This is the final chapter in the series of articles under the banner of “Get On Up! Get Into It! Get Involved!” I’ve devoted my column to how we as a community can help the music & recording industry rebuild itself to the level of excellence that was set forth by those whose passion was and is to create good music for the public. This chapter is dedicated to how we could use the Internet the way record labels, radio & TV have been a part of promoting music.
Let’s start with radio programming. Unless you are in the biz and think that everything is A-O-K, commercial radio in the USA is one big mess. Very few stations are locally owned, even fewer are locally operated and let’s face it – voice-tracking (having an announcer pre-record their “breaks” and weather forecasts) is here to stay despite radio’s desire to maintain a local presence. We all know that music on commercial radio is limited to a small list of songs whereas community and/or public radio may have a variety of shows even these programs can only play so much music.
What to do? Host your own radio program on the Internet – it’s easier than one thinks. The World Wide Web has opened up several possibilities for music lovers to host their own programs – especially a show featuring original music that has not been released on a label. Web sites such as www.live365.com allow folks to produce and host their own on-line radio show for a fee (to cover music clearances). This is an excellent way for an up-an-coming artist or act to “test market” their works to see if listeners like what they hear.
As far as television is concerned, one can research if there is a program on public television or a cable access show that gives exposure to local artists. If no such program exists get yourself a decent computer camera & audio software so you can produce a show on-line. Channels such as You Tube have several folks already doing this and receiving feedback for their works. In fact, vocalist Arnel Pineda was hired by the legendary rock band Journey to be their lead singer after the group saw the feedback Arnel received for his performance on YouTube of their works (and yes, Arnel’s vocals do somewhat resemble that of Journey’s great front man Steve Perry).
Finally, a record label and yes, I still refer to music on discs as records. The term “D-I-Y” not only means “do it your self” but it also was a term folks used to describe acts that funded and released their own works. Many music people have done this for decades – my personal favorite is rock/folk singer Ani DiFranco who has released over 20 albums on her own Righteous Babe label since 1989 (Ani still operates the company out of her hometown of Buffalo NY while she lives in New Orleans with her husband & daughter). Nowadays, having a record company is easier than one thinks – all you need is a computer, professional music software (Pro Tools, Adobe Audition), a digital mixing board, studio microphones, your chosen instrument(s), blank CDs and a good graphic design program for the artwork. Record your work, have it mastered (having a good engineer working with you does help), burn the music onto disc, print out copies of cover art with track listings, have some plastic jewel cases handy, sell the discs wherever you perform and through the Internet (via your own web site and You Tube) and – voila! – you are in the record biz! Another consideration would be having your music available via download. On line companies such as CD Baby are great at helping independent acts sell their music through downloads and having CDs available. Just think – an on-line radio show, music videos via You Tube, making the music at home, selling it via downloads and CDs…who the hell needs the major record labels!
I do hope these articles have given both new and older music folks some food for thought. In order to raise the bar of the music biz to a standard of excellence, both veterans and newbies need to be involved and it’s got to start in our own communities. Don’t wait for the big labels or commercial radio to turn things around – that’s only going to happen if we do the work on the local tip and make some noise (or good music, I should say). To all who have the talent & the passion I say good luck and let’s make it happen together.
ANI DIFRANCO'S WEBSITE - http://www.righteousbabe.com/