Sunday, 2 October 2011

Article for (friend of CloudToy)

SoundCloud logo
The world is in the midst of a revolution. No, we’re not talking about the Arab spring. Fans of music are celebrating the removal of their very own tyrannical dictator. The evil despot in this story can be seen as the record companies. And its liberator? The internet – armed with it’s finest and most effective foot soldier; SoundCloud.
In an almost unimaginable time before the internet, music fans were confined to the record shops and the radio in order to source new music. Although there was and still is, a vast selection made available to the consumer, we must understand that these releases are carefully controlled; we have a choice but only within the parameters set by the record companies.
Although it is sales, which ultimately defines success and popularity, a record can only sell if it’s made available for sale. It is the record companies that decide who gets record deals, so they are therefore intrinsic and necessary in denoting what becomes popular and what doesn’t.
Although popularity is also quantified from radio airplay, this too is restricted to the releases made available to the stations and as a result we have seen them begin to play to the record companies agendas.
With the horrible feature that is the playlist, radio stations provide the record companies with a constant daylong advert for their most profitable signings. It has now reached a point where new releases from certain labels seem to get position on the playlist with seemingly no vetting what so ever.
Please don’t get me wrong, I am a huge fan of radio and I love the experience of trawling through record shops looking for deserving releases. However this is all done with the uneasy feeling of having accepted the influence of a necessary evil.
I do herald it as a great shame that in recent years there has been a huge demise in record shop culture but I see this as an obligatory sacrifice required in order to secure our musical freedom.
We have in so many ways been liberated by the internet and this is no more true than with music. With sites such as SoundCloud we are able to circumvent the influence of the record companies, gaining access to never before audible demos and an almost endless supply of new music.
For those not familiar with SoundCloud, it serves as an audio platform on which users can upload sounds for free (or a very modest fee, depending on data requirements) to be listened to by anyone who wishes. The sound is displayed in a neat or ‘pretty’ waveform on which the site has functionality to leave comments at appropriate sections along its length.
What we have now is an intuitive and easy to use platform that provides artists with an inexpensive medium on which to gain global, 24hr exposure. The interactive social media aspect of the site, provides those artists with immediate feedback, directly from the fans and it is this feedback that fuels that movement of power from the man, to the people.
Although we are still reliant upon the record companies for physical releases, the process of release selection has begun to be pried from their hands. Getting hits and listens on SoundCloud, which now boats over 7 million ‘creators’, is by and far the best way of gauging an artist’s possible success. This constitutes a shift in influence, from the dictatorial opinion’s of a handful of men to a democracy of millions.
Music fans are seizing control over the whole record process, by popularizing and appreciating independent artists online, they directly influence the record deals themselves. If the record companies fail to register the mood and opinion of the online masses, then they could well loose a potentially lucrative signing to another label, or the evermore popular, independent digital release.
As music fans we have never been freer. I urge you not to waste this freedom but to exercise you diplomatic right, whist harnessing the fantastic resource that is SoundCloud to expand your music library.
To get you started I have posted some of my best finds on SoundCloud so far. If you’d like to discover more, please visit the Cloud Toy Blog, ( which will be updated regularly with fresh and exciting new tracks.
Happy hunting and viva la revolution!

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