“Where the fuck am I gonna go now to sell my records?”
That’s a musing from Kid Rock, as quoted by Carson Daly, after the final episode of TRL. Most people would instantly reply “the internet.” The internet, however, despite being a great tool for music discovery, has been poor, at best, at turning that discovery into actual fans.
The way things are set up now with Facebook and Twitter, very few artists have fans. Artists have plenty of “likes” and “followers,” but they don’t have the artist-fan relationship that’s needed to be as big as the acts of previous generations. Fans buy albums, concert tickets and t-shirts. Fans tell their friends about artists. The person who “liked” a Facebook page, who are they in relation to the artist? Are they really a fan?
The internet has a million ways to communicate, and a million ways to sell things, but it’s failing when it comes to creating fans. The reason for this is that there are very few fan experiences on the internet. There’s no waiting in line at midnight at the record store for the latest release from your favorite artist when you’re downloading it on iTunes. There’s no gathering all your friends up into your car and going to a concert when you’re watching a live stream of the show on YouTube. There’s no anticipating your favorite artist appearing on your favorite music video show when you have access to them 24/7.
These are the fan experiences the internet hasn’t been able to, and probably will never be able to, replicate, and they’re exactly what artists, and labels, need if they’re going to reach their previous heights.
Yes, Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift, Adele and Lady Gaga are selling a lot of records (even if it’s nowhere near the previous generation’s highs), but if you’ll notice, with the exception of Bieber being discovered on YouTube, they just have their collective toe dipped in the internet water, they aren’t considering it the be all and end all of how they create fans, and that’s the key.
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