We went to Best Buy to pick up Portugal. The Man's new album not too long ago.
Well... We tried, because it wasn't there.
We had seen this band perform "So American" on Conan (for free) and then investigated their music on YouTube (also for free) and were now left without a way to actually support them with what little means we could.
So what did we do? There are very few music albums at any big-box anymore. Tower Records is closed. We paid the extra shipping costs to order it online.
See, bands still sell music and people still pay to have it -- there's just more cost, more middle-men, more people to take money from those who don't have much. This hurts bands, too -- as I pointed out in a recent post, clubs are often filled with people who aren't even there to hear them. People don't go hang out in the record store and take a flyer on a cool album cover anymore either (back in the day I bought Blink-182's Dude Ranch about a month before "Dammit" hit the airwaves. Getting to them first was such a fun experience that I'm obviously still talking about it. Anyway..).
Without people getting a taste of their music, what's a band to do?
As per my previous post on "selling out," bands must now cast a wider net and shill their songs to commercials, movies, TV dramadies to get the message out -- you know -- they put their tunes other places people can hear them FOR FREE.
With MTV on a 24-hour Jersey Shore loop and Q101 shut down here in Chicago, there's no other way to hear new rock besides the occasional band at the end of Conan and, yes -- FOR FREE ON THE INTERNET (quite often posted by people not affiliated with the band).
If you shut down music on the internet, you shut down indie rock -- you kill the "word-of-mouth" connection between the people who want to hear it and the bands willing to let their little birds fly -- you stop the Amazon orders and the people who want to go to the show and buy the t-shirt because they can't stop flipping open the laptop to listen to that one song on YouTube.
Not every music pirate is a "thief."
Not every band is Lars from Metallica.
Bands that have "made it" can swear that they don't need the internet, but the rest of us who know that we do. Every single artist trying to sell anything needs an internet street team. We all want to go viral.
The world is on the internet now. Whether you're a musician or a writer, you have to give a little away to get a lot back (especially in an increasingly impossible economy). It even worked for Radiohead, who averaged eight or nine dollars (sorry, I'm without Wikipedia today) per album when they let consumers pay whatever they want.
Somebody is out there finding a solution to the modern music dilemma...
And it's not the politicians.