Tuesday, May 8, 2012

YouTube takes over the music industry

Given that I've posted about the rapidly changing music industry a few times before, I was intrigued by my old friend The Red Cowboy's post this morning about the increasing number of musical acts that are getting discovered on YouTube these days. He wrote:
You've all seen the video of the group playing one guitar and singing Gotye's Somebody That I Used to Know and it's extremely impressive. I didn't post the video here because the song simply isn't one of my favorites but on a long drive to Louisville this weekend one of my buddies shared with me that they cover a bunch of songs. So check out Walk off the Earth because some of their other covers are more impressive than the Goyte one, like this one... 
As you can see the video is from October of 2010 and this just goes to show what YouTube has done to the music industry. Soon to be gone are the days of touring to get noticed and here is a time where you can make a name for yourself and get signed by playing on YouTube.  The one thing that I really enjoy about these successful covers is that the bands tend to be really, really good musicians which is something that has been sorely missing from mainstream music. I'm looking at you Beiber.
I thought the Cowboy's take in the second paragraph there was both interesting and ironic, and I couldn't help but post a comment on his blog, which I'll reprint here:
It's ironic that you finish off your post with a shot at Bieber, who (along with Soulja Boy) basically pioneered the YouTube-to-stardom path in the music industry.  
You'll still see plenty of untalented acts in the YouTube-ized music industry (see Rebecca Black). In fact, you'll probably see more of them than ever before, because there's no need for a label to make any upfront investment. But it's also less likely that true talent will remain undiscovered for very long, and that's a good thing. Unfortunately, I don't think we can get the good without accepting some of the bad. Nature of the beast.
Progress in the music industry has been and will continue to be uneven, as it tends to be in all areas of society and the economy. Sometimes good developments bring unintended consequences along with them, and we simply have to accept those unintended consequences (or else figure out how to deal with them).

In the case of the music industry, YouTube has helped break down the significant barriers to entry that previously existed (and those barriers were stronger in the music world than in almost any other industry). That means that it's easier for ALL artists--both talented and untalented--to get noticed these days. Sometimes, it's difficult for us to sort out the good from the bad, especially since we as consumers aren't used to having to do this kind of sorting (we're accustomed to having been force-fed whatever the labels wanted to sell).

Untalented acts like Rebecca Black will sometimes find a way to slip through our filters, and we won't necessarily pick up on all of the truly talented acts that are out there. There will be growing pains as the artists and consumers both adjust to the new paradigm, but I think it's clear that the more democratic system is better for all parties in the long run. But in the meantime, we're probably going to have to deal with more crappy music, not less. So be it.

[The Red Cowboy]

No comments:

Post a Comment