February 26, 2006

MP3 Blogs: The Hipster's American Idol

Arctic Monkeys The upswing of mp3/music blogs can be paralled, or more succinctly, has paralled the major success of that oh-so-evil television production, American Idol. That crass, annoying, and now-so-powerful-it's-scary program has become the greatest springboard to a platinum selling debut album the music industry has ever seen. Back in the eighties and nineties (hell, likely all the way back to Bing Crosby) major labels would spend ungodly amounts of money trying to get their budding stars all the attention possible, now they let the public's appetite for reality tv, bad music, and over singing, do all the work in their own living rooms, bedrooms, and dens. And the suits at the major labels were watching along thinking, 'Good God, tens of millions of people watch these singers. They root for them. They love them. These people have millions of fans even before they've recorded an album!'. KA-CHING! Wouldn't you like to release the debut album of someone who's already a media star? Who has been featured in national magazines? Who is talked about on morning television and radio programs across North America? Yeah... I can hear the KA-CHING! too.

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah Now this massive springboard (imagine a springboard something like Cape Canaveral) is being mirrored on a much smaller scale by: the public, the internet, independent record labels, and the promotion firms they hire. That's right... MP3 blogs are the hipster's American Idol... Brooklyn band Clap Your Hands Say Yeah [pictured left] is Kelly Clarkson and Sheffield, England's Arctic Monkeys [pictured above] are Carrie Underwood (sorry, guys). Clap Your Hands rode very positive music blog buzz and a determined DIY attitude to the top of the indie charts, as well as becoming a top selling act at the internet's premiere site for buying indie music, insound.com. And the Arctic Monkeys, they made available some very sharp and catchy demo mp3s and, as most young bands do, handed CDs out at shows. After letting the mp3s sit for months, until the buzz became nearly unbearable on mp3 blogs, they finally came offline, but by then it was very likely most bloggers had all, or some, of them. Now the band have used this internet springboard to vault onto the roster of über-hip Brit indie label Domino (alongside über-hip artists, Franz Ferdinand, Stephen Malkmus, and Jim O'Rourke) and onto the top ranks of British charts with the fastest selling debut in UK history. Is this all massive hype? Have we the public, via the internet, learned how to hype bands to ourselves? Is that what the internet is? The most effective and viral form of 'word of mouth' the planet has yet known? I don't know. We'll all have to wait and see if this (the Arctic Monkeys) is just the biggest freaking hot air balloon to get off the ground and Richard Branson is at the wheel, or if this is the real thing.

But, more importantly, when a band that started to buzz with MP3s online is now responsible for the fastest selling debut in UK chart history with 360,000 units in it's first week... that kind of puts a boot up the ass of those who say filesharing and free mp3s are killing the music industry. Doesn't it?


+ Details of the War
+ Is This Home On Ice
+ Upon This Tidal Wave of Blood
+ Over and Over Again (Lost and Found)
Here are some CYHSY lyrics.

+ Fake Tales Of San Francisco
+ From The Ritz To The Rubble
+ I Bet You Look Good On The Dance Floor
+ Mardy Bum
+ Scummy
+ Dancing Shoes
Here are some Arctic Monkeys lyrics.


  1. Anonymous4:17:00 PM

    i think that's a stretch.

    music blogs don't make bands, they spread their buzz. american idol doesn't spread buzz, it creates celebrities. both are a form of promotion, but music blogs are an extension of college radio stations and "zines" while american idol is more closely related to hollywood karaoke bars where those desperate to get discovered hope to catch the eye of major label music producers.

  2. music blogs, as a group, do make bands more popular. they have, and will continue to do so as more and more indie labels and PR firms contact bloggers in hopes of getting their artists publicized. I continue to be contacted by labels and even PR firms I've never heard of. As for music blogs being an extension of college radio, that is only true in that they both tend to focus on indie music. Music blogs are much more specialized in the genres they choose to cover, much more so than college radio. Music blogs are much closer to radio shows on FM in the seventies in that they would play pretty much whatever the hell they wanted. In fact music blogs are closer in spirit to pirate radio stations. American Idol and music blogs are, or were not meant to be forms of promotion, but have become so as the artists featured gain more popularity and with it the evil dollar.

  3. i think the blogging commuity helps ALOT. i dont think CYHSY would have sold nearly as much as they did without the blogs, but I dont know how much they helped the Arctic Monkey's sales in the uk, those sales are just insane. basically, i feel that the arctic monkeys are able to do well without the hype of the blogs, while CYHSA are not, it totally depends on the band

  4. Long live music blogs!

  5. Anonymous2:08:00 PM

    I think blogs only help to spread the word of pitchfork. It all seems to come from there.. Pitchfork or NME.

  6. You're talking to the wrong guy here, about pitchfork i mean. I never read pitchfork, well, only in the sense of gathering info for a post... i will google something and find myself on the site, but i rarely read their reviews. NME i read once a couple of years ago. i am not here to spread the word of the 'fork or NME.

  7. Don't worry, anonymous is probably just some troll who doesn't even read your great interviews or other posts. Ignore him!!