Wednesday, October 25, 2006

If You Build It, They Will Come

It's not yet noon here in Texas, and I've already come across several stories of interest to writers--although they might not seem so at first glance.

The Associated Press had an intriguing story yesterday about EMI (a pop recording label) "opening an online portal for aspiring singers and groups
. . . [EMI's] Parlophone label, whose artists include Paul McCartney, Kylie Minogue, Radiohead and Norah Jones, is now accepting music files online, as well as in mailbags."

I keep harping on the fact that the Internet is breaking down once-stringent industry guidelines. This is yet another example. In a world in which any person can record and post a podcast and develop a following, this is a wise move by EMI. They are streamlining their process in a way which will permit them to spot talent early.

Nigel Coxon, head of Parlophone's artist and repertoire team, essentially agreed to this point of view in the AP article: "'One of our top priorities is to keep our talent spotting process as efficient and up to date as possible . . . This new system allows us to do just that, while at the same time helping us stay committed to giving anyone the opportunity to be heard' . . . In the coming months, Parlophone hopes to phase all demo tapes to online submissions."

Publishing agents are also moving in the direction of accepting online queries. While some complain that they "prefer" snail mail queries, the reality is that we are rapidly becoming a digital society. Industries will adapt to the faster, more efficient pace, or they will suffer.

The Internet is democratizing the artistic world in a new Industrial Revolution of sorts.

Centuries ago, writers, sculptors, painters and composers needed patrons to support them in order to provide for their living expenses while they wrote, sculpted, painted or composed. Eventually, the Industrial Revolution occurred. Profits created educational and artistic foundations that provided grants for artists. The printing industry allowed for cheap prints of books, drawings and paintings, which brought art to the masses instead of to only the wealthy elite. New markets meant more sources of revenue.

Today, the Internet is again making it easier for writers and other artists to bring their work directly to the masses. There are not yet filters to weed out the crap or global marketing systems to make it easy for buyers to locate and purchase quality work by newcomers (Yes, I know about eBay and Amazon. The problem is that neither has a mechanism to drive traffic to you. It's still pretty much hit and miss). However, to paraphrase the voice in Field of Dreams, "if you build it, they will come."

Self-publishing and podcasting will continue to push hard on publishing and broadcasting executives, forcing them to speed up their efforts to find the quality artists before the public does.

It's an interesting time to be writing, composing, performing or creating art.

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