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How do you discover new music? Discussion and results...
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thedarkproject
Yesterday I asked, "How do you discover new music?" because of some advice I have seen given out to musicians over the last year - advice which is rarely questioned. The advice is basically that the main and first route to growing your band's fan base is just to play more gigs, building up a local fanbase, then broadening out to other cities across the country.

One example is this post on Reddit on "how to help your band grow" where the 2 key points are "Play local gigs, and get more fans." and "Branch out to shows beyond your hometown." Barely anybody there questioned this, and when it was questioned, the original poster said "It's about creating a network of support, and nothing beats the live experience". Is this true? Is the live experience the best way to build that network of support? (Let's ignore how inappropriate it is for many genres of music that don't lend themselves to live gigs, too.)

Another is this video on YouTube which suggests that if a band has $10,000 and wants to spend that on promoting itself, the best approach is to spend it on travel costs so that you can get out on the road, show you're not a local band, and get out in front of new fans and other professionals. At this suggestion my mild scepticism turned to outright disbelief. To my mind, that way will result in you playing gig after gig to empty or near-empty rooms, because who's going to come and see an unknown band from out of town?

More anecdotally, I've often heard it suggested that bands need to be gigging regularly to get anywhere. Some bands play tirelessly up and down the country, seemingly getting nowhere while their fans and advocates lament how odd it is that such a hard-working band is still overlooked by the musical powers that be. But I don't actually think it's surprising.

Basically, I believe that playing lots of small gigs has little to no bearing on whether you make and keep new fans, in 2013. In past decades, local gigs might have been the main way fans got into new music, once you filter out pop bands appearing on TV and radio, and already-established acts appearing in specialist press. Smaller acts played the pub and club circuit hoping to catch the eye of the right person and get signed, which would give them access to bigger tours, magazine coverage, etc. But I don't think that is how it works any more. I don't get the impression that label A&R men are still prowling tiny gigs looking for a gem in the rough, and I certainly don't think that as many people go to underground gigs as was the case in the past, because they have a more compelling alternative in the form of The Internet™. Sites like Last.fm, YouTube, and Spotify let people discover new bands based on their existing taste, at zero monetary cost and in very little time, without needing to leave their own home or put up with substandard gig sound in the local dive bar, drinking semi-poisonous draught beer to try and make the evening more palatable. And based on my own experiences as an occasional live performer, I don't think most live gigs translate into a significant number of new fans at all.

In short, my hypothesis was that today, most people do not discover the music they listen to through live performances; they are most likely to discover it via internet-based promotion of some sort.

So, I did a small informal experiment, and asked my Facebook and Livejournal friends to pick 5 artists at random and tell me how they discovered that artist. The mechanism of selection was supposed to be a media player of some sort, to remove human bias from the selection and to weight the results towards the music people are actually listening to.

I got about 20 responses, although not all did the whole 5 bands, and some provided more than 5 bands - in the latter cases, I'll choose the group of 5 which most strongly contradicts my hypothesis to minimise my own bias here.

In total I got 86 results, and here's where we (claim to have) discovered these bands:

  • Recommendations from a friend: 27

  • Last.fm: 10

  • Seen on TV or in a film: 6

  • By association with another band that is already known and liked (eg. shared members, side-project): 5

  • Magazine review or article: 4

  • Heard on radio: 4

  • Heard at a club night: 3

  • Seen at a festival: 3

  • On a label or magazine compilation CD: 2

  • Based on packaging or artwork seen in shop: 2

  • Web forum: 2

  • Heard on podcast: 2

  • Seen at a gig (presumably not a festival, but not specified): 1

  • Rateyourmusic.com: 2

  • eBay 'similar items' list: 1

  • Based on photo seen online: 1

  • Assigned to review for print media: 1

  • Review (no explanation of where): 1

  • Newspaper review or article: 1

  • Checked out due to name similarity to other band: 1

  • Part of (presumably unauthorised) download of several items: 1

  • Same label as another band already known and liked: 1

  • Appearing at a future festival I will attend: 1

  • "Internet" (no explanation of where): 1

  • Looked up "after internet-stalking someone I rather fancied at the time": 1

  • Bought due to cool name: 1

  • Worked with band as a sound engineer/producer: 1

So, out of 86 bands, 27 of them (31.3%) came to us via recommendations from friends. 21 of them (24.4%) came via various internet sites or through methods that require the internet. Only 5 of them, a mere 5.8% of the total, made their way onto our playlists directly as a result of us seeing the band live, or expecting to see the band live.

