Swimming Upstream

Image by Patricia Anne

Since releasing my first digital album back in 2002, technology has played a crucial role in the distribution of the music I create. At that time, CDs were still the way folks listened to music but sales were definitely well in decline. Napster had scared the crap out of the music industry and was shut down for good. Mp3s were all the rage and there were these things called iPods that were changing the way people consumed their favorite songs and albums.

Thanks to archive.org and Creative Commons, I was able to distribute my music free of charge to my listeners without fear of the music being used for commercial purposes. I’d release a concept album that could be downloaded and enjoyed around the world. At the time, this was a novel idea for an independent artist.

MySpace came along a few years later and allowed a platform for album release announcements and other bits of information that helped in increasing downloads. I would eagerly check the statistics each day and be amazed that people were downloading this music that I had created in my bedroom.

Then along came Facebook which didn’t have quite the music friendly interface, but did eventually lead to more promotional opportunities than I could have ever imaged. Later Bandcamp entered the scene allowing a format that was more user friendly and offering better statistical information.

But a change is underway.

In the last few months, I’ve come to realize a major shift has happened in not only the music landscape, but also the social media landscape. With Facebook’s new algorithms, friends are only able to see things that have a significant number of likes. This has led to a mass exodus away from Facebook. It was time to once again change strategies. I’ve set up accounts on TwitterTumblrPintrest, and Instagram. While it is great to know that everything I post will be seen on these other services, I do miss the interface of Facebook.

There has also been a major shift away from downloads to streaming music. With services like Spotify, no longer is it about downloading an album. To be heard on a streaming service you have to participate in a digital distribution deal which can be costly for artists. But if you aren’t streaming with one of the big players, you’re losing potential listeners. Add to that, artists are seeing their royalties from these providers get smaller and smaller.

On the user side of things, Cloud technologies have moved people away from downloading a bunch of files they would have to keep on their computer. I can see this trend in the recent decline in downloads and uptick in streaming plays of my own music. So the challenge is how to keep listeners engaged with a full album of songs in a streaming hit single-oriented world. Perhaps releasing albums one song at a time is the way to go? Offering something extra special for downloading the album?  Or perhaps it is about a more interactive creation experience?

I’m sure once I find the answer to these questions, it’ll be time to shift gears again. Such is this business of music.

About Monk Turner
"This prolific/eclectic artist/producer uses a spectrum of styles, generating entire concept albums. Turner is both daring and melodically gifted..." -Music Connection Magazine "You've got to love Monk Turner for creativity and witty lyrics. He combines various music genres and creates tracks suited for any type of music listener." -FrostClick Over the past decade, Monk Turner has produced more than 20 concept albums, using a freeform collective of musicians who share his passion for creating unique, genre-defying music. His songs have been featured in movies, television programs and advertisements, and his reach continues to widen. “Seeking” from the 2008 release, Love Story currently has had more than 500,000 plays on the online radio station, Pandora. Music from Emergency Songs was featured in an international video that was created in the aftermath of the 2011 earthquake in Japan. But, his most ambitious project to date has been the production of his 2012 album, Kaleidoscope, where he collaborated with more than 40 national and international artists to create an album of music and poetry based on the concept of color. Turner offers free download capabilities via the unconventional distribution platform offered by Creative Commons licenses so that the public is able to enjoy and share his music.

2 Responses to Swimming Upstream

  1. bohemianopus says:

    Nice article. Crappy art. I’m glad you didn’t credit me for it, I would have been embarrassed. ᐧ

  2. Definitely food for thought. Likely if you’re struggling with it, many others are as well. Necessity is the mother of invention.

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