Eilly O'Neil asks:
Do you think that this period of artists emerging through youtube or myspace will last? What is it about these sites that is making these artists successful?
Social networking has become a very important tool in the dissemination of contemporary music. There is no doubt that the Internet will continue to provide a valuable service in the exposure of new artists and their music. Only time will tell if any of these artists have enduring qualities. There are millions of videos and promotional pages available on youtube.com and myspace.com. The low threshold to entry provided by digital video and recording software gives anybody with a song in his head a chance to post his music on the Internet. This phenomenon has resulted in the proliferation of very mediocre content. The world wide web is rampant with poorly crafted songs recorded by inexperienced producers who provide boring arrangements and little musical virtuosity. This has created a hay stack of brass needles so vast that it is near impossible to find an artist of quality no matter how hard you search. Among those millions of songwriters, singers, musicians and bands are a certain number of golden needles. However, the truly talented are lost in the shear volume of contenders that is increasing every day. The Internet is the great equalizer. If an artist is genuinely gifted above the norm it is likely that enthusiastic fans will spread the word through peer-to-peer file sharing and instant text messaging. The fan base of any given artist is likely to be expanded and nurtured by the music aficionados in the various social communites. There is always someone who wants to discover the next big thing , and that person is always hunting and usually hears about the good stuff first. They inspire others to follow and have become a vital part of building an act on the Internet. So far, I don't see any "superstars" that were created on the Internet. However, it does seem that before a new act gets much attention from the traditional record business a strong web presence is required. In that sense the Internet is the new A&R mechanism. If you get millions of hits on your web site it is a pretty good indicator that somebody out there is taking you seriously. The potential of this phenomenon is enormous. If everybody with an iPod decided to purchase a download on the same song the profits would be enormous. It hasn't really happened yet, but when it does it will be because an artist emerges with such talent, charisma and sex appeal that the fan base decides to pay rather than steal the music. Most of the contemporary artists are competing in niche musical formats and there is little sign of anybody who might reach an ubiquitous audience. However, history shows that sooner or later every generation puts a hero up the pop charts. It usually happens when there is a doldrums like we are experiencing now and definitely requires a "superstar" talent to break through.