If everyone at any one time who was doing something musical on the net was gathered together in one geographical location, it would be the biggest, and loudest music festival in history. Next to sex and possibly IT or stockbroking, music would have to be one of the most enormously popular activities on the Internet. The publicity surrounding Napster has made MP3 a household name and boosted the entire MP3 industry to make it THE phenomenon of the early 2000s.
Music and Computers have been close allies for quite some time, but now that musicians and music lovers can hook up through their computers around the world, the global music community has really arrived. What this means to the average muso, whether pro, semi pro, amateur or adoring fan is that the possibilities have just been expanded a billion fold. Collaboration, accessing information, buying and selling equipment, learning songs, being influenced by music you’d otherwise never hear, legal advice, work opportunities, even political aspirations of a musical nature can all be achieved with a bit of patience and a lot of mouse clicking.
It has all happened so quickly, and so organically that no one has really been able to get a handle on just what is out there. Not too long ago, (say 5 years), there were a few big sites like the Ultimate Band List www.ubl.com that gave all bands an audience, a large number of MIDI file archives, a small number of music e-zines, fan sites, newsgroups etc.. but now that networking technology has evolved - thanks to the commercialization of the web - and the average connection speed has increased dramatically - along with the various audio and video formats - the quality, quantity and sheer diversity of musical information is nothing short of mind-numbing.
Somewhere in this melting pot of creativity, business, technology and human involvement each one of us has to try to find what we really need, and where we fit in, otherwise we risk wasting our entire lives away mindlessly surfing from one amazing music portal to another. There is a world of possibility, but only if we stop long enough to grab some of it, and make it our own.
Here is a small sampling of the variety of offerings available. Places where you can begin finding your way to where you really belong in this musical melting pot. To determine the appropriate places to hang out, consider that each site needs to offer either some great ideas, resources and music or a chance to become active and express yourself, or at least network with others, within their virtual space. These days most sites provide many options, so you can definitely have a good time probing around and finding kindred spirits with which to share your own musical world.
There are some great local on-line resources for songwriters and musicians. Local organization, Songsalive! www.songsalive.org has amassed a large collection of links on their site that open up a lot of music industry doors, as well as the organization themselves actively supporting local songwriters with workshos and showcases. Collectives like Clan Analogue www.clananalogue.org realise that there is power in association and create opportunities to nurture talent and promote live performance as well as provide plenty of Internet exposure to the acts that get on board.
songcritique.com is a place where active song-writing members of MP3.com or IUMA.com (both excellent starting points for any musician looking for exposure) can get together, workshop-style, and constructively critique each others work. All genres are allowed. www.lyricist.com is a massive list of extremely helpful links to anything from publishers to musicians unions to law resources and “how to write a hit song” sites. Bookmark this and spend some time following the links – you can only benefit from the experience.
Internet radio is a booming phenomenon, and although many stations might get very few listeners, it is a place to make contact with the various radio broadcasters to maybe air your stuff, listen to music you otherwise would never hear, and tune into the trends, styles and cultures that are rapidly evolving all around us. www.radiospy.com and www.live365.com as well as Nullsoft’s www.shoutcast.com open the streaming floodgates.
E-Zines provide genre-centric zones where adherents to a particular style of music can gather. They often are populated with non-musicians with plenty of opinions, but so longs as everyone is in agreement that we all love Acid Jazz or Hip Hop, the general consensus will be that we’re all kind of happy hanging out together. www.fly.co.uk gets into the dope beats and reviewing the dance music, www.jazzlife.com opens up the world of the Jazz idiom. www.360hiphop.com is a commercial, but involving portal for all the “Yo, whassup bro” phreeqE hip hop grooverZ.
MP3 Download sites not only give you thousands if not hundreds of thousands of new tunes to check out, they usually provide areas for discussion, chat and the creation of your own little section where you can harness the technology they have set up in order to promote your own sonic masterpieces. www.mp3.com allows income earning potential as well as promotional tools, as does www.ampcast.com with countless genres covered. Others, like www.changemusic.com offer discounts and tools to budding artists. Radio Raw - www.digitalone.com.au/raw is recruiting unsigned Aussie acts for Digital Radio stardom.
Technophiles will love the Drum Machine Museum @ www.drummachine.com and the Synth Museum - www.synthmuseum.com delving deep into the inner workings of every piece of cool gear imaginable, as well as providing active communication with fellow aficionados and links to other suitably happening sites.
When it comes to hooking up with others, the power of e-groups, now Yahoo! Groups - groups.yahoo.com is unarguably effective . The Music section contains about 20,000 groups, with the chance for you to set up your own. The tools provided are extremely useful, including full mailing list facilities, data base, file exchange, chat, messaging etc etc.. It has revolutionised the newsgroup concept and brought it up to today’s Web-based interactive standard.
Likewise, the popular little chat client IQC – www.icq.com has enabled the creation of interest groups and people-finding facilities that open up great possibilities of networking with like-minded individuals – or for that matter having huge arguments with opposite-minded people.
www.rocketnetwork.com is a leader in professional on-line recording collaboration, after partnering with many of the major players in the audio software and hardware industry. About 10,000 studios are connected through the amazing facilities provided.
Almost every major artist over the last 40 or fifty years has some kind of web presence. Whether they are building their own sites in their spare time, the record company has thrown something together, or some adoring fan has built a shrine, these sites can often lead you to make personal contact with the artists themselves, or at least getting more of a glimpse into their reality than record covers in days of old would offer. The aforementioned www.ubl.com is the portal through which you can access official and unofficial sites as well as lyrics, guitar tabs etc.. Rubbing shoulders with those you respect and admire in your chosen field has got to be a positive influence.
While we are spending so much time surfing, we must never forget that music has to be played, written, recorded, sung, programmed – and that means getting off the net, plugging in your instruments and getting creative. Bang that drum, strum that guitar, tweak those synth knobs, belt out that vocal – but do it in the full knowledge that when you are done, there are billions of people out there willing to add you to their bookmarks, discussion groups and portable MP3 players.