Fangirl Correspondent: Heard Any Good Music Lately?

The online world has heavily impacted the music industry.

Gone are the days of lining up outside your local music store to purchase the latest single from your favourite band (do they even make CD singles any more?), instead you might find yourself sitting in front of a computer screen desperately refreshing a webpage or the iTunes store to get your hands on new material.

Although music fans appear equally as passionate as ever, their transition into the digital age has brought with it a whole other aspect of how they behave as fans of a particular band or artist.

These days, you don’t just have to be satisfied with listening to the music, attending the concert or covering your bedroom walls with pictures of your favourite musicians.

Instead, you might decide to blog about them, devote your life to being noticed by them on Twitter or even delve into some band fanfiction.

I wrote about fandoms a few weeks back, and there are definitely a few differences between fandoms of fictional universes, such as books or films, and actual real life things, such as famous music artists and groups.

The internet has added another dimension to how fans can interact with their idols and favourite musicians (One Direction member Harry Styles has a casual 12 million followers on Twitter), and it has also changed the way in which artists may choose to engage with their fanbase.

Music videos tend to debut more on YouTube than anywhere else (you can also find some golden music videos online from years gone by).

Several bands, including Fall Out Boy (congrats on surviving the hiatus, everyone), chose to stream their new material for free online before it was available for purchase.

Online communication has enabled a greater sense of two-way communication between bands and their fans.

Fans are no longer just people who show up to concerts and wait outside hotels; if a band is their life, they can show that online and interact with people who feel the same way.

The internet has also provided a platform for new and emerging artists to build up their own careers without any need for a record label, while also giving new artists the exposure they need to take that next step to super stardom.

A relatively successful example of someone being ‘discovered’ online is Justin Bieber (WHO HAS THIRTY EIGHT MILLION TWITTER FOLLOWERS. WHAT. HOW. NO.), who went from having videos of him singing cover songs on YouTube to … well … just

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being mega-famous really – selling out arenas, causing girls to pass out, influencing many a Halloween costume with that trademark Bieber fringe, and no doubt earning a whole bunch of money along the way.

Some use Justin Bieber and the rise of the Belieber fan community, teamed with the fact that his music is considered by some to be simply manufactured pop, to reflect on the decline of the music industry – a lot more autotune and a lot less talent, in some cases.

Oh, by the way, happy twentieth anniversary to the Backstreet Boys! They’ve been a boyband longer than I’ve actually been alive.

Bieber is an example of someone who was discovered online and taken under the wing of the record industry marketing machine, however there are plenty of artists out there making their own way.

YouTube vlogger and musician Alex Day took on the challenge of reaching number 1 in the UK Charts on Christmas Day, and spoke about his goals and the process of being an unsigned artist trying to break the charts in his TedX talk.

Do you think the music industry is dying, thanks to the internet? Or do you foresee only bigger and better things for music and the online world?

As always, let me know in the comments!

Also remember to fear the wrath of the Belieber … unless you’re Drake Bell and just want to stir them up anyway.

Kara Gibbons


Catalyst has been the student publication of RMIT University since 1944. We may be older than your parents but we’re still going strong!

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