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MP3s are a fad like any other. Sure, digital music files will most likely be around forever and will continue to grow, however it’s probably premature to say that it will be the end of the physical product. Digital files are in response to a quality of music- disposable. There is no commitment in a digital file as it can be obtained and erased with a click of a mouse. You may throw a track on your iPod and rock it for a while until a hot new track comes out and you need to make some space. Then it’s like you never had the song in the first place. Digital files are being heralded as ‘the future of music,’ but as someone passionate about great music, I find that somewhat sad. If the future of music is disposable, replaceable and forgettable, then I am glad I hung onto the cds that I purchased, because it looks like I’m shit out of luck when it comes to new music.

Newcomers to the music industry are putting all of their eggs in the internet basket, the polar opposite behavior of old timers who think if they close their eyes and wish it away things will return to ‘normal.’ The web-obsessed entrepreneurs are trying to bank in on the theory that people live their lives almost exclusively online. They live there, they work there, they shop there, they hang out there, and it’s where their friends live. As MySpace and other sites have shown us, the novelty WILL wear off. Young Americans, especially, do not have the attention span to make a real commitment to something like a website, no matter how many people are on their buddy list and no matter how addicted to it they once were. The internet is unreliable, and I am not talking about connection. Sites, often times, are here today and gone tomorrow. Those who do stick around and obtain some level of popularity are quickly purchased and commercialized, stripping it of all ‘cool factor.’

Those in favor of internet only marketing cite the success of Gnarls Barkley as an example since their iTunes sales were so impressive. It seems they have already forgotten how much they spent on television advertising and the large amount of radio play they received, not to mention the video and press. The internet buzz and promotion definitely played a part, but it was in no way their sole outlet for promotion. What got people interested was the band name. It’s clever. Their music is unexpected. A name like Gnarls Barkley conjures up all kinds of assumptions, none of which are realistic. Again, clever. The song was good, hence the downloads. The album, however, is quite another story. If digital files have replaced anything, it’s the single, which hasn’t really existed in the US for years anyway.

One thing has become very clear over the last couple years- things are changing. Everyone is looking for a way to make music marketing easier. The industry wants a simple formula they can plug any artist into and be successful. Unfortunately, that is no longer a possibility. Things have changed and they will continue to change. Cookie-cutter marketing is no longer an option. You need great, unique artists, and you must market them in great and unique ways. If the artists are original and are bringing something special to the table, why would you even consider working them the same way as Joe Average and The Typicals? I’m sorry, but it’s not going to be easy, nor should it be. As professionals in this business we should be armed with the creativity, ingenuity and passion to be successful and work with successful artists. If you can’t take the heat, get out of the oven.


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