In my opinion, this result is strong enough to refute the suggestion that live gigs are the primary way to get new fans. It seems clear that, as I suspected, people are getting into new music via other means. However, I don't think the evidence is clear that the internet plays as large a part in this as I had expected. If we take out friend recommendations and leave only the independent discoveries, 35.6% of the bands we discover come from internet-based promotion and exposure, but almost twice that figure come from a variety of other sources. But then a lot of the friend recommendations might only be happening due to the ease of sharing YouTube videos and Spotify playlists on Facebook, Twitter, Last.fm, etc. It would be interesting to dig into that further.

I was surprised at how overwhelming the value of recommendations by friends was. Our group of acquaintances are either sharing a lot of music, or know our tastes extremely well, or both. It would seem that bands need to make it easy for their fans to share their music and convert new fans as a result.

I was also surprised to see so few people citing podcasts (2) or internet radio (0) as sources of new music - although this tallies with my gut feeling that there aren't many listeners to these shows. Is this an attention span issue, where people would rather check out individual songs via YouTube than listen to a show that may go on for several hours?

I was not surprised to see that magazine cover cds didn't make much of an impression. My band was on such a cd, and we didn't notice any increase in listening habits, purchases, downloads, or Facebook fan count. It's common for magazines to charge aspiring bands for the privilege of being featured on these cds, and given the data here, I'm even more inclined than before to declare it a bit of a scam, exploiting bands who feel they should be investing in their act but who don't realise how little effect this particular route will have.

Although I think this is quite negative regarding the value of gigs as promotion, there are obviously second-order effects to consider. How many of the recommendations came from friends who had seen the band live, for example? And perhaps playing live significantly increases a band's chances of getting onto TV, or into a magazine, or to be played at a club night. These are possibilities - but I think that if live bands were making much of an impression on our friends, we'd have seen a higher showing of them making an impression on us directly. I think it's also significant that more people got into bands through seeing them at festivals than at individual gigs. This supports my hunch that simply playing small gigs across the country is not much use - ideally you play at festivals where you get in front of more people. But obviously this is easier said than done.

Final notes on demographics etc: obviously my friends skew towards being fairly technical, and more so since I asked people via internet sites, so there is likely to be an overrepresentation of internet use here. But I think I also have a larger proportion of gig-going friends than the average person, so either the chances of getting discovered via a gig are even worse than these very pessimistic results suggest, or I have friends who are suckers for punishment and attend awful gigs. I suspect a little of both.

Comments welcomed.

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So I'm the only person who reported discovering a band by seeing them live at a non-festival gig? I find that surprising.

I wonder if there is a flaw in your survey: how would "Band X was opening for Band Y so I checked them out on last.fm/youtube/facebook/spotify" be scored?

I often don't really form a firm opinion on a band until I've seen them live. Unless they're exceptional, I'll probably skip over a band I'll never see live in favour of one I will. I see the live performance as the "true" version of a band, and a recording as a snapshot.

I think this is a fairly unusual attitude in the UK, but perhaps commoner in other countries. It certainly was common amongst my friends when I lived in the US, but that might be in part because I meet all my friends at gigs. In any case, if I haven't seen you live, I'm unlikely to buy your stuff.

I find the idea of playing gigs as promotion, rather than playing gigs being a raison d'être somewhat hard to wrap my mind around to be frank. What would be the point of a band that didn't play? It's possible that I'm just old.

