Internet a Blessing & Curse to Young Musicians - New York News

Internet a Blessing & Curse to Young Musicians

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Jennifer Hall is chasing her dream while rehearsing with her band late at night in a Chicago recording studio and sitting on the couch in her high-rise apartment.

"I fall asleep to my computer, I wake up to it -- posting shows, creating events, messaging people," Hall said.

It's all about social media now. Hall is online promoting her music six-to eight hours a day. It paid off with a packed house for her recent show at Subterranean, a Milwaukee Avenue music club.

The new music business is nothing like the old music business. Sean Mulroney, now co-owner of the popular Wicker Park music club Double Door, was once an aspiring musician himself.

"To promote bands, we would get in a van and drive around the city late at night and glue our posters on every light pole we could without getting caught," Mulroney said. "We literally hand-wrote labels on you know 2,000 postcards and put stamps on em, sent em out for every show. With the social media that's available, none of those things happen anymore.

The Double Door is a legendary launching pad for Chicago bands -- most famously Smashing Pumpkins. But the club has changed with the times too.

"We do is we coordinate our own Facebook and our own Twitter accounts to promote our nights and our bands as well, so we are, in essence, a promoter of our room but we expect the bands we book to promote themselves as well," Mulroney said.

And it's not just the promotion of music, but its production and distribution that's undergone a digital revolution. It used to cost thousands and thousands of dollars to make a record, now anybody can buy a nice piece of software, plug it into a home computer, get a nice microphone and make records in the bedroom.

Record producer and engineer Jay O'Rourke says the internet makes it easier to spread your music around the world, but harder to get paid for it.

"The internet is a blessing and a curse for the music business," O'Rourke said. "It's really been bad for established artists, their back catalogs are worth nothing pretty much anymore because of piracy."

In order for young artists to make money in the music business, it's more important than ever to understand not just the music, but the business: publishing, licensing and sponsorships.

"Those are the main income streams now, since recorded music really isn't selling," Strand said.

Recording may have become easier, but getting a hit record is as hard as ever. The formula for success used to be: make a record, get it played on the radio, then cash in by going on a concert tour. Now with radio no longer being an outlet to sell new music, the idea is to grow a fan base online so you can make money playing live -- and then sell your records and other merchandise.

That's what Hall is trying to do.

"So far, my bills are not covered yet," she said. "I'm feeling like maybe that'll change. I hope. I'm hopeful."

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