17
Jan
08

Time to PLUG-in

Voting is open for the annual PLUG awards. These awards honor artists in the independent music community, and fans worldwide are eligible to vote. The culminating event is a big show featuring some of the bands in NYC (I’m anxiously awaiting the announcement), and they also do smaller shows across the country. Follow this link to cast your votes! (I particularly appreciate the separate categories of “general” and “obsessive.”)

Relatedly, all of this makes me think of the recent articles from Wired magazine about the music industry. One, written by David Byrne, investigates how the industry is changing with the advancement of the internet and digital technologies. It also looks at the varieties of artist/label contract variations and their limits on creativity — with an important note as to how these limits can be impacted when technology changes. The second article consists of Byrne interviewing Thom Yorke about Radiohead’s legendary (and widely successful?) internet release of their latest album, In Rainbows. Byrne and Yorke discuss the trade-offs of their decision as well as how they were uniquely positioned as a band to make such a drastic move.

Reading these articles, frequenting communities like Hype Machine, listening to KEXP, watching friends’ shows, and obsessing over Pitchfork all has me feeling relatively peachy about the state of independent music. I’ve been mulling over this post for a long time, and trying to figure out exactly what I wanted to say. The bottom line is that I know there are a lot of curmudgeons out there who are lamenting the doom of the music industry and the lackluster performance of some of their favorite artists in 2007. But I think Byrne’s articles, and the quickly growing (and fanatically obsessive) online independent music community is a breath of fresh air. I’ve been exposed to more artists in the past year and a half than ever before, and it has been exhilarating. I occasionally get concerned that I pay too much attention to singles and not enough on the art-form of the album. But one of my (many) new year’s resolutions is to focus more on albums, and I’ve started this year with a little iTunes and emusic shopping (Kate Nash, New Pornographers, Jens Lekman, and St. Vincent — all simply fantastic purchases).

So, thanks, PLUG, and every other online community/website/forum devoted to spreading the gospel that is good independent music. You made me that much more giddy that when unpacking my new stereo I contemplated whether it was even necessary to plug in that FM antenna.

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