This New York Times article by David F. Gallagher, outlines the shift from old media to blogs as a means of generating buzz for a new band. The article went on record as citing Warner as the first major label to ask an MP3 blogs to play its music in the form of downloadable MP3 files on the blog Music For Robots. It also provides a cautionary tale for blogs attempting to expand within the confines of a major label. Warner's attempted to circumvent any bad comments by posting several comments saying how their band, The Secret Machines, was "so cool." When Music For Robots got wind of this they turned apprehensive to future major label involvement, saying that Warner's had turned the blog into something as deplorable as an "AOL chatroom."
This article gives weight to the argument that it would be tough for blogs to retain their independent credibility once they are bedfellows with major labels (conflicts of interest, and downright manipulation by labels could arise). It complicates my argument that a blogs could truly work alongside labels without being crushed by the corporate steamroller. However, it does add weight to my point that MP3 blogs have become legitimized by labels as a viable venture in band promotion. Also , it reaffirms that record labels have now become middle men in the music industry. If new bands appealed directly to blogs, they could avoid the major label, and appeal directly to an audience--thus beginning their careers, like Vampire Weekend
This article is a roundtable orchestrated by The Morning News .Org consisting of several blog editors discussing the ethics and future of blogs. Oliver Wang of Soul Sides Blog and Sean Michaels of the Said the Gramophone get into an argument during the roundtable about the financial responsibility blogs have to the artists whose MP3's they upload. Wang contends that artists,generally, do not make money off of record sales and cites touring as their main means of revenue. Wang decides that the name recognition that MP3 blogs give these artists is more important than a few missing sales. Michaels, howevers, rebuts with the fact that not all artists are able to tour (laptop based acts, tiny indie acts, and even older defunt bands such as the Beatles). Michaels acknowledges that name recognition is a powerful gift but says to think of the fiscal effect of their piracy as "negligible" is a facile argument. Michaels contends that the purpose of his blog is to expose an audience to new music, and for them to purchase the music. Andrew Nosnitsky, of the Cocaine Blunts blog, chimes by saying that his blog deals in the out of print and obscure--so he in no way feels any fiscal responsibility.
This article both helps and complicates my argument that MP3 blogs have transformed the music industry for the better. The idea of using MP3 blogs as used bins/ rental emporiums is an interesting idea. In the utopian view, the audience would take the MP3 for a while, delete the track after a thorough listen, then purchase the track if they liked it. However, this view seems pretty naive and very 'honor-system' based. How can blogs be sure that the illegal MP3 won't just remain on a user's computer. Also it calls into question the idea of 'name-recognition' being the most important thing for a new band.
This rebuttal ironically comes from a music blogger, and complicates my claim that blogs are poised to supersede traditional labels. Dave Allen of Pempelmoose, states that blogs will simply not be the new music labels. He credits this thinking to the crisis-mode state that the entire music industry is in and their hastiness to "grasp at straws." His counterpoints center on a blogs' need to remain independent and his idea that record labels will not discontinue their functions as A&R sources. Allen rebuts by saying that a blog must remain pure. Plainly said, if they are contaminated by the corporate steamroller, blogs will lose the credibility they have garnered throughout the years. Also, if MP3 blogging becomes a careerist endeavor, blogs will be shackled by a conflict of interest (promoting their own bands), betraying the very nature on which MP3 Blogs were founded. Also in regards to A&R, Allen states that the ceiling is caving in on major, not indie labels, who he claims to be thriving and will continue to act as band developers.
Allen is correct that if MP3 blogging became about money and sales, a conflict of interest would ensue. However, there would be other blogs around who would police these postulated 'label-blogs' and poseurs would be quickly flagged and discredited. Allen's second point is also true--major labels are flailing. However that is all the more reason why MP3 blogs could become the new labels. Capitalizing on the lack of trust in major record labels, a new system could develop--a congregation of smaller blogs.
Legal Outlook For Blogs--Revisited
This article was written by Urs Gasser, a research fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law school. In this article, Gasser examines the legal outlook for MP3 blogs and whether or not they are prime for litigation. To determine this, Gasser examines the economic significance detailing blogs' relatively small size, means of musical promotion, their 'niche' clientele, and the short-term availability of the linked files as viable legal defenses for MP3 Bloggers. Gasser also makes a Fair Use argument for both Blog uploaders and downloaders--citing that the non-comercial status of these blogs and their promotional effect don't have a negative impact on said markets. Gasser also acknowledges the role that record labels play in the survival of blogs--by intentionally leaking teasers and unreleased tracks.
This article sets up several premises of my paper. It establishes MP3 blogs as the new gate-keepers of the music industry, citing these blogs as the effective modes of instantaneous promotion. An important point is Gasser's mentioning that the record industry voluntarily leaks tracks to these blogs--snubbing the copyright law they have sued for in the past. This point reaffirms my claim that record-labels themselves have taken part in legitimizing MP3 blogs as a means of new media.
This article by Forutune Magazine senior writer Devin Leonard, features Jon Cohen and Rob Stone, two veteran music marketers who have turned to MP3 web sites to reach their much desired demographic. However, the difference lies in the fact that these two have gotten advertisers (blue chip companies) to sponsor free downloading. They have set up a network of MP3 blogs and have already inked deals with Microsoft and Toyota. The two say that Fortune 500 companies are finally realizing that blogs are where influential tastemakers graze, the same gatekeepers (with a constant audience) they want to advertise their products to. While independent blogs have troubles obtaining profitable ads on their sites (due to the posting of illegal copy-written material), Cohen and Stone have capitalized because their network of blogs (serving only authorized material) has an audience of 240,000 which is more enticing to advertisers.
This article takes the postulated ideas of 'blogs as labels' and puts it into practice. While this isn't exactly a record label, this is blogs acting as the publicity department for major labels, while still maintaining free content. The marriage of blue chip companies with the trendiness of blog culture is what Cohen and Stone are capitalizing on. Both advertisers and labels seem to comply and since their network of blogs appeals to 240.000 daily their audience is certainly substantial. This could be the future role of blogs in the music industry.