid and I heard a song I liked, I had to buy the whole album. Yes, sometimes this would lead to a good discovery, but more often than not it was a waste of money. Nowadays you can choose your songs a la carte. You get what you want without the unwanted chaff.
2. Greater access to artists
Social media has made it much easier to keep in touch with your favorite bands. You can find out about tour dates and release dates within minutes. You're never out of the loop. Before the internet, if you didn't have any friends who were into the same bands as you, you were pretty much screwed.
3. Artists have more freedom
Want to do a digital-only album? Pay-what you want? Special pre-order bundle? Artists not only have more/easier ways of getting their music out there, but they also have more ways to offer their music to fans.
Sure, there are drawbacks to all of these things. Piracy still screws smaller artists. The easy access to music tends to make fans entitled and spoiled. Some of these conveniences take the "fun" out of it (though I think a lot of that is romanticized by nostalgia).
1. Totally agree, and I'll take it one step further -- being truly "casual" about something means I'll probably listen to it on Spotify when I want and never move past that stage. It underpays the artist, but it does pay them. And when I do want to buy something that I truly love, I'm more likely to go whole-hog, 180 gram double vinyl with expanded artwork, whatever the case might be. So again, the artists who I really want to reward, I'm rewarding the shit out of.
2. I got into music in a big way for the first time about 10 years ago and I was going strictly off shit I read in books and magazines about music and from posters on the IMBB. (No wonder the bands I first explored after Maiden were Blind Guardian and Helloween.) I'll take this present music media environment over that any day.
3. True to a degree, but I think labels are still crucial here. Granted, I work for one, but you can't just be a band and put out whatever you want. It's cost-prohibitive to do anything more elaborate than a digital album if you want to tour, and labels also bring with them name recognition that makes them carefully curate your roster. Hell, I'll listen to anything on Profound Lore, Southern Lord and Relapse even if I've never heard of it. Can't say the same about "any atmospheric black metal album" or the like -- there's just too much.
But in general, yes, this is a perfect time as a consumer, and now having worked on the producer-side for about six months, it's been fascinating to watch how distribution has adapted to accommodate this. From the inside looking out, I can say that in the six months I've been at Secretly Canadian I've witnessed four or five new hires, and this is coming from an independent label group in the middle of the fly-over zone. Things aren't as bad as some people would have you believe. You just have to be smart enough to run a business in a changing time.