What Does More Music Availability Mean For the Artist?

By Daniella Kohavy

George Eliot (the English novelist) once wrote, “I think I should have no other mortal wants, if I could always have plenty of music.” Hmmm, dare we take this literally when relating it to the superfluous availability of music nowadays? It seems everywhere you look in recent years, there are countless amounts of digital services popping up that allow you to seek and release new music. Spotify, a popular music provider, states that with their service, “there are no limits to the amount of music you can listen to. Just help yourself to whatever you want, whenever you want it.” Eek! Sounds a bit overwhelming. So, are our eardrums just about ready to combust in music overload?


But does too much music mean not enough quality? Stephen Garrett, Chief Executive of Kudos (a film and television production company based in the UK) stated, “We are in danger of creating a world where nothing appears to have any value at all, and the things that we make…will become scarce or disappearing commodities.” The digital availability may make our connection with music more disengaging, since we have to sift through more sounds. So the bits of quality that are heard could become tainted by worn out ears. With so much music out there, A&R scouts might become desensitized to new talented musicians. Maybe they’ve heard it all before.

In turn, nowadays you can hear about new “good” music easily on the web, as any music fan bookmarks their favorite music sites or blogs on their computer. Or you might choose to take a long weekend from work to check out a music festival like Coachella, SXSW or Bonnarroo, where you can hear bands you love as well as check out the smaller tents to hear other less-known artists. Pandora innovatively created a way for you to find new music simply by entering one song you dig, which prompts their service to make a station revolving around that song’s style of music. They do all the work for you!

The abundance of networks that keep popping up to make new music available leaves us simply wanting more. More could mean a good thing for the artist. Perhaps we can look at the abundant availability as something positive, since nowadays any musician is allowed the opportunity to let their musical creations reach the masses. Musicians now have many digital outlets that can facilitate their exposure. So they do not have to conform to the mainstream record label masses. They have a fair chance to become the next big thing, even if a major record label doesn’t think so. And, maybe because there is so much music, it will allow fans alone to be tougher critics and rate music on a more relatable level.

So friends, the colossal sea of music could be somewhat frightening for the consumer. But at last, this could mean more for the artist to get a fair shot at success. You don’t even need to do an intense hunt for music if you don’t feel like it. You can allow various digital services to seek and grab for you. Don’t mind if I do!

  • Stainless

    while I suppose there’s something to be said regarding the general “quality” of the recordings for the “days of old” when the labels controlled the markets… the down side was many artists were deprived total creative freedom, and they (the labels) dictated what was recorded, what was released, and what was promoted.
    Now, given the power of home computers and interfaces, most anyone can record “music, and post with the potential of reaching a large audience with few restraints on their creative ‘bents’…. and there is no longer a certain look, or age one must be in order to get their music out. Ironically, the down side is there’s a lot of poorly recorded material suffering from production vacuum (or excess, and with so many layers of pitch correction and effects it’s hard to know “real” from groupings of algorithms.
    however, those with a true talent and something original now have a better chance at achieving some level of success regardless of who they know

  • http://www.myspace.com/hillbillyhellcats Chuck Hughes

    We have done well independently as a niche style band and would never have had a recording released if we had to wait for a label to sign us.

  • http://audioglobe.com Jon

    I think the future is about bringing high quality live music to the masses!

  • http://rockingnikki.com Yana

    It still was good that Labels were controlling Music Marketing at least Music was filtered and now even customers are lost with amount of music and not the best quality.
    Of course it is nice to have more new talents to be discovered and give them a chance, so we hope everything will be on the right places soon.
    http://rockingnikki.com
    I also agree with this:
    “We are in danger of creating a world where nothing appears to have any value at all, and the things that we make…will become scarce or disappearing commodities.” The digital availability may make our connection with music more disengaging, since we have to sift through more sounds. So the bits of quality that are heard could become tainted by worn out ears.

  • RHR

    We should differentiate between quality of recording and quality of musicianship.
    Most of the music that I’m finding is very well performed if not recorded the best.
    For example I found about 10 versions of “Don’t Walk Away Renee”
    The only major label version was by Linda Rondstat and was the best recording but not the best performance.
    I thrilled that the over-produced albums of the old days are no more.
    We’re getting back to what counts. The music.

