Websites give artists more options to share music

When I think about the general landscape of the underground music industry today, I can’t help but think about how similar it is to the era during which rock and roll first took off.

Back then, if your band had a good song and was noticed by a producer, they could go to the nearest recording studio, record their song and it would be released on the local charts the next day. All things considered, the rise of music sharing sites like bandcamp and soundcloud has given rise to a similar system, where artists can record their own music and put it online for free [or pay] within minutes.

This opens up a huge number of opportunities for struggling artists, as well as artists who are okay with their obscurity but want a way for their audience to have their recorded music. The variety of music offered is pretty noteworthy too. It’s certainly the only place I know of that allows underground artists of so many different genres to converge onto one, nicely laid-out site. It’s like a weird online music festival that never really stops, and that’s good for the industry.

Of course, as with anything on the Internet, this new dynamic can be a double-edged sword. With the huge amount of bands on bandcamp and soundcloud, some artists can get lost in the mix. It’s extremely easy for artists to fade into obscurity simply because no-one ever came across them. There are charts that keep track of the most popular artists on these sites, but it’s simply a mirror of what’s happening on popular charts. Artists that have no means to gain exposure other than simply putting their music up usually end up getting forgotten.

While this is certainly disappointing for these bands, this adds an odd sort of mystique to this new way of distributing music. You can’t deny that getting into a band that few other people know about is a personal thing, and bandcamp has really opened up the floodgates for that type of thing.

Maybe in the future large record labels will completely overtake these sites and create what would essentially be itunes.com, but for now we should enjoy the system that’s in place. For all the unfortunate by-products that exist, bandcamp is still a unique phenomenon in the music world, and helps level the playing field for unknown musicians.