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Creation and Appreciation of Culture and the Arts

Tech

The commercialization of the Internet in 1995 provoked mixed reactions from every echelon of the music industry. The pioneers of Internet technology were the preachers of change, telling us that this is the future and the sky is the limit, and in a way, they were right. The naysayers, however, had valid and relevant reasons to doubt this drastic change, and were clinging to the organic methods and the ebbing tides of the old ways. Both parties have a point, and only the unfurling of time would prove either one wrong or right. The digital revolution was afoot, and things are set to change.

Beginnings

Around 1999, the first attempts at social media started to rear their likeable heads, and this opened a vast array of opportunities for the music business professionals and musicians alike. From the CEOs of the largest companies down to the underground musicians, now there was an apparently limitless opportunity to acquire new contacts, not only from out of town, but possibly from the other side of the world. A new platform was available for networking and promotion, and by 2003, music orientated social network sites were a global phenomenon, with the market leaders of the time generating twice the Internet traffic than even the top search engines.
All terrific stuff, but musicians were starting to feel a little uneasy. The ‘D.I.Y’ ethos of the old punks and rockers was feeling offended, and was not sure why. This ethos was almost a mantra for serious and proactive musicians. The dedicated musician or promoter would constantly be on the phone, or the move, negotiating contacts and venue possibilities by physically meeting or speaking with the potential contact, improving the chance of establishing profitable leads. This new type of D.I.Y was forcing artists to spend more time alone in their rooms, which in many cases was a place they had worked hard to get away from.

Pros & Cons

No matter what genre or sector of the music industry you represent, there is no hiding from the fact that the digital revolution has markedly improved the process of efficient music production. Some of the packages available for download have revolutionized the production/mixing and mastering process. Gone are the days on analog 8 tracks, saving and re-recording to enable extra track usage. For as little as $30, basic digital recording packages can be downloaded, offering superb sound quality and efficient usage, other more limited options can be downloaded for free, however expect to shell out for the quality products at the premium end of the market. Another helpful aspect of the Internet is the availability of image editing software and design software, this type of product enables the unsigned musician or music businesses to quickly design and print any relevant promotional material (Posters, CD covers, etc.).

Before the advent of the Internet, the artist would have to record using analog home recording equipment, or pay for the hire of a recording studio containing the correct tools. Anybody with a well- tuned ear for sound would recognize in analog recordings a certain warmth and fullness of body within the sound. When designing leaflets and promotional material the artist would have to use the old method of freehand drawing or painting, which is deemed a closer representation of art that is intrinsic within the creative nature of musicians. These methods are seen as an organic progression of the artist, and you do not have to be a technophobe to respect the validity of this point.

T-Shirts, badges, key rings, CDs, posters, mp3 players, and other band themed merchandise is made more accessible by the Internet. There are countless sites offering excellent deals for bands or businesses on this type of item, and the promotional value of these products is exceptionally high. The availability of these sites has improved the overall quality level associated with band merchandise, and ‘merch’ has become one of the few revenue options open to new bands.
The satisfaction of seeing an item that you have lovingly designed and displayed was one of the many boosts to confidence that is necessary in music. A confident approach from a band/artist gives the listener, or potential contact, a surety and confirmation of the quality of the material.

Details of gigs and industry contacts are far easier to source on the Internet, and there are many companies offering different kinds of assistance to fresh artists. These services could involve the elevation of fans on a social networking site, the opportunity to play live shows, competition possibilities or advice of an apparent music professional. All of these seem like a good thing, but you should be urged to read all small print thoroughly, as costs and charges are often not clearly mentioned until registration is almost complete, potentially wasting precious time and effort.

Scams and cons are rife in most industries and music is no exception. Some bands with a small to medium profile may receive emails to the tune of: Dear [Band]; your songs are amazing! I can’t stop listening to [song], please don’t stop making music!

Research will eventually clarify that the email was probably sent by an obscure online promotional site, offering ‘fans like these’ for a ‘modest’ registration fee, and monthly deposit. Always be extra wary of any service that asks for money upfront. The only costs, apart from equipment, that a band should incur are usually promotional, and these expenditures should be carefully monitored.

The Internet has given with one hand and taken with the other. There is no denying that, since the digital revolution, music as a product had decreased in value, making the business end of music perhaps more challenging than ever, but the technology has assisted independent artists in many ways as well.

-Mark A Whitmore

pianohands

People all around the world love music and listen to it in order to relax or have to fun. Whether listening to some soothing classical music to unwind and take it easy or attending a rock concert to dance and have a good time, the therapeutic elements of music are usually quite evident. As a natural way to relax or release stress through self-expression music is excellent, but the considered use of music can actually also have preventative and restorative qualities for the listener.

ABC

Music helps people of all ages with various ailments and concerns to develop a very effective way of overcoming certain difficulties that are associated with a particular type of illness. For example, someone with learning difficulties can listen to a song and its lyrics until it becomes familiar, as this can be useful for teaching the individual colors, numbers, or any other educational subject through the content of the lyrics. This kind of approach can potentially improve the vocabulary of the individual, as well as stretching the concentration span of the listener as they must listen further and further into the song in order to learn the structure and lyrics.

Listening to music is great fun, but playing music is far more fun, and learning to simply make a noise on a drum will help to significantly improve coordination and motor skills. To take this one step further would be to allow a group of people to play their chosen instruments simultaneously. This in effect becomes a free spirited improvised musical experience that has many varied developmental benefits for the participating individuals. This form of musical experience is known to improve social skills and communication ability. Having a “freestyle jam” involves increases in interaction and self-expression, both of which are proven to help many people overcome confidence and acceptance issues.

A study is presently in effect at Goteborg University to ascertain whether a treatment program using rhythm based music will have any restorative or preventative effect on sufferers of strokes. Research is currently being carried out that suggests that the use of music can help to speed up the recovery period for the stroke victim, and the study aims to back this up with scientific research and results. The procedure of using music to rehabilitate a patient is already in popular practice, but this study aims to define which specific changes register a response to several different tests.

Musical Similarities

It is not necessary to have any musical knowledge to participate in the playing of instruments as a way of increasing confidence or any other reason. For those who simply need to relax, listening to slow rhythmical music with soft tones and sparse sounds is a good way to take a break from the hectic path of life. Music is not the only way to have an intense five minute period of relaxation, as many people find that listening to the scattered sounds of the countryside or maybe even listening to whale song has the correct ambient feeling to aid in stress relief.

-Mark A Whitmore