  • http://www.jamalwindfall.spaces.live.com Jamal

    We are lost in the desert. We come upon a rusty radio. Wait…There is a voice on the other end! HOPE! Our LIFE may carry on and for a moment, our pain is eased. Do we care if the voice on the other end is off key, scratchy, etc? THE MESSAGE IN THE MUSIC KING. Thats how Jamal Windfall randomly drop science son. Peace

  • http://www.clubwaremusic.com Oliver

    The change in production and distribution dynamics requires more skills from a musician than before. Fifteen years ago I would license my recordings to a record label and leave it up to them to craft a marketing campaign that would raise awareness for my tracks.
    Today, it’s not just about being a musician – it’s also about being a marketer. Essentially you need two skill sets to be successful. Some artists love the additional challenge – others don’t. I personally welcome any marketing functions & tools offered (i.e. by tune core) that help with the marketing discipline. Over many years in the industry I have experienced over and over again that great music alone is not enough to stand out and succeed. Great marketing however can really make a difference.

  • http://www.guitaristdiegopalma.com/index.html Guitarist Diego Palma

    I was a radio and club deejay between ’80 and ’95 (before corporate media owned everything). The number of records we received everyday from labels and distributors was enormous. Deciding who to play and promote usually came down to quality of the material, label promotion (and their history) and packaging (to some degree).
    I still believe that real talent will rise above the din of the crowd. As artists, we have a great opportunity today to explore new paths sonically AND decide how we want to market ourselves.
    Of course, it’s a trade-out to some degree. Dollars and time spent developing your brand are usually your own. It’s a full time job writing the music, recording it, producing a finished and legal product, developing a marketing strategy, performing and practicing…and still having time for the family and earning a living.
    But to get back to the original point, more music availability means what has always meant: survival of the fittest. In other words, it takes quality material (a good song is a good song, period) and it takes endurance (how many time could you listen to that song before you just DON’T want to hear it anymore? Once? Ten times? How about never? That is the mark of a great song. Great songs are destined to find their way to the surface IF it’s available. And guess what: Great songs are being made available now more than ever. So many voices from so many talented people. Yes, there are some “musically-challenged” people caught up in the digital revolution, but I think most will fall silent as soon as the novelty wears off.

  • http://www.guitarlincs.com Lisa

    Labels were always so into fashion and trend…. There is nothing as different as millions of teenagers dressing the same, expressing similar views and listening to the same genre of music. It has become a religious thing almost.
    Then along comes Tunecore – age is no bar to sales, or looks, or dress sense, you stand or fall on the quality of your songs and on your own efforts. Bands and singer songwriters can dare to be truly different. I think that is a HUGE leap forward!

  • http://www.wix.com/gangbangsters/gangbangsters Ryan Wixted

    I think with so much music nowadays, it can be harder to find that gem in a pile of crap. Don’t get me wrong, the fact that pretty much all musicians can get their music out there is a terrific thing that never could have happened if major labels still controlled what people could hear. Although this of course presents a negative in the sense that since anyone can do it, there is an influx of mediocrity all over the internet. But I would rather look through a bunch of crap to find one good artist I’d like any day of the week; rather than have a bunch of know-nothing suits marketing to tell me what I like, and have nothing ever good come out

  • Paul

    I agree with Oliver, with regard to the new breed of independent musicians (and the same is beginning to apply to novels as e-books become popular): “Today, it’s not just about being a musician – it’s also about being a marketer.”
    This is bad from an artistic point of view, because the marketing effort soaks up time and energy.
    I hope that with the emergence of great filtering sites that will probaby become the new labels or publishers, we will see the great stuff rising to the top and becoming known, but bear in mind the colossal numbers involved in the Internet. Bands are already finding it necessary to tour in order to reach the public and make money. Niches are becoming more and more important as all art fields become more crowded. To achieve word recognition demands a Lady GaGa-type approach, where the performance content needs to be good but need not be superlative as long as the stage presentation is spectacular.
    With more availability of excellent work, hopefully quality standards achieved and expected will both rise.
    What I like about the current state of affairs is that as in the sixties, a large number of people are exploring music in a broad way, discovering new artists and rediscovering classics, and creating a lively culture that crosses al kinds of barriers.

