My colleague mentioned recently that his flatmates were part of a band, so I decided to check their music out online. Clean Bandit have a rather unusual theme of mixing electronic music with classical music, and the band members are all Cambridge graduates. Read this interview with them for more. I quite like them.
I was at a gig that was part of HMV’s Next Big Thing series last week, where a whole host of bands make themselves seen and heard more than they would otherwise. They move on to playing at festivals, with most of them having a record label behind them by this stage. Clean Bandit apparently don’t have a label yet, which is also why, according to my colleague, they aren’t allowed to play any gigs live yet.
For publishers and authors, the web has made serious inroads into making them more accessible to the public – look at Amanda Hocking, or Seth Godin’s Domino Project. But it’s not just publishers, even comedians are turning to the web – as a new revenue stream as much as for a new audience – and they’re winning: case in point, Louis CK. Now, music is certainly different from comedy in some aspects: it has a much longer tail for one, but in others, like playing for the most part to a specific kind of audience, it isn’t.
Record labels tend to control what bands do, but as with publishers being the intermediary between the author and the public, I think it’s high time musicians started cutting out the middleman as well. Peter Gabriel and Brian Eno backed the Magnificent Union of Digitally Downloading Artists, or MUDDA, for this very reason, back in 2004, but I can’t see where it’s gone since. I was quite interested to note, as I was rummaging around the web for information about MUDDA, that Gabriel’s On Demand Distribution (OD2), which was bought by Nokia in 2006, went bust in 2009.
Does this merely mean that the music moguls are much stronger than musicians? Surely, as we saw with SOPA only recently, not? Or is it just that we haven’t seen enough bands that wants to skip the record labels yet? I know individual musicians like Steve Lawson in the UK are giving the web their all, but perhaps it hasn’t seen its time yet.