One of the lesser talked ways to have a chance to become a successful artist or band is to be part of the first wave using a music technology product or shift. This goes back to the very early days of rock&roll. Those who understood the paradigm shift of using amplified guitars, bass guitars, even the new role of the kick drum finally being heard through amplification, they were part of the early day rock&roll circuit and the rest is history. They even play today for big crowds.
The same also happened with introduction of electronic instruments such as synthesizers, the whole new romantic style introduced by cheap synthesizers. Human League, Soft Cell, Depeche Mode, it was just a bunch of musicians in England who saw the promise of using them in combination with pop tunes. Instead of using guitars, they switched over to cheap synthesizers. They are world-known today, and the royalty checks will make their grandchildren very happy.
It’s been one of my pet things to follow such technology trends, disruptive paradigm shifts as we call them in the computing business. I still remember when Yahoo had 20 pages of bullet-listed web links, same with the early day Google web page — not that it’s still classic and to the point. The web revolution was huge, and we are very much in the toddler stage concerning Internet.
Which leads to today’s situation with music technologies and opportunities. I was hoping that the combination of Internet and easy-to-use recording technologies would break the label monopoly – anyone could release anything they wanted. And it happened. However, the amount of boring music is staggering, instead of doing something unexpected, everyone copies each others so going through Mypage page after page reveals the same mush of electronic music. Or in the case of songs in general, same kinds of arrangements and songs, over and over. So it really lead to self-publishing but not in the sense of being unique and have a voice, rather sounding like everyone else.
Someone with a unique sound will have a chance, but being heard is tough compared with the early days, getting a synth and being the first made it possible to become recognized.
I don’t really foresee any huge technological shifts in the music industry just now — I could be wrong — but we have cheap instruments, cheap and easy to use recording gear as well as cheap ways to publish. If someone invents a new synth paradigm, it will just drown in the rest of the synthesized sounds out there. Few consumers are willing to buy specialized audio for pure audio experiences. Games is really the domain for music just now.
I could of course be wrong, and I hope so. There’s something very inspiring to be in the pioneering group of musicians that jump on something new, go with it and get recognized. Please show me something that you think will start another revolution. Meanwhile I will keep my ears and eyes open. Somehow I suspect the revolution will happen in the ‘live music’ arena, especially custom live shows for smaller audiences providing unique experiences.