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Viva La Revolucion

When I think back to important inventions of the past, the printing press stands out to me as revolutionary.  It aided in the Lutheran reformation.  It helped spread propaganda.  It was a game changer.  It’s a no-brainer to realize that our generation’s printing press is social media.

Twitter and Facebook played an invaluable role in this year’s Egyptian uprising.  Egyptian citizens came together and used Twitter and Facebook to quickly organize protests and mobilize on a massive scale.  Eventually, this practice lead President Mubarik to shut down access to social media in his country.  This didn’t stop the determined freedom fighters, however..  Many citizens were still able to get around the government’s roadblocks using proxies or calling people in other countries and having them tweet the phone conversations.

Ten years ago this kind of organization wouldn’t have even been possible.  The protestors would have been beaten and arrested in silence.  The most we would have heard about it is perhaps a blurb from the filtered media.  Social media such as Twitter and Facebook are allowing the voice of the common man to be heard, untouched by the hands of those who wish to control information.

Until recently, I didn’t take Twitter or Facebook very seriously.  I saw Facebook as a good advertising tool and a portal to wasting away the ever decreasing minutes of our lives.  Admittedly, I never really got Twitter.  Thanks to recent world events, I can now see the benefit of both social media sites.  There is a great deal of unfiltered, first-hand information.  That being said, 98%* of the tweets are total rubbish.

I have to wonder what the future will hold.  Will the fascist oppressors of the world unite against unfiltered, social media?  If the world doesn’t suffer a complete collapse due to rampant class warfare we might be headed into an era of unparalleled transparency.  I would personally like to see social media marketed in this new, helpful way.  Maybe instead of appealing to the teenage girl sharing her mood every 5 minutes, Twitter and Facebook could mature into respected information outlets.

* Figure is not real, I completely made it up.

And We Have a Pulse.

There has been a lot of buzz going around about the “dying” music industry.  In fact, the industry is doing much better than is commonly believed.  More people are interacting with music than any time in history.  We are seeing a record high in music purchases, and it is now easier for an artist to make money off of their music.  This is a little backward from the traditional model of record companies making money off of an artists work.  The music industry is not dying, it is undergoing quite a metamorphosis.

I hear that the music industry is dying on a weekly business.  I Usually just smile and change the subject.  The industry as it has been known for the past 60 years may be changing, but music sales are at an all-time high.  From 2006-2009 music sales have grown from 1 billion to 1.5 billion per year.  This figure doesn’t even include revenues from subscription services such as Spotify or Rhapsody!  Much of this success can be attributed to digital distribution.

Apple’s iTunes has reported a record $1.4 billion in sales for the most recent quarter in 2011. That is a 27% increase in just the last year.  Increasing accessibility of digital media devices are giving consumers more ways to get their music.  Music consumers can purchase tracks for their iPods and other mp3 players directly from iTunes.  For those audiophiles and collectors who would never dream of digitally purchasing an album, there is the convenience of Amazon.com, where physical copies of music may be purchased.

Technology seems to be quite a boon to the music industry.  This is not good news for everyone though.  Traditionally, the record labels have been the ones to really cash in on music sales.  Unless an artist was particularly versed in entertainment law, they could be taken advantage of.  The labels offered contracts that seemed like a good deal to the artist at the time.  The heyday for this business model  has passed.  Music is cheaper than it’s ever been.  No one needs to buy a full album to get the two or three songs that they really want.  Artists can now distribute their music online and completely cut out the middle man.  20 years ago, musicians needed a record label to cover costs for recording, promotion, and distribution.  Thanks to modern technology the artists can record complete records at home on a budget,  cut out the label completely, and put more money directly into his or her pockets.

The music industry is not dead!  It is becoming something wonderful for the independent artist.  There has never been a better time nor opportunity to be an independent artist.  Digital sales are booming, potential exposure through the internet is virtually limitless.  I for one am thrilled to see the artists who drive this industry making money over the business types who controlled it for so long.

I have been lucky to have grown up around technology.  I like to think of myself as a little ahead of the curve when it comes to using advances in technology in my life.

I am a musician, I’ve been writing and recording my own songs for nearly 13 years.  In that time period much has changed. I started out with a guitar, a $20 microphone, and a 4-track tape machine.  Unless I had friends over to my house, recording was largely a solo venture in my early years.

Today, with the high speeds of the internet, Digital Audio Workstations, and Youtube of all things, music writing doesn’t have to be so solitary.  Now sure, I’ve also played in bands for the past 12 years, but there are times when not everyone can make it to a session.  Technology again comes to the rescue.

Online musical collaboration has grown exponentially in recent years.  I could have an idea, lay down the guitar track, and then send it off to any point on the globe to be added to.  Entire songs can be started and completed by total strangers.  This online collaboration is also helpful in a band environment.  If for some reason I can’t make it to a recording session, I can simply lay down my parts in the comfort of my own home, and then send them to the rest of the band to be added to the project.  It really can be done completely without leaving home.

An interesting article highlighting many uses of online collaboration may be found at http://blog.sherweb.com/internet-music-collaboration/

Technology hasn’t only helped with musical collaboration, but really in many facets of the music experience.  10 years ago, if one wished to learn guitar, piano, or any other instrument, they would need to pay a teacher.  I have been personally playing guitar for 19 years.  I took lessons for many of my early years.  My parents spent thousands of dollars on my musical education.  Technology can save that money, which can be used to buy nicer gear, or nicer technology.  Anything that I could want to know about playing an instrument can be found online.  I find it very handy to google a certain variation of a diminished 7th chord, or watch a video showing exactly how to play a song.  The negative impact is that there are now fewer demands for private music instructors.  When I was younger I had considered giving guitar lessons as a job while I went to college.  Thanks to technology, the demand is just too small.  I guess I could always try to sell instructional videos or give e-lessons as demonstrated here: http://www.musicedmagic.com/computers/ejamming-and-online-music-instruction.html

Welcome to my blog

Welcome to my blog. My name is Dustin Cox. I am a Senior Telecommunications major at Ball State University. I would like to own my own audio production house one day. I will be following some leaders in the music industry and blogging about the state of the recording industry.

I will be following:

Derek Sivers,

Founder and former President of CD Baby

Ian Rogers,

CEO of Topspin Media

Dave Kusek,

Vice President at Berklee College of Music

Gerd Leonhard,

Speaker, Advisor and Co-Author of “The Future of Music”