  • http://www.anotherfineday.co.uk tom green

    It’s simple economics – a massive oversupply of often mediocre music is devaluing the ‘product’, especially as that product is freely available on torrent sites everywhere.
    It’s a two-edged sword. Yes, it’s easier than ever to make some music and ‘get it out there’ – but getting anyone, anywhere, to pay any attention is getting harder and harder.
    Regardless of the quality, the marketing of music is now more important than ever before – and it’s still the big labels, and the big biz, who can do that far better than any indie, DIY or otherwise.
    The cream doesn’t always rise to the top, just because it’s cream. Well marketed crap will always do better than badly marketed cream- so make sure your marketing is as good as your music – or no-one will find it, and no-one will listen to it.
    … and you sure won’t make any money out of it. That may not be your primary intention, but it helps. Really good music costs time and money to make, and more money to promote. Really big money, to do it properly (£500,000 is the minimum to ‘break’ a band in the UK, properly) Think you can compete against the big boys and girls, with your little indie project with a myspace page and a tunecore account ?
    Think again. Seriously… you can’t. The modern ethos that anyone can do it, on little money, and get ‘famous’ – is another pipe dream. Keep the dayjob !

  • ben

    I’m not sure where the idea your “ears become tainted” is coming from. can anyone state an example? Every time i play a classic song its still classic. the more i play or listen or learn about music it only gets better. As far as the flood of music goes people are the best consumers the world has ever seen. they will consume what ever they can get WHEN they like it. some might not like what the masses call “good music” but that doesn’t change the fact that the control is in the artists hands and the choice is ours.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/charliehammell Charlie Hammell

    This is primarily a music distribution issue. At one time, the means of distribution was mechanical, complex and expensive. Only a few well-funded businesses could do it. Thus, they determined on whom they would risk their considerable capital for the opportunity of a profitable return. Technical innovation and proliferation has changed that model entirely. The means of distribution is now the Internet. The cost has gone from many thousands to near zero. The means is no longer mechanical, it is electronic using consumer grade systems most people own.
    This has completely eliminated the middle man regarding distribution. And music is not the only endeavor affected by this. Most any intellectual property distribution can now occur straight from creator to consumer: journalism, literature, visual art, film, audio broadcast and video broadcast.
    This has *not* eliminated the need for marketing. And the creators, while mostly adept at figuring out how to distribute their creations on the web, may not be so effective at marketing. The proliferation of all intellectual creations, unfiltered, places an even bigger burden on effective marketing. Thus, while the barrier to distribution is now lower, the barrier to reaching your market is just as high, if not higher.
    The business of record marketing has merely shifted from the expensive means of production to the expensive means of marketing. Creative people now have unrestricted direct access to the consumer. But it’s an even playing field. So does every other creative person have unrestricted access to the consumer. Who will really get the consumer’s attention? That’s where the business challenge is, and has always been.

  • Sunn

    Oh yes,I JUST just love it.Got a house of lyric with melodies just waiting to be heard so I thought why not do it yourself?
    So thanks to TuneCore Here I am “(xxx)Who turn the water off” I say let the music flow it’s good for the mind.
    It’s not a competition It’s about choice lets choose,ah there just cannot be enough of music,music please let it flow.
    Thanks TuneCore.

  • http://www.renelabre.com Rene Labre

    You have to first do it because you love it.You can’t forget the original joy of playing in front of three paople and having them enjoy it.Then seek to rehearse,study,perform and develop your skills.Doing the best you can with what you have to work with.And then shine your light out anyway and anywhere you can.If you have a dayjob if you ARE really good your fellow employees will WANT to hear you sing!Fame and fortune?You can’t count on that,it is random chance and is not really even what it seems to be.It carries with it a more massive price tag then you may want to pay.Making a decent living from doing something you love to do-SPOT ON!I wish all of you the best in your endeavors.

  • joezstuff

    The ways that music makers can make music now a days, makes it easy for any one to make music. But some of it is just Beats and rythmn that is on the program it self and shows no talent. as for the real musicians who can play an instrument and sing and write a song with real talent.
    It takes away of where the true audience has gone. from a true beliefe in talent to listening to some garbage with a beat, not take away from their time and talent of putting it together, some of it this awesome. But takes away of a true musician.
    Some of it is stolen from other songs and revamped. So it’s a toss up.’
    If a person likes Jazz for instance, he is intelegent enough to listen ot a real Jazz player. Not someone just banging on a piano.
    Then a real Rock and roller can also produce his talent as well as a great rapper. but then the line is drawn, these people make music with just noise that people don’t understand as talent and they buy it…It’s not right!