I'm not surprised about the podcast thing, by the way. They're a terrible way to discover new music, in general. They're usually 2–4 hours long, with songs played in blocks of usually 3 songs at a time, and an announcement of what the songs are at the end of the block. I don't have the laser focus (or a 4 hour gap in my schedule when I don't have to think about anything else) to concentrate on the whole thing, and I often find that I like a song, but my attention has wandered by the time the presenter has said what it is. And scrubbing back a minute or two when the progress bar covers 4 hours is annoying. A very few podcasters have the courtesy to put in chapter markers and titles so you can glance at the screen while the song you like is playing, but most don't bother. If you're sat at your computer listening, there's a chance of finding a track listing on a website somewhere, but not always a good one.

Internet radio ought to be better though: that shows you what you're listening to.

Nobody else reported discovering a band at a non-festival gig in their 5 bands picked at random. I don't know how unusual that is compared to most music fans. Looking at my collection, I can see 10 bands in there that I first encountered at a non-festival show and then chose to buy or download their music - but that is compared with having about 550 separate artists in the list and having gone to hundreds of gigs. The success rate of finding new bands at gigs is very low for me.

In fact if I look at my top 20 listened-to bands on Last.fm, I've only seen 12 of them live, despite an obviously strong desire to go out of my way to see those artists. I suspect that metal fans without the advantage of going to every single Bloodstock and the occasional Wacken might score an even lower proportion if they had the same online exposure to music that I did.

I would have scored "Band X was opening for Band Y so I checked them out on last.fm/youtube/facebook/spotify" as a band discovered via a gig. But of the 86 reports, only 1 looked like this, where someone said "one was playing at a festival I was going to". I did word it as "how you first discovered" the band, rather than where you first listened to them, which would hopefully minimise people reporting the site they streamed or downloaded a track from instead of the gig they would be attending, but who knows.

"What would be the point of a band that didn't play?" - well, I think lots of musicians write music because they enjoy the act of creation and having people hear it - playing it live may just be a bonus. Many one-man black metal bands will never be able to play live but they still have a decent following, considering. And obviously several genres of music don't lend themselves to live performance anyway, or make it less practical. From a personal point of view I don't have a strong opinion on it - I enjoy playing good gigs, and I don't enjoy playing bad ones. I think there are few musicians who enjoy paying to spend 4 hours travelling, 3 hours waiting around and moving gear, and 30 minutes playing to 5 people plus the other bands - but that's the reality for most small metal bands I know of. I get the impression a lot of bands do this because they feel like they have to, because that's how you get to eventually play the good gigs - but I don't believe that plugging away like this is actually the best route.

I seem to have danced around my actual point without making it, which was that I think your survey fails to account for the relative impact of different ways of experiencing music. There are a large number of bands I've heard on youtube or podcasts or wherever who I have a half-formed opinion on, but I tend to only really form a concrete opinion when I see the band live. Your survey is about initial point of contact, rather than what pushes you over the tipping point to actually buy something.

But I'm talking as someone who chose to go to university in London because of the gigs; who spent his Oxford and Cambridge years mostly on the midnight bus back from London, and then moved to New York and quickly gained a reputation as "that English guy who goes to every single show". I might have to accept that I'm an outlier. Two gigs a week has been the norm for much of my life, and quite often I've never heard the bands before. Times are harder now, but of the two gigs this month, all seven bands are ones I'd probably never have known if not for them playing, and the score is two T-shirts and multiple bandcamp downloads.

Certainly there might be occasions when someone hears a band's recording and it only really clicks for them live. But that is only useful to bands if they are able to get the recording in front of you first, and there's no way they can get to gig in front of as many people as they can get the recording to. Just in terms of scale, there would need to be a massive number of people like you, who need to be at a gig to be 'converted', relative to the number of people who don't often need that - and I suspect the latter are far more prevalent, extrapolating from the data here and looking at my own experiences, where I've not even seen 40% of my favourite bands.

(Also, it's the other way around for me - I see bands live and am often unimpressed, but when I hear the recording I enjoy it more. I'm not sure I've ever known a band that I didn't like on record but who changed my mind live. But that is always going to be biased by the fact that if I know I don't like a band, I don't tend to go to watch them.)

We seem to have fundamentally opposite approaches: you go to see a band live if you've already discovered and like their recorded work; I might check out a band's recorded stuff if they're playing near me in the near future, or if I've seen them play and enjoyed them.

