Divide and Conquer

It seems like nonsense to suggest starting a new company in these bleakest of bleak times. Where every turn you take you see buildings for sale and companies closing down or being bought out by their bigger brothers. It’s the classic Napoleonic technique of ‘Divide and Conquer’ and it seems the recession has given larger companies the foothold in this tempestuous economic climate. However, this may be the ideal time (at least for the music industry), for the divided to get a leg up on the big boys. It seems that with the recession more and more people are looking to cheaper, more grass-roots alternatives for their audio fix; going to local (or guerilla) gigs instead of the big headlining nights, house parties instead of raves, and looking to the internet for the latest downloadable podcasts and mixes for their jail-broken ipods.

Once again the internet steps in to even the playing field. Although the tiny independent record shop that would have stocked your new album may have closed down, the internet provides the shop-front for your own individual record shop; selling all your mates new releases and any t-shirts you’ve got lying around. Too much? Only a bedroom DJ or garage band? Try http://www.soundcloud.com for a bit of free publicity. Much like myspace but with the option to download what you like hearing. It also gives you the waveform of the track so you can be really anal and let them know exactly which bits make your spine tingle. All free to download. That’ll sound nice on the new shuffle.

If you find all that relentless searching a bit too intimidating then there are plenty of internet radio shows with downloadable podcasts, equipped with track listings for you to bone up on new artists. Aside from some of the major stations such as Last.fm, which lets you search other artists ‘playlists’, there is a multitude of independent, home-studio operations, often hosting some of the most cutting edge music. Worth a mention also is http://www.mixcloud.com, a sister site of soundlcoud dedicated to bringing more music to you in ‘cloudcast’ form. Which is exactly the same as a podcast except you can’t download it.

So what is the point in trying to sign yourself to a major record deal? It seems all the bigger boys are offering now is a fat bank loan with some heavy restraints. With the current technology in virtually every home studio any album can be recorded and mixed-down on a home computer, then sold independently from your own home, no restraints. All the marketing can be done over the internet and with a little ingenuity you can secure your own tour, unless you want to employ your flatmate as a manager.

If all this free publicity and marketing isn’t enough to make you go out and promote your latest jingle there are people out there dedicated to getting your music out there, for free. Jodie Humphries is the editor at http://www.live-music-scene.co.uk and works tirelessly to promote local bands and artists around the Bristol area. She is one of a few individuals that are doing it purely for the love of it. How she supports herself we don’t know, possibly sucking the life out of young, talentless, boy-bands. Either way she is the life-blood of aspiring music in Bristol and her, and her team, help to show people that the little voices will be heard. So go now, produce.