How to Become a Rock Star in These (Internet) Times

In the old days, a musician’s dream was to get signed by a major music label, which was the path to the “topper most of the popper most,” as Johnny and the boys might say. U2 has (or is it have) a new album; they, as the industry wags have been discussing, might be the last of a great rock bands — or at least the last of the successful big label bands. Ultimately that remains to been seen. But it is true these days that the A&R man — the label guy who could bless you with a chance — is no longer the single gateway. Part of the story is how technology has turned a hits business into a niche business. But a more specific example is this: At the end of his book, Click (reviewed here), Bill Tancer told the story of the Arctic Monkeys:

In 2003, The Arctic Monkeys, a “post punk revival” band in England started handing out demo CDs at their shows. They “unwittingly created a new music distribution system.” Fans started file-swapping the music online. The distribution exploded on MySpace and other sites, where “super-connectors” like Tila Tequila passed the song around and around. Tancer also charts the band, Fall Out Boy, as he saw their internet activity precede their climb to the top of the charts in February 2007.

This isn’t just a fundamental change in the music industry; it’s happening just about everythere, from publishing to e-commerce of all kinds of product and services. The corporate middle-man is obsolete. Of course, we expect that such folks will throw obstacles in the way whenever they can. (It wasn’t that long ago when a few of the telecom giants were trying to get legislation defining different grades of internet traffic. Remember that? Commercial traffic was  to have priority over non-commercial/private traffic, or some crap like that). Anyway, we still have our free internet, and all the opportunities it brings.

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