As an example: there were a bunch of bands playing at a pizza place in Liverpool the other week; I decided to go, so I checked out the bands on their bandcamps etc. Atragon struck me immediately as excellent, and I posted on Livejournal about them and bought their shit (and wore their T-shirt around the hot night spots in Southport the following weekend). Wizard's Beard and Tree of Sores didn't really appeal to me, but they were good in a live setting and I'll go see them next time they're in town. That's three bands I may never have heard if they didn't come to Liverpool. The "getting the recording in front of you first" happens by being on the bill in the first place. The winning me over part comes from getting me in a conducive environment where I may well have emptied my hip flask before I even started on the Wobbly Bob, and I have to listen to the whole set rather than thinking "they sound a bit like Electric Wizard, I think I'll listen to Electric Wizard instead". I'm more likely to appreciate a band's nuances and individuality if they monopolise my attention for a whole set, rather than just having one song come on in my earbuds while I'm looking at filth on the Internet at home.

In addition, in the future, when there are dozens of largely interchangeable sludge/doom bands jostling for my attention, the "oh, I've seen those guys live" factor will win them recognition and favouritism.

This might all be an age thing; as your random play survey revealed, I have a lot of stuff from the 60s, 70s and 80s on my computer and I don't listen to very much new stuff at home. On the other hand, checking out some new bands and having a few bevvies is what I like to do on a night out.

I think the different ways that people connect with music is fascinating. Obviously there's no one-size-fits-all approach to getting known by new fans. But what led me to do this survey is that my own experience of smaller gigs, as a musician and an attendee, was at odds with the advice being given to bands. If everybody was like you, then smaller gigs would be awesome and there would be no doubt that the best way to build up your band would be to play lots of local gigs, work up to regional and national level, etc. But what I see as a punter is that there just aren't enough people going to the gigs for that to be the case, and what I see as a musician is that lots of people are listening to us, and many also buying the music, despite never seeing us.

The 4 gigs we played recently - Nottingham (hometown gig), Birmingham, Sheffield, and Stoke - brought in maybe a total of 10 'speculative' attendees, once you subtract the other bands, their entourages, people we nagged into coming along, and people we already knew were fans. Even assuming some sort of exponential growth, that rate isn't going to get you anywhere. If nobody is going to the gigs in the first place, then you're not winning people over and the next time isn't likely to be much better.

So I think that a band needs to view these smaller gigs as a rite of passage and to play them for the fun of playing and to hone their craft. But when it comes to trying to grow the fan-base, they need to be more selective about their gigs (eg. try to support larger bands or play festivals) and probably invest time (and money) in the other ways of reaching people.

I think part of the difference between your experience and what others are saying might be geographical. Is the stuff you're talking about coming from Americans? My feeling is they're more open to going out to check out unknown bands than Brits are, but of course I mostly meet people who go to a lot of gigs. I also think that's a poor showing from the cities you toured and I remember my shock on moving from London to Cambridge at how hard it was to motivate people to go to gigs, compared to my London friends. Maybe step 1 is to relocate to somewhere that actually has a live music scene.

Yep, most of the disagreements I have are with Americans. I think they are not only far more likely to go to see local gigs, but I gather that they tend to have more bands at the gigs anyway, and the environment is more friendly to musicians - venues apparently usually pay the bands, and petrol is about 1/3rd of the price.

With our gigs, I was just glad we were able to get some of our friends to come out in Birmingham - that, plus our usual large hometown crowd, meant we didn't lose money in the end. But Stoke was completely dead (ie. nobody came for the bands, at all, although some people were already in the bar) and Sheffield was nearly dead despite us supporting a local act. None of this surprised me though - I see similar turnouts all the time for other bands that come to Nottingham.

London might well be different. We'd play there if we could - but promoters aren't listening. That's another aspect of why it's so frustrating to hear people say, "just get on the road and play", because if you don't have a promoter that wants to put you on, it's not going to happen. It's not that we don't know any promoters - it's that they're not interested. We can get played on TotalRock radio by a DJ who writes for Metal Hammer, and we got to play at Bloodstock without entering any Battle of the Bands nonsense, but we can't get a single promoter to even reply to our requests for a show in London.