  • http://www.dregnocandbenkproductions.com Gregory O Perkins Sr.

    My thoughts on this issue is as follow,
    1. More music means more terrible music
    2. For artists with talent, it gonna make it even harder to be heard by people who can sign a check
    3. It closes the door on artists with music that matter. I know the direction music is taking because that is what I do. I produce R&B, Hip Hop, Pop and Gospel. I am a fairly new independent label and I know that I have 10 artists that come to me. I seldom find 1 artist with talent. I’ve been through 2000 artists and each one think they have what it take or have a hit song. I will find 1 with some talent but the business part of him/her is not there. I may have someone with business about themselves but they have no talent. This is frustrating to me. I do not have a clue what real A&R representatives have to go through. I know now why they only deal with people they know have good ears. This will make it worse for people looking for talent.

  • http://www.cerebellumblues.com Jeff Shattuck

    Interesting discussion.
    For me, though, it’s all very simple: there is more competition today than ever before and this creates challenges for all sides, as artists struggle harder to be heard, record companies struggle to find good stuff and consumers feel the despair of infinity (too much choice leads to paralysis!).
    Further, I don’t think the old days were the glory days. Music was more controlled than it is now. Sure, your choices were simpler but were they really better? I doubt it.
    Jeff (www.cerebellumblues.com)

  • Peter

    Music has degenerated into amature badly recorded garbage. Myspace has made everyone a popstar in their own minds. The quality of music is sinking and small labels are folding as the freetards steal more peoples livelyhoods. The bit that gets me is they call themselves fans but are actually stealing from the people they claim to like,you would have thought they would want to support them,but no they are too selfish and greedy. These are the same people that call record labels greedy.Some singers are giving up and getting other types of jobs as its just not worth bothering with any more. Meanwhile the myspace heroes think they are famous with their crappy amature music. The majors dont invest in new talent cos of the freetards wrecking the system and all we are left with is the Elton Johns of this world or myspace crap. Twits!

  • Ron

    This is America right which means everyone deserves a chance and this gives everyone that chance. What a bunch of whiners! If you can’t make it it’s your own fault!
    Thanks Tunecore!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • http://www.evanpaul.com evan paul

    I really get turned on by originality, but lately, in my opinion as a lot of you have mentioned, it’s hard to find. Too much of nothing means nothing, seems everyone has picked up a midi instrument or already recorded beats and has their music online. I’m looking for true musicians and creators of music that touches a heart and soul, I have found many and all I can say to them is thank you for your talent. It’s a shame more people can’t find you. I have listened to too many nothings before I land on one of those gems. You know who I mean, the serious ones, the ones that have worked the trenches for years and payed their dues over and over again. The ones that create music because they feel it, love it and they were meant to be who they are, not just for pursuit of fame and fortune.

  • J Gray

    I’ve been in the music biz a long time. Been signed to various labels, toured the world etc. From my experience I think Charlie Hammell has hit the nail on the head…..

  • http://profile.typepad.com/6p0134805d2ef9970c Mrfett101

    More music availability means, for me, the McDonald-ization of quality sound and artistic expression.
    What I mean is…
    McDonalds used to be the family restaurant spot in the 80’s. Until it blew up, got popular, and went global. Suddenly chicken McNuggets are available across the street from the Sake Bar and the Big Buddha in Japan. Does that mean the samurai are going to get down and grub on some crappy excuse for fried meat?
    NO!
    The Bushido code. I’m an artist, and I’ve grown immensely over the last ten years of performance. With that, my tastes have changed drastically as I refined my ear and my appreciation for sound. I didn’t get an mp3 online until last october, and the version online is the chicken McNugget version of the actual song that those who know me have heard since its inception four years ago.
    BUT!
    That lone upload through Tunecore proliferated my music, my name, etc etc, to a hell of a lot of people. It got my foot in the door, and that’s all it needed to do.
    Do you think I complained when Xmas itunes sales were at 18 downloads and I realized 95% of people I knew hadn’t bothered to shell out 99 cents for my song? NO! I took my earnings, ate a good damn meal, and kept writing more music. And the whole thing gave me more songwriting material anyways.
    The returns for an individual independent artist are ridiculously good if you have a quality product. And by quality I mean it doesn’t sound like 99.9% of everything else and it doesn’t squeeze itself into one cookie cutter shaped genre that a big label has generated to promote its corporate interests.
    I wouldn’t feel like a genuine artist with integrity if I didn’t have to scrounge for change to get a refill on my slurpee just to get home and have a nice after dinner treat/caffeine rush so I could work for six hours on music, publishing, video, and the like. I couldn’t live with myself, and I’d probably be in a cubicle instead of a silk bathrobe with simpsons pj bottoms on typing this before I fall asleep in my own bed.
    I don’t have much, but what I do have is worth more than having much, because I earned it with my own blood, sweat, tears, lactic acid buildup, and wallet.
    Thank you, and may the fourth be with you…always.

