Complementary Media and The Online Music Ghetto

After a few months of heavy online music promotion, web metrics, signing up for this and that, updating blogs, emailing and FTPing and buggering around with seemingly endless reams of PHP, I finally had an opportunity to do some old fashioned music promotion, on a local campus radio station, last weekend. It was fun, with beer and banter, and face-to-face interaction.

There was still a heavy dose of online media connected to this event, however. The radio show was promoted on myspace a couple of days beforehand. Some of the music played on-air was streamed directly off the web. I also used iChat during the show to converse with listeners.

But online media played a supportive role in the whole event. I shouldn’t be surprised by this, I guess, but I’ve had this creeping feeling for some time (and I’ve suggested it in a recent post) that independent music and mainstream music are becoming more unlike all the time, and the ways they use media (and the types of media they use) are highly indicative of this division. Generally speaking, because of the low cost of entry, independent music increasingly finds itself boxed up online, while the costs of mounting a live show or tour become increasingly prohibitive.

Not that independent music isn’t faring well in its new online environs. It is. It’s just becoming digitally ghettoized, while more intensively commoditized musics are being streamed into more monetizable, and less accessible channels (mobile media, conventional touring and retail, and so on).

On the other hand, I see there’s a very lo-fi 90s-style indie/punk festival coming up here in Vancouver in the next couple of months, and it seems to have new blood running the show. It will be held at some of the few boozecans in town that dare host live bands anymore (poor sods, sounds like these pubs are desperate to try anything, given 2010 pressures to upgrade the east side and make it palatable to tourists…a tangent. a related tangent that I’ll get to soon…). This should be a fun event, too.
We’ll just have to wait and see if indie fests like this survive. And what (if any) role online and mobile media can play in enhancing the experience.

I can hear geeks perking up, and musicians groaning at that last sentence.

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