Gas is cheaper, but distances are greater so that bit might even out. Bands expect ther gas money to be covered, even when they're getting nothing else. Six or eight band bills are not uncommon (often two or three touring bands plus a few locals who may have paid to play in towns with a shitty scene). Drinks are cheaper. They don't, in general, have metal discotheques: if you want a night out with metal, then it's a live band or a bar with a good jukebox. People dancing to metal played by a DJ is alien to them. I wonder to what extent metal clubs have damaged the live music scene in the UK?

London *is* different, probably because of people like me who make a conscious choice to move to places like that. I will say that of the London people I've met at gigs since my return from the States, not many were born in this country. My old mates from the 90s now hang out with a lot of people from all over Europe and South America.

I have complained about Liverpool in the past, but the scene is quite vibrant now, with one or two gigs a week (it was once a month a couple of years ago), and while I can't estimate attendances after the fact and 4-band bills get the room off to a good start, I'd say never fewer than 20–30 paying customers and more likely around 80 or so.

I suppose that's how it works in this country: London plus one or two other places are worth playing in, and those one or two places change. Bradford, Sheffield and Nottingham have had their turns in the past. Liverpool's now having perhaps its first ever spell of being a good place for metal, and things seem to happen in Leeds, Manchester and Bristol.

Coincidentally, Dom Lawson wrote a bit about the struggle for smaller gigging bands and the London-centric nature of the business just today: http://getyourrockout.co.uk/wp/about/getyourrockout-blog/dom-lawson/

Your point about the club nights is an interesting one - when faced with 5 bands of unknown quality selected by a local promoter each playing 10 songs, versus 50 assorted songs from different bands, I think a lot of people prefer the latter. Attempts to mix the two often seem to draw complaints that people are there for the DJ's music, not the bands, which says a lot.

Wow, Dom Lawson really needs an editor, and I could only skim that, but I think I agree with his general point.

One thing to note is that, in big cities like London and New York, there are parallel scenes: even in the big city, a lot of bands are unfashionable and ignored by record label reps and their journalist cronies just as much as the ones playing the toilet circuit in the provinces. Being in London is necessary, but not sufficient, to get attention from the movers and shakers.

You'd think that situation would have been improved by the Internet and whatnot, but I don't think it's any better than 20 years ago.

I don't think clubs and live bands mix well, for reasons that are too obvious to go into. Having the bands finish by 11 and the club night only start after they're done is sensible, but starting a club night at 11:30 works better in some cities than others.

I'm sorry I missed the chance to join your survey. It sounds fun! I like your analysis :)

Just because I want to join in, here are my recent "discoveries":

Angel Witch - saw at festival. Entertained by 1 song, probably won't buy their CD...
Phildel - facebook-liked by respected friend and music industry person. liked on facebook, bought the CD.
Kyla La Grange - heard the name before, made an effort to watch when at a festival. Bought the CD
Grimes - facebook link to youtube by habitual music reviewer friend. Went berzerk for a couple of tracks, bought the CD.
Zola Jesus - saw name on club promo CD, didn't listen to said promo CD, took a punt in Fopp and bought album on strength of a discount.

I'm interested that your focus is on exposure but I note from my recent discoveries that I have a habit of buying a CD and then finding that I only really get excited about 2 or 3 out of perhaps 10 or 11. In addition to exposure, the actual consistency and quality of the music needs to be very high on the list of priorities if you ask me, to make sure people who do get exposure actually stick with it. I'm not sure how you measure something so subjective, or indeed how that can be applied in terms of creating music. I think Last.FM stats could be a useful tool to analyse relative popularity of tracks on an album, within said album, for existing material.

I my experience, i've found myself more attached to an artist where I fall in love with the whole album, compared to artists for whom I only focus on a few tracks. I expect this could be attributed to my generation and the prevailence of tapes in my more formative years, compared to the modern ability to skip tracks and moreover the ability to easily make playlists with MP3s (or similar).

Good luck with your ongoing research!

