Digital Music Blogs Bring Music to the Masses
December 24, 2010
Digital music has become mainstream – even The Beatles finally joined the party and agreed to make their music available through Apple’s iTunes store.
It has been more than seven years since Apple launched iTunes, forever changing how we get our music. Digital music is the norm for the vast majority of listeners, replacing CDs and other, even older, distribution methods.
“For consumers, digital music has become a quicker way to get introduced to and obtain new music,” says Allan Kraut, Audio Production instructor at the New England Institute of Art. “You can now have your entire collection wherever you go. It’s transportable, easily accessible, and you can search for specific songs that you want to hear.”
Kraut founded Merch Music, which allows musicians to upload their music and then print out a unique code which they can then sell to fans. The fans then come to the site and upon entering the code, can access the music they purchased. Musicians have the freedom to upload one song or a whole album per unique code. The code prints as a sticker allowing them to package the music with merchandise by sticking the code on clothing labels and other spots. Musicians pay $9.95 for 120 codes and keep any profits made after selling them to listeners.
“It gives bands an affordable way to distribute their music and make money from it at the same time,” Kraut says.
Another way fans are getting their digital music fix is through MP3 blogs, also called musicblogs and audioblogs. They do exactly what it sounds like they do – the blog creator offers music as downloads through the site. Peel is a combination of MP3 blog reader and player, allowing subscribers to stream music almost immediately after it becomes available. Founder Hjalti Jakobsson says that he started Peel as a way to automate the process of downloading digital music for himself.
“I still think it’s a niche – that is it’s mostly for people that really like to be up to date on what is happening in music,” he says. “A lot of my customers are musicians, music promoters, DJs, or people that work in the industry. However, I think that for every music fan there’s a lot of new music that goes unnoticed and the music blogs along with Peel really help discover otherwise overlooked talent.”
Music blogs are also a huge benefit to musicians, Jakobsson says.
“For musicians, getting their music out to the people is mandatory and music blogs really come into play there,” he adds. “A lot of music blogs feature music that is mainly unknown so reaching a broader audience is really important for them.”
But there can be some disadvantages to receiving and keeping music in a digital format. The most common complaint is that there is no physical keepsake when purchasing and using a piece of digital music.
“Some people still think there is value to a physical object that has music permanently embedded on it,” Kraut says. “Digital can feel temporary, like a ghost in a machine that can decide not to let you hear your music anymore, your hard drive might crash.”
Kraut adds that tangible formats of music, like records and CDs, can also give a musician more of a sense of accomplishment.
“Albums also maintain the performer’s intention for the order in which songs should be heard,” he says.
Jakobsson says that there are more positives than negatives to using digital music formats, although he does miss the experience that buying a CD or record provided.
“Personally, I think it’s not as exciting purchasing new music today,” he says. “Before I used to run to the store the day a new album by my favorite artist was released.”
Regardless of benefits and disadvantages of digital music, it does mean that more people can make music, giving the public more options than ever before.
“With digital distribution, there is less friction from maker to user and therefore tons more music available,” Kraut says. “Years ago, if you wanted to record, you needed a studio and thousands of dollars to print records. Now you can do the entire prcess out of your bedroom.”
But just because it might be easier for anyone to create digital music, it doesn’t mean they should.
“Just because you have a pen doesn’t mean you can write Harry Potter,” Kraut says.