Effects Of The Internet: Cashing In On The Digital Economy

WWelcome to another installment of the Effects Of The Internet series. This is Tom Colohue. By now, we’ve established that the internet is a danger to your average record label, while being a wonderful tool for the little guy desperate for a little promotion. While analogue power is held almost solely by the biggest and the boldest, all digital power rests in the hands of the smallest and the smoothest. However, while your average street musician can upload a few tracks onto MySpace and get a few more people coming down to watch them bang the drum, the bigger guys still have the contacts to fill a venue on that alone.

Photo by: Steve Wampler on Flickr

Thankfully for the more corporate enterprises, though unfortunately for the independent musician, the aforementioned big guys have started to see the benefits that can be reaped using the internet. Public broadcasting is a much wider option on the internet than it is in more conventional methods, such as television and the radio. General view counts will usually be lower on the internet, but only as long as popularity is limited. Once a broadcaster reaches a reliable, wide-reaching audience, the potential for reaching even higher view counts than television. One of the main reasons for this is that your chosen piece of music is constantly available, rather than being singularly broadcast. Much less money can be earned by showing off your music online, but once you reach a certain level of popularity the income begins to fly.

In taking advantage of this, some rather interesting stuff has found it’s way on to the internet. My main example here would be things like ‘Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog’. This is a web broadcast musical, forty-two minutes long and released in installments. Rather than just music, the internet allows the perfect tool for anything that can be created, regardless of budget, cast or preparation. Advertising in these manners is usually done entirely through word of mouth. However, since the company making the video or music file already have a considerable amount of capital behind them, they can put their work out for all sorts of international syndication. While they will undoubtedly spend much more money putting their work onto television, it could easily garner a much reduced reward when it comes to the outcome.

Creating music videos, at a low budget, is an incredibly common thing for any band or musician to indulge in. While some promoters are internet based, and can thus advertise your work all across the internet, but there are still limits to it. On the internet, everybody is on an even playing field. You put your work out there, usually in the same places as most of the more popular content, and hope that it draws attention. From there though, it’s out of your hands. The content can be passed, traded and downloaded, regardless of file size or type. This, though, is where the independent musician has an advantage.

For the independent musician, peer to peer file trading is the absolute best thing for their continuing popularity. If it’s just one or two people pooling together to throw out a track, it’s no big loss to have it traded for free between a few dozen people. For the big company throwing it’s weight around, they’re looking at a gigantic loss between the flight of thousands of free copies.

In a digital economy, big business still loses millions, while the independent musician has nothing but gains.

Tom Colohue is a fiction writer and music instructor from Blackpool, England. Though his main works are in the realms of fantasy, he also writes modern fiction for multiple websites, as well as theoretical and practical music lessons for magazines.

Read also: Effects Of The Internet: Musical Mobility, The Effects Of The Internet: Contract Giveaways, The Effects Of The Internet: “Making It”, The Effects Of The Internet: Music Distribution