I've just read your original post and I see that I skipped the bit about using a music player shuffle feature. What I did was give you the last 5.

Do you have any concerns that shuffle might turn up lots of artists discovered before the internet was a source of information for people? Surely this is going to skew the figures a lot. I'd love to see people's ages plotted against calendar years, a line drawing across the chart showing where certain sources became available or discontinued, and then percentages of source type noted.

I reckon that for a 35 year old who has been listening to music since the mid 80s, with gig attendance starting in 93, festival attendance starting in 95, the internet becoming a source of info in about 96/7, but with "web2.0" not really kicking in until about 2007, that the ratio of "recommended by a friend / borrowed a copy" Vs "found on the internet" Vs "heard at a gig" Vs "heard at a festival" is about 4:10:1:5

In short: I still think the internet is the key. The issue is, how do you mark yourself out from everyone else?

Maybe picking bands via shuffle would understate the value of the internet, due to older fans having hundreds of ripped cds on there. But then other people have suggested that this method overstates the value of the internet because lots of smaller bands they see live may not have records out. So... who knows! As you say, it would be good to break it apart by listener age.

It might even be interesting to do it by the age of the actual band - if newer bands were relying on the internet rather than gigs to promote themselves (which I don't think is the case, however) then my hypothesis would be mistaking cause and effect, the change being due to band behaviour rather than listener behaviour.

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Yeah, the weighting is going to be skewed towards older and more established bands. But to some degree it also takes into account that people buy more music from the bands that they like more. A more random sample of bands in each person's collection would be a good idea but I don't know how I could perform that via an survey like this.

Last.fm certainly is 'internet radio', when I think about it. Thinking about it, I guess the distinction I wanted to make was "human-curated playlists" vs. "machine-curated playlists". And despite the high ranking of recommendations from friends, music selected by machine seems to be a close second. I think this is partly because the machine is doing a better job of interpreting your own tastes than any individual friend (or DJ) could do, working in isolation. It definitely gives me some food for thought as a musician, especially given that it's hard to get onto the relevant playlists when your band is still too small to have formed many correlations on these services like Last.fm.

The distro newsletter aspect is an interesting one. I occasionally buy cds based on their description when they come through on the eBay "also from your favourite sellers" list, which is a similar thing in a way. The sideways associations are interesting, where one band gains fans by being on the same label or sold by the same stores as another. There's possibly something to be said here for the continued relevance of labels despite the doommongering, but then I don't know how many people do actually discover bands these ways. The data I have so far isn't too encouraging.

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Thanks for the offer of helping with promo! We're in a transitional period at the moment, with a new singer freshly installed, a guitarist leaving this week, and an album being recorded, so neither our current pictures or existing recordings are a good representation of the band as it currently stands, which hinders promotion somewhat! But I'll try and mention it on here once we've got everything together. We're definitely aiming at the European market because there's not much interest in the UK for melodic mid-paced metal, whereas Benelux and the Germans seem to lap it up.

I used to buy a lot of stuff from Supernal, and more recently I've been buying from Lethal Conflict, but due to a lack of funds I've not been looking much at buying new cds, instead sticking to picking up new releases from bands I already like. But the distro aspect is a very interesting one for bands because you get to catch people's attention when they're already thinking of buying new music, which is arguably more use than just getting their attention on Facebook or whatever. So I'll be giving this more thought in the future.

You already know my views on this ;) I will say that back in the day, i.e. the mid 90s-early 2000s, I found a lot more of my music via the free cds on magazines. My experience is that the quality of music on there has diminished hugely, but that might just as easily be a case of my tastes outgrowing those of the supposed taste-makers.

I don't know your views all that well! Feel free to elaborate, for the record.

If I look back at magazine cds from the 90s, eg. the 2 Metal Hammer cds and a Kerrang cd I have to hand, it shows that of the 44 tracks featured, only about 5 were not signed to at least medium-sized labels. Most likely the magazine distributions were much higher, they charged more for bands to get onto the cd, and only labels could afford that price and justify paying it. The result was probably a higher quality threshold in order to get onto a cd.