  • http://www.listeningedgerecords.com T. Baron

    Many companies are formed each year and many fail. Being an independent artist is no different. If you have the product the listeners want, the business knowledge to move forward in most cases things will work out. Just like all companies some work out better than others. It’s not an easy line of work to get into and those that have made it work have found the magic formula of supply and demand.

  • http://DavidEllisFilm.com David Ellis

    (Theodore) Sturgeon’s Law: 90% of Science Fiction is crap…90% of everything is crap.

  • http://www.bbsvaluetour.com/The_Artists Live Fandom

    The digital availability of music is watering down the quality?! Then, what’s the excuse for mainstream; Non-singing, can’t clearly speak, emulating hookers, etc that are mainstream topping the charts?! Look, THE GRAND INQUISITOR IS DEAD. It’s just a BS conversation, so the few who control the industry, have the power, OWNERSHIP and crazy money can keep the control. Independent artists making it big and we are not getting 95% from the original hard work — OMG, we can’t have that!
    Now, I’ll admit most of the music is not the greatest, but I continually discover new great music by real creative musicians and vocalists. It’s exciting… :))

  • Maurice

    Good Job on invention, This is my 1st ditrabution home, I seem to venture out far it works for me. I will continue to support tunecore and listen to new artists.

  • http://thepicardybirds.com emelie

    I make music because I love to. I’ve been depressed over the difficulties I face, the years it’s taken to build an audience when others seem to shoot to the top in a day based on people they know and money they have, but then I sucked it up and wrote a song about it. I realized any obstacle can be overcome with creativity… I may not be rich or famous but I’m happy. The internet may be an overwhelmingly large place but there are only so many great songs out there amongst the trashy ones. I’m just trying to make the next one.

  • http://www.themidtownsound.com Deyland

    No matter how we look at it, it’s still all about dollars and cents married to passion and creativity. We should be able to make an honest living pursuing an honest urge (or calling) to create great music; because there are so many people who do not make music but love music and depend on us (or someone) to make it for them. If we didn’t make music for them they would hum, whistle, sing, bang on the desk! Yes, there are many of us, but we are still far outnumbered comparatively. This Tunecore initiative is the best thing that could happen to independent and major artists as well; for this implements an integrity in the business that may have been scarce or lacking previously. And moreover, it allows average-joes, like myself, a doorway into an area that would have otherwise shut me out. So we can never make enough music to quench the world’s thirst for it–and get paid for it.

  • Bob

    “Fame and fortune?You can’t count on that,it is random chance and is not really even what it seems to be.It carries with it a more massive price tag then you may want to pay.”
    THIS IS TRUE
    Could someone tell this to all the wannabe managers who aim for the stars!? I’m so tired of this… I want my band to GROW, but I’m not stupid enough to sacrifice everything for a loto ticket.

  • http://www.myspace.com/vulturesawait Vultures Await

    +
    The worste thing about the current state of music (and Im talking about the quality of it) is not the abundance of music that has flooded the internet but the fact that upcoming talented artists can no longer support themselves on their art alone. Even the hard working relatively unknown new guy on the label used to be able to do nothing but focus on his art. It is now impossible to support yourselves through music unless you either tour 300+ days a year in every bar in the country (and even this is a gamble when clubs pay next to nothing these days because people are home on the internet instead of supporting live music), or are lucky enough to have big label support (this list is dwindling). How are new good talents going to develop when a 40 hour a week day job is mandatory? There are no small label deals anymore, its all DIY. Im trying my best but putting in 9 hours at work and then coming home and doing 10 hours of music is wearing me thin….

  • http://bandpair.com/ Finding New Music

    Interesting blog. It is always good if you can provide additional information regarding it. Thanks a load!