Monday, August 25, 2008

Thinking Outside of Pandora's Box

As the discussion about the eminent demise of Pandora and other webcasters continue, there's an underlying assumption that no one's articulating. Everyone seems to assume that the major labels have a lock on the music. And they do -- kind of. The RIAA has prevented podcasters from using major label tracks, and the SoundExchange is charging webcasters outrageous fees because, well, because they can.

Podcasters have already figured out that there are plenty of great artists not associated with major labels -- or any labels at all. Webcasters still haven't gotten the concept yet. And a lot of listeners haven't made the leap yet either.

There's a lot of independent artists making music as good -- if not better -- than anything being put out by the majors.

How much is out there? Here's a small sampling. BBC Radio One recently showcased under-18 bands -- that is, all the musicians were under eighteen years of age. Here's an excerpt of Huw Stephens, host of Radio One's Introducing program giving quick overviews of ten bands being considered for a slot at an Underage Festival.

Excerpt One features excerpts from Off Limits, OCD, Unicorn Kid. Prems, Mandygams, The Zimmermans

Excerpt Two has samples from the Liddy Berlins, Vanilla Kick, Spiked, Monday Street, Tristan and the Troubadors, 10,000 Flushes, The Naturals

You just heard ten great unsigned acts -- acts who are happy to let their music being used online. Now carry this forward for a minute. These are the best underage independent bands in the UK. That's just a small subset of the independent music scene in England. And that's a small part of the European music scene. And there are plenty of equally creative musicians in the Middle East, in Africa, in Asia -- and of course North and South America.

Why are we wringing our hands over the inaccessibility of the Top 40 when there's 40,000 (or perhaps 400,000 or even 4 million) other songs of equal quality readily available?

I don't know either.

- Ralph

Day 72 of the WJMA Web Watch.

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