I don't think it would be fair to compare them to Zero Tolerance or Terrorizer magazine now though, a band can get to be the last track on a 15-track cd for a fairly low price. So the quality there is surely lower. But the style of music on the Kerrang cds of today is likely to not be your cup of tea.

So... I think it's a bit of column A, a bit of column B. The magazines that feature your tastes have a lower quality bar on the cover CDs than the magazines that featured your tastes 10 years ago.

I was going to chip in something similar as in_dissonance. Back in the 90's, you did get a lot of good new bands from cover cds. But I'd agree with what you're saying about times and tastes changing, and that the bands in the 90's usually did have at least a medium label behind them and to filter the quality, like Roadrunner or Earache or somesuch.

No real comment here, other than that I find your research damned interesting, and I'm sorry I wasn't around to contribute to the original survey (although I listen to most things on the hated Spotify, which I don't think has a shuffle function). I don't know if it's of interest to you, but it is to me, so here are my five most listened to bands this year (from last.fm)

1. Donots - An internet find, I was browsing Frank Turner videos on Youtube, came across a song he did with them, then tapped them into Spotify and listened to the albums.
2. The Bronx - Recommendation from Amy, though I'd seen them in the past, I'd never really paid attention until she posted and reposted their videos. Again, Spotify.
3. Pure Love - Bring The Noise Media posted the 'Beach Of Diamonds' video at the tail end of last year, I watched, listened, found another video on Youtube.
4. Craig Finn - singer from the Hold Steady, so I follow what he does anyway. I got into the Hold Steady because they're ex-Lifter Puller, got into Lifter Puller because they're the subject of a song by Atmosphere, got into Atmosphere because they also have a song called 'Suicidegirls', which was mentioned ages ago on the SG website. So it goes back to the internet.
5. The Story So Far - Requested several times at Assault.

Thinking about it, I try to listen to whatever my friends post up on Facebook (or wherever). From there I bung the artist into Spotify and listen until I'm hooked or get bored. I know your issues with Spotify as a service, but it's unparalleled for me as a way of discovering new stuff.

There's certainly some sort of distinction between how bands raise awareness and how bands increase sales, and as with any form of advertising, the two are separate but related. Lots of adverts will make a brand look attractive but won't necessarily tell you how or where to buy it. I expect it's the same with music - there are certain ways in which you might get your name out as a potentially interesting band, and there are ways that a potentially interested listener could decide whether they really like you or not, and the two are not necessarily the same thing. I suspect that friend recommendations feature high on my list because they're a vague category that includes both, whereas users of Last.fm, Spotify, and YouTube may make a distinction between bands they initially discovered for the first time on that service, and bands they explicitly checked out via that service.

I think services like Spotify are the future of how people will listen to music. It makes much more sense to have recorded music stored digitally, and access across devices and on the move makes sense. Most people rip the CD once and then pack it away, so it makes sense to do away with that step. It's just a big problem at the moment with the royalty rate for streaming being so low as to be virtually zero.

There's also a dilemma with digital generally for smaller bands like mine who need revenue. People usually expect to get something in return for their money, and selling digital downloads doesn't give casual fans significantly more than they'd get from a torrent or similar, so there's not a great market for that. If you're not offering added value, you can't expect much revenue.

At the other end of the spectrum, the dedicated fans who care about music and about bands are the ones who like to have a collection of physical artefacts, the CDs, the vinyl, the t-shirts. These are also often people who worry about the digital rights management that means listeners only 'rent' their music, and run the risk losing it all if a service gets turned off. So if you want to actually make any money (not even profit, just money) then you're stuck with physical media anyway.

There's a new-ish service whose name escapes me which allows free listening to everything in its catalogue, and you can pay to have the music added to your collection and displayed. The idea being that people want to be seen to be associated with music, the digital equivalent of having stacks of CDs on display, or rooms full of vinyl.

I think most people (certainly most people in our respective social circles) are somewhere in the middle of your spectrum. We'll buy stuff if we love it, otherwise we're content with the renting option. Spotify for me is a godsend, as it makes it easy to give a proper listen to a lot of bands I need to listen to for DJing.

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