Artists like Sebastian Bach and Robb Flynn have asked the question, What does a Facebook like mean these days? In the words of Dark Helmet, “Absolutely Nothing”.
Music is a popularity contest. There is no doubt about that, however popularity doesn’t mean Facebook likes. What we do know is that likes are unreliable indicators of a band’s impact. The music business is all about connecting so many different dots to solve the puzzle. This is where we’ve arrived, the data-centric world and these raw statistics leave a lot of artists out. And they don’t like it.
The number one complaint in the music business is that artists can’t make any money. If you want to make money then make music that people want to listen to. Difficult but not impossible.
Revolutions occur in music all the time. Normally those revolutions happened in musical styles. However when it comes to the reporting side of things, well that was all controlled and monopolised by the recording industry.
The Billboard charts reported what was sold and what was played. All the parties involved lied and bribed each other to play certain records or to promote certain albums. This led to an era that if we believed that a song or album was popular we were more likely to buy it. Hell the same parties even controlled MTV.
Now everyone is looking at charts based on what we are listening.
Seen Ratt’s Spotify stats recently. Even though each album from the Eighties moved over a million units, what the fans really wanted was the great songs. And lucky for Ratt, each album had a great or decent song that would be used to market the album.
I want to go back to 1985. Twisted Sister released “Come Out And Play”. The fans of the band purchased it and played it death (maybe except for “Be Cruel To Your School” and “Leader Of The Pack”). However the album was deemed a commercial failure according to the reporting arms of the recording industry.
While the big albums “You Cant Stop Rock N Roll” and “Stay Hungry” are on Spotify, “Come Out And Play” is not available for streaming officially. But that is typical of the industry because Spotify is controlled by corporations and some of those corporations are the record labels. So as is the norm, those record labels think they know best when it comes to music. However on YouTube the whole album is there.
Why is it on YouTube?
Because the fans of the album put the music up. The fans are sharing their love of the album and people are listening to it because while fans have a history of music at their fingertips and can search for any artist they like the biggest playlist on Spotify is “Today’s Top Hits”. On the rock side, there is a rock playlist called “Rock Classics” that has close to 530,000 followers.
So with everything available under the sun, music fans still prefer to listen to what we think everyone else is hearing. Much like how we purchased albums in the Eighties based on what we thought everyone else was buying.