Social Media Is Enabling A Digital Renaissance

Image Credit:  Neville Longmore Abstract Artist

McDonalds is to food as radio is to music
I abhor essentially all music that is played on broadcast radio.  Yes, musical taste is subjective, but the trite, banal, watered-down music devoid of personality played on radio in America is an insult to anyone with more than a fleeting interest in the form of art.

The problem I have with it goes deeper than formulaic structure and generic, unoriginal content – although you could easily make the case for either of those – but I’d like to also highlight something you may not realize:  most of it is way overproduced.  It isn’t authentic and is lacking a key element that makes music special:  personality.

I prefer music written by one person in their home studio with just a few pieces of gear, music recorded by an amateur band in their garage, music recorded by a live jazz performance for an intimate group – people creating music because they love it without pretense.  It is real, and it’s actually far better than what most big studios put out.

As an aside, I honestly believe the ability to create music, or any form of art, an innate gift to our species.

Make the cheesy special effects stop…
Movies are similar:  look at the new Indiana Jones movie – that was an insult to any fan of the originals.  Overly produced CGI; unreal, trite, exaggerated plotlines; and totally missing the human element ruined what could have been a great follow-up.  Many movies (played in theatres) lately fall into this category.  And they suffer the same fate that “popular” music (music played on the radio) suffers from:  a lack of personality.  Budget matters little here, the new Indiana Jones flick probably had a monolithic budget behind it, but clearly money can’t create great art.

While most people previously didn’t go beyond what was spoon-fed to them through mainstream channels, now it is possible (and has been for quite some time) to enjoy a selection of thoughtful music and movies that actually challenge your intellect thanks to the web.

And, thanks to blogs and social media, great content producers are being connected with audiences thirsty for innovative content in a world saturated by the overproduced.

I have discovered countless amazingly talented musicians who write music that is ridiculously better than anything that comes from any major label.  At least, to me it is ridiculously better.  And, isn’t that the point?  Just because something has gone through boards of editors or “experts” that you do not know personally should mean absolutely nothing to you.  But, with social media a small set of unknown, faceless editors are no longer the content filters.  We are now the content filters, and everyone can subscribe directly and personally to those who have similar tastes.

Now that you have infinite choice, you can find art that doesn’t merely exist in the background of your life; you can discover and connect with artists whose work touches you deeply and has true meaning.

It makes me chuckle when people say “oh they don’t make music like they used to” – people who say that are dead wrong.  Although, if you only listened to radio, you might think they were right.  Same thing with movies if you purely watched what made it to theaters.

Additionally, the MPAA is known for pushing their personal ethics and agendas on what actually makes it into theater, just as the RIAA sues their own customers into oblivion.  It is an unfortunate reality that the gatekeeper organizations are so incredibly narrow minded.

A digital renaissance
Social tools are breaking the mold for discovering content created by people who do so as an act of love.  They are breaking the monopolies of gatekeepers.

Independently produced content is rising to the top quicker than the massive industry players can churn out overproduced versions through their inefficient editorial boards and silos.  Plus the content quality of amateur productions is in many cases better than professionally produced, even if the actual production quality is higher.  Passion and authenticity win every time over expensive equipment.

Art was never meant to be commercialized in the first place, and up until recently in human society it was not so industrialized and homogenized.  New social communications tools are actually bringing us a “digital renaissance” something the major industry players are late to the game to pick up on.

They have attempted to legislate much of the progress we have achieved away, but they cannot put the genie back into the bottle, our culture has finally been set free.  They also fail to see that independents don’t see major players (or even each other) as competition, because they aren’t trying to compete with anyone.  The best artists are merely using their medium of choice as a vehicle self-expression, plain and simple.

Where previously only a select few had access to mass distribution, now everyone has access.  For music, for film (and of course for ideas), social media is a potential great answer for freeing yourself from the overproduced and discovering a world full of imaginative, intellectual, inspirational and real people who aren’t after monetizing you first and thinking of content quality second.

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