I saw a tweet the other day that said “Don’t trust music blogs.” There were a few interesting things about this post. First, it was posted by a music blog. It went on to say “[t]rust your own taste and use music blogs as a filter.” So why would they say not to trust music blogs?
It was also interesting because, as technology advances and as the music business changes on an almost daily basis, the way we discover new music is also changing rapidly and not necessarily tied exclusively to music blogs anymore. So, are music blogs even relevant anymore?
It wasn’t actually that long ago, that music discovery came from promotions campaigns and radio campaigns by the major labels who threw millions of dollars into promotions and radio play. New bands were “broken” on radio. If you couldn’t get radio play, or couldn’t afford it, your chances were slim.
As more and more people began sharing music online, music discovery then came from peer-to-peer file sharing. Bands were being discovered through sharing music freely over the internet. Quick side note for those of you who recall those in opposition of Napster, Metallica become popular by giving away free cassette tapes of their music.
I’m not saying music should always be free and artists and musicians shouldn’t earn money for their talents, but all of a sudden a small unknown band could be heard across the world by adding their music to any of the peer-to-peer file sharing networks. Studies showed that most people who downloaded music from these networks also purchased music from the bands whose music they downloaded.
As more and more music became available online, there was more to sift through to find something that you’d actually like. Enter Music Blogs. Music Blogs, written by music lovers, began as a way of sifting through everything to find those gems of undiscovered talent. Typically written for specific genres, music blogs became the go-to for music discovery of the unknown indie band, songwriter, musician, rapper, hip-hop group, new-grass, blue-core, zydeco-punk band or whatever you wanted.
Since blogs were mostly free and anyone could get one, suddenly there were music blogs everywhere. Anyone with a half-baked notion of an opinion could start a blog and post about their favorite music, or favorite music to hate. Again, there was an over-saturation. What used to be the new best way for the independent band to get noticed by other music fans, had now become like the radio stations of only a few decades ago. Only now, it seemed that the “payola” was that of being an already known and established act, or being pitched by an already known and established label, manager or PR company.
And then, with Spotify, the industry changed again. Now it wasn’t about the music you could download and own, it was about how much you could get whenever you wanted. Streaming services have put the music discovery back into the hands of the listeners. Most operate by signing up and creating a “station” or playlist that plays the music you like along with music you may not know but that is similar to the music you already like.
With the music industry standard quickly shifting towards streaming music, we may not need music blogs that much any more. We can now pull up our music streaming software, pull up whatever genre, station or playlist of music we’re currently feeling, and have an endless amount of music ready to go. Of course, it may still be helpful to look at a few music blogs as a filter. But that may be less and less.
As the music industry continues to shift, so will music discovery. With the advance of more and more technology, music discovery may become something we can’t even imagine. However, music lovers will always share music with their friends and fellow music lovers. And that’s what music is about.
How do you discover new music? What’s your favorite place to go for music?