Friday, December 18, 2009

Rage against the xfactor

In a couple of days from now we'll find out if Rage Against the Machine's iconic track 'Killing in the Name' is going to be 2009's Xmas number one. Before the internet campaign began, xfactor's domination of the xmas number one spot looked set to continue. Although its close, RATM is the favourite to win.

I paid to download the track and I really hope it does reach number one.

And I think this campaign marks a significant moment in history of the music industry.

Here's why:

1. Its Old Media Vs New Media.
On the one side we have a saturday night light entertainment show, the sales and marketing focus of one of the largest record companies, and the backing of a man named-dropped by the President of the United States of America. On the other, 850 000 people, a facebook page, and a great song.

2. Its Good Music Vs Bad Music.
Some music is a genuine expression and exploration of what it is to be alive. Some music exists only to exploit us for commercial gain.

3. Its Scheduling Vs Sales.
The persausive power of a television institution, the attention of 20 million viewers, the action of millions of phone voters, set aside by the economic power of a just a few hundred thousand individuals focused on acheiving one goal.

....and most important of all.

4. Its a signpost to a new future.

A future where the fusion of money and art nourishes the human spirit as never before.

Getting there might be tricky though. Cynicism and apathy will deplete our energy.

But for a time at least we'll be following in the tracks of the pioneers. Pioneers like Sellaband and SlicethePie who have explored fan funding; like Last.fm and Blip.fm who try to marry music with social network; like 8tracks and Muxtape (RIP) who rely on our love of music to exist; like Napster and Pirate Bay who thought that above all music should be shared freely.

The destination is a place where you and I can listen to whatever music we want, whenever we want. For nothing. Surely, we all want that?

And future stars will flourish and prosper.

Because at the heart of the industry built around recorded music there is a not-so-well-kept secret. Promotion is the key that unlocks financial success. The songs that are the most financially successful have always been those that most people have heard for free, first. Only then do they buy a record, t-shirt, or concert ticket.

For a more detailed picture please take a look at my 'A Brief History of the Pre-Internet Music Business'.

The music industry of the C20th needs have faith in music to make the transformation into a music business fit for the C21st century.

If it doesn't we will kill it. In the name of music.


I salute Jon & Tracy Morter who founded http://bit.ly/inthename

RATM - Killing in the name
Joe McElderry - The Climb
A Rage Against the Machine Christmas
Rage Against The Machine / Zane Lowe vs. Simon Cowell / XFactor

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