Over the past few years, the music industry has changed almost beyond recognition thanks almost entirely to the rise of the Internet. You can bemoan this revolution, resent it as much as you want and even blame it for certain things. The demise of the independent record store (see previous blog) is one of the biggest disappointments that I have for example. However, the Internet is here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future anyway. And it is difficult for me to be entirely anti the World Wide Web because if I think about it long enough, there have been plenty of positives that I can identify. This blog is therefore designed to airbrush the negativity for a short time by taking a look at some of my own personal positives that I can attribute to the Internet.
Firstly, and arguably most importantly, the Internet led to my discovery of Evergrey. I’m not saying for one minute that I would not have uncovered this Swedish melodic progressive metal gem eventually, but you never know. However, the fact remains that had I not made a mistake when using the Web, I wouldn’t have had my head turned at that precise moment. Who’s to say what twists and turns my musical journey may have taken if I hadn’t discovered Evergrey then. They were my route into progressive metal at a time when I was exploring more within the power metal sphere. Would I have ever got into prog? Probably, but it’s an unknown that I am fortunate enough not to have to think about.
In a similar vein, the Internet has made it easier for fans to share their thoughts via forums and for writers to offer their reviews to a wider audience. Not all of these forums offer constructive conversation and not all review sites on the ‘Net are well written, objective and accurate. However, it is easier to at least find out about new bands, albums and genres. Hell, I even write for two of these websites, ThisIsNotAScene and Ghost Cult, allowing my turgid waffle to be seen by many more metal fans, if they’re brave (or bored) enough! In fact,(*shameless plug alert*) if you’re feeling bored right now, feel free to pop over to my links page where you can read some of my reviews!
Back on topic, one of the very best forums I have discovered is the Perpetual Motion forum, which is an absolute gold mine if your particular preference is progressive metal. The conversation is constructive, friendly and extremely informative. It is blessedly free from the trolls that generally stalk forums offering their own unique brand of negativity and offensiveness. This forum would not exist if it wasn’t for the Internet and I know that my CD collection would have suffered as a result. The likes of Circus Maximus, Voyager, Fair To Midland and Leprous would arguably not have found their way into my collection had it not been for recommendations on this site. Even more importantly, it was this forum that forced me to check out Haken and then, once I’d fallen in love with the band, allowed me to spread the love to others and even get in contact with the band, leading to an interview for Powerplay Magazine at ProgPower Europe a couple of years ago.
That leads me onto another positive aspect of the Internet – the increased ease with which journalists and fans can communicate directly with bands, whether it is to offer feedback about an album, or something more in-depth. By reading their website and exchanging emails with Michael Håkansson, their then bassist, I was able to obtain a guest pass to an Evergrey gig in Gothenburg for their ‘A Night To Remember’ DVD show.
With the advent of social media, it is even easier to keep up-to-date with your favourite bands and feel like you are more connected with them. To a certain extent, this can be very artificial, but when a genuine friendship develops with someone who, until recently, was just a musical ‘hero’ to you, it would be churlish to hate Facebook or Twitter.
Via the Shadow Gallery website, I was able to negotiate with the artist directly for the sale of the original artwork commissioned for the band’s ‘Room V’ album. It now sits in my den of iniquity, otherwise referred to as the ‘man cave’ looking, let’s face it, rather awesome, as the picture at the top of this blog attests!
As I have already said ad nauseum, I’d much rather go into a record shop and buy a CD. Whatever it is that you’ve bought online, it is never the same waiting for it to pop through your letterbox – that buzz of finding it on the shelf cannot be replicated in my opinion. However, it must be said that the Internet has lowered prices and at the same time, increased the choice and availability for music fans. The likes of E-Bay and Amazon, for example, have not only made it possible to find certain albums that are not readily available in the High Street but offer them at competitive prices. The margins for the artists may not be so good as a result, but at least people are not put off by the idiotic £25 price-tag that I’ve seen in HMV from time to time for a regular CD.
Speaking of E-Bay, it has its problems but without it, I wouldn’t have as many rarities in my collection as I do. Naturally, my bank account and my fiancée are not as enamoured with the site as me, but hey, sometimes you’ve got to splash out – I don’t smoke or take drugs, other than alcohol, so I consider music as my drug.
E-Bay has become more corporate over the years and I use it less as a result. However, when it was much more of an auction site as opposed to a ‘buy it now’ site, I managed to pick up some real beauties, including two copies of the rare hand numbered ‘Saw You Drown’ EP by Katatonia, one as a present for my late brother. Then there are the two copies of Agalloch’s ‘Ashes Against The Grain’ boxset, one with the bones, the other with the ashes and a wooden box edition of Dissection’s ‘The Somberlain’.
Add all these things together and, as you can see, for all its undoubted flaws, the Internet can be a positive thing!