You know what I mean by all of this. Sit and think about it for a moment: you sat on the couch up late one night, watching E! or a similar channel, and wondering how it was that bands with such huge cult followings have all seemed to disappear. (You were watching that documentary on the Grateful Dead-were’ t you?).
Or maybe you’re in the boat with those who still do follow some band or other-but we’ll talk about you in a moment. See, free mp3 downloads have changed the cult approach to bands and how much people follow them.
Think about how expensive it is for bands to tour without a major label and the entire weight of the music business machine footing the bill. Let’s think about how that reflects in everything else: how expensive have concert tickets become for consumers? It’s kind of ridiculous, all made so by free mp3 downloads. It’s especially ridiculous in the concert scene when you realize you can get most of the highlights on YouTube for next to nothing. Gone are the days of arriving at the show days early to park your VW bus, camp out, hook up and tune out. Arrived are the days of downloading everything fast and furiously, free mp3 downloads blotting out every other option.
Let’s talk specifics. For bands like Phish, Grateful Dead, Blues Traveler, and others, the Internet doesn’t make in-person attendance a requirement to be part of the scene. Blogs and RSS feeds let people climb right on the bandwagon without anybody standing on top to toss of the freeloaders. As a result, there is less of a communal vibe in general because of these artificial and virtual communities. Newer music fans aren’t as concerned about virtuoso music performances-they don’t care if musicians even actually PLAY instruments at all-and, in fact, parody is fine, too.
Free mp3 downloads and other new technology have brought a lot of this about. Let’s take, for example, the fact that anybody with a webcam and a Casio can be an Internet rock star-I’m thinking of that band (maybe called GO! …?) who made that video that had all of the band members singing the song on treadmills doing a hilarious routine (all extremely well-executed), choreographed by the lead singer’s sister. The lead singer’s sister! Not even a band member-but she was like the captain of her high school drill team or something. Next thing you knew, they were on the Daily Show and the Colbert Report. Now, granted, it was actually a really cute song and the video did basically rock-but it was the visuals that literally sold the band.
So free mp3 downloads and the rest of the Internet have completely changed the face of what it means to follow a band or to be a music junkie, but there still are those diehards out there who go to the concerts, buy the t-shirts, get up to mischief in trailers and behind concert halls and on the hills overlooking the venue and everything else-they just aren’t too common. In fact, it seems more and more that the ones who are the hard-core followers of a given group aren’t the ones who are old enough to be involved in the whole music traveler scene anyway. Why?
It’s because the bands that have those sorts of followings are groups like the Jonas Brothers or soloists like Miley Cyrus-and their followers are all thirteen! So maybe it’s better to say, then, not that free mp3 downloads have killed the music industry; they’ve just changed it. Read more about youtube to mp3.