Crowdsourcing: The Modern Approach to Musical Collaborations

The music industry is facing some fascinating changes.  Just within this first full week of October, RCA announced that it is shutting down Arista, Jive and J Records; not to mention that the Supreme Court refused to review the appellate decision in ASCAP v. United States – effectively upholding the New York appellate court’s determination that Internet downloads of musical recordings are not public performances, therefore disallowing artists from collecting a public performance royalty whenever someone downloads their music.

As most of the business folks in the music industry grow more and more concerned about the state of the industry, and weary of future endeavors, artists are continually developing new means of driving down the cost of music production.  With the inter-connectivity of social media, many artists are turning towards the concept of crowdsourcing in order to create music.

Crowdsourcing allows large groups of individuals to inexpensively undertake the tasks that are usually reserved to a small group of specified people.  In the music world, this allows groups of amateur and seasoned musicians to collaborate on a song, without the need of having highly trained musicians, producers, lyricists and composers.

With the abundance of free software, Creative Commons licenses and the copyleft movement, and opensource software – software codes that allow the public to collaborate by changing and improving the codes – musicians are finding it easier and cheaper to seek help from fellow musicians who may have otherwise been unobtainable without the digital connection.

Sites like Indaba Music, the most popular crowdsourcing site for musicians, brings together over 500,000 musicians from over 170 countries, bridging amateur artists with Grammy Award winners.  Through crowdsourcing, artists can upload and download tracks, mix, edit and provide feedback to other users.

Additionally, crowdsourcing provides musicians with access to other resources that are traditionally unavailable without a record deal or adequate financing.  Musicians can seek the help of professionals and novices on everything from marketing, to distribution, to crash courses on surviving in the industry.

As crowdfunding allows musicians the opportunity to fund their projects without relying on advances from record label, crowdsourcing further eliminates the need of record labels and distributors.  With the continued evolution of technology and social media, the traditional concept of the music industry can face serious restructuring in our digital future.

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