Home The Internet is The New Seattle

The Internet is The New Seattle

It’s fascinating to track the changing dynamics of how artistic content is delivered and promoted on the Web. Last week we looked at how the band Arcade Fire released its latest album ‘The Suburbs’ via the Web, using social media like Facebook and YouTube. Today we check out how a web site in the backwaters of Illinois is making a name for itself as a live recording studio. Daytrotter records indie bands and releases those recordings on its web site for free, accompanied by unique cartoon imagery. Daytrotter is also currently working on a movie.

“The Internet is the new Seattle,” was the rather hyperbolic claim made by a musician in a Daytrotter promo video (see below). Does this mean that musicians should wear their pajamas on stage now, instead of flannel? Let’s find out.

Daytrotter records indie musicians in a live and low-fi manner and then distributes the recordings free on the Web. It’s a wonderful resource for music fans, but also gives bands an opportunity to get their music out to a passionate online music community. In the 1990’s bands flocked to Seattle, donned flannel shirts, grew their hair long like Matt Dillon in the 90’s movie Singles, and waited for the money to roll right in.

Nowadays, indie musicians may well be better off trying their luck with Daytrotter, NPR’s All Songs Considered, and other online sites devoted to showcasing new music.

This isn’t a new paradigm. Daytrotter’s Wikipedia entry rightly notes that England’s John Peel pioneered live and loose recordings of bands back in the 60’s. Peel recorded musicians for BBC Radio 1, from 1967 until his death in 2004. Some of them became albums that were released by record companies.

The difference between The Peel Sessions and Daytrotter’s live sessions is purely in the distribution. Daytrotter puts these recordings out on the Web, freely available for download. They’re there for people – like me – to go in and download at their leisure, no matter where they live.

I’m not ready to proclaim that the Internet is the new Seattle, but the Web is certainly putting a lot of power and leverage back into the hands of musicians – and fans. It’s not just routing around record labels either. Sometimes even the all-powerful Apple iTunes!

Arcade Fire released its new album ‘The Suburbs’ on its web site, in high quality digital formats, at a slightly lower price than Apple’s iTunes. In addition, the band included an interesting add-on called “synchronised artwork” that was only available in the download from its web site. This feature allows listeners to simultaneously view images, lyrics and videos on their iPod or iPhone (this author, at least, could not get it working in his iPad).

It may seem like a small bonus feature, but to reiterate that this was not available on the iTunes download. Perhaps a sign of things to come.

Oh and as a music fan, Daytrotter I thank you for the awesome live recordings of Local Natives, My Brightest Diamond, and Band of Skulls that I downloaded for free tonight. Viva la Web!

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