Graduation Year

Spring 2013

Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Intercollegiate Media Studies

Reader 1

Alexandra Juhasz

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© 2013