Internet Killed the Rock Star

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Where do you find new music nowadays?

Back in my day, there was this place called the Thirsty Whale. A rock bar so iconic that, even though it’s been closed since 1996, there are still websites dedicated to remembering its tobacco-stained brick walls and yellowed stucco ceiling. Hell, the guitar shop that I work at still has two of the bar stools. Not only was the Whale a place for national bands to tear through, but it was also host to all of the up and coming local bands.

 

Since I was only 18 when the place was torn down, I was barely old enough to get a small taste (illegally) of the Whale before it was demolished to make way for a gas station.

Every town had its own Thirsty Whale back in the day. Whether it be The Whiskey on the west coast or CBGB’s on the east, these havens for the soon-to-be greatest bands in the world were where you got the chance to listen to something new. First time I heard Smashing Pumpkins was at the Whale, long before they were getting any radio play. Today, most of these places are gone.

Even though I titled this article “Internet Killed the Rock Star,” that’s not entirely accurate. I’m not hating on the interwebs – Hell, I’m writing on the damn thing as we speak! – But there’s no denying that once music became more accessible digitally, attendance at live shows has been dwindling. Most big name acts cant even fill the venues that they used to be able to. Even big names like Megadeth are stuck touring with other headliners under a festival circuit in order to fill those seats. There are only a select few who are still able to fill enough seats to play stadiums left.

This trend has only been amplified when you look at local artists. I remember shows of shitty local bands that the crowd was so thick that you couldn’t raise your arms. Now, even local heroes can’t pull in more than 150. And, to some, that’s considered a good night.

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If no one is willing to go to a bar to see a band that they know about, how are you going to get them to out to see someone that they’ve never heard of? You can’t!

And, in the vacuum that was left by the demolition brick and stucco, all that  is left is the Internet. And, where do you go to find new bands that you might not hear otherwise. You might get a few choice nuggets on Pandora or Spotify, but most of what you’ll hear on there are signed national acts. That leaves you with sites like Myspace Music, Bandcamp, Soundcloud, or even Youtube to hear stuff that hasn’t already been put through the corporate machine. But even those sites present their own challenges.

Trying to find music on Myspace Music, Bandcamp, etc, is like trying to find a pearl in a barrel of shit. Anyone who can even nominally operate a computer has the ability to load the culmination of their talents for the world to taste. And, anyone who has heard Rebecca Black’s Friday knows that terrible music will get more views and press than great music ever will. Train wrecks are so much more interesting.

For anyone to get any recognition, they have to be really freaking good. I mean, incredible. Guitarist, Andy McKee’s song Drifting is an example of this. Basically, the guy not only had to come up with an amazing song, but he had to do it in a way that made most people question their belief in God.

A student asked me today, “How do you find new music?”

I told him I know how to find new music, I’m just not sure how to find new music that’s any good.

 

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About the Author: Marc published his first novel Becoming in 2010. It’s a kick-ass book with monsters and dreams and stuff, and you should buy it. Since then, he’s written thousands of articles for TheToneKing.com, many of which have been picked up for circulation by manufacturers and other news outlets. His next book, Drugs and Pancakes, should be available early 2014 if his alcoholic editor can find time to work on it in-between destroying his liver and screaming about punctuation. He graduated from Roosevelt University with honors, which means that he’s not as dumb as he looks. He’s been playing guitar for over 25 years, which is almost twice as long as most of his students have been alive.

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