I really like this article and Steve Albini’s thoughts. It offers a lot of hope. The only hole I can seem to find is that his statements seem to ignore the fact that in (almost) 2015, modern audiences are still very much swayed by what’s shoved down their throats (via radio, TV, video games, commercials, YouTube advertising, “viral” posts, etc)… in almost the same way it was back in the traditional days.
So, an artist now has the ability to be more empowered and independent than they ever have been in history, but reaching a large audience still isn’t as achievable as it was with a major label/radio/MTV forcing it on people. In my opinion.
No one seems to be pushing the Soundgardens or Tools of the world to reach the average ears anymore, and I’d bet money that many of my friends’ bands would hit huge if mainstream radio or TV just played one of their tracks as often as they played Taylor Swift or Lorde, regardless of what the audience thinks they want to hear. That’s how I came to love Smashing Pumpkins, Tool, or many of the other artists that are on my iPod… because it took a few listens to understand it, and mainstream media made sure that I had ample opportunity to do so.
But listeners also have an easier time ignoring that stuff than they did before. Now you can click your way out of things in the bat of an eyelash, whereas earlier you had to sit through a bunch of stuff you wouldn’t have necessarily listened to… just to hear the one song you were waiting for. That in itself was huge exposure, and today the vast majority artists that hit it big still have that major media firepower behind it.
The internet offers a lot of opportunity (i.e. Albini’s example of a band that had new life breathed into it because of belated online interest), but it still hasn’t replaced the traditional means of getting things heard and known.
Link to interview: