Independent Music as an Answer?

You won’t find these artists on MTV. You won’t find them banging away behind the David Letterman Studio. You might not even see them in record stores.

Note: This is an article I wrote that was published elsewhere first. It has been republished here for archival purposes

Where you can see them is on the Internet – many of them giving music away for free. These artists tend to be much more believable when they say, ‘We’re not in it for the money’.

While the RIAA continues its campaign against people who share music online and try and spread messages that say that downloading music is the equivalent of shoplifting, there are artists who actually resort to the internet as a means of showing off their latest tunes. As a bonus, most of them would rather give you a big hug rather then a lawsuit for downloading their music. Though some signed bands wouldn’t mind you giving away their music, record labels tend to make the decision to pass along a cease and desist order without the consent of the artist. In the mean time, if some of these artists hear that you like the music enough to recommend to your friends, they may even be more ecstatic.

Many artists who sign in for big labels such as Virgin or Sony can very easily get ahead of themselves and sign something they didn’t quite read thoroughly. The end result? Going quickly from being on every radio station across the world and back down into bankruptcy, allowing the labels to gobble up all that precious revenue the artist worked hard to making possible in the first place. It’s a possibility that many artists are aiming to avoid all together by “going indie.”

They won’t make as much publicity as top 40 artists, but they may find themselves making more money then the artists on the production of music alone. Word is getting out that there is more to music then simply looking at the charts to determine what is worth listening to.

A common misconception is that there is nothing to listen to outside of the record labels. It is true that it’s a little harder to switch from big names to independent artists as the advertising isn’t always right in front of you every day, but it does help to find a genre and keep digging for the specific music because the harder one looks, the more one realises that there is actually an unimaginable amount of music to go around… free of charge. Sometimes, the individual is encouraged by the artist to re-post the tracks elsewhere for free.

Independent music may be slower to be adopted by digital hungry users then podcasting, vidcasting or simply free shows, but the content is much more available then free internet shows – likely because it’s easier to create then an actual show. Many artists utilize the power of the Creative Commons to distribute their music, but many still keep it under copyright for whatever reason.

Free online legal music may be a gold mine most untouched for the average user, but, bar legislation that could effectively remove this practice for non-big label musicians to distribute online, the gold mine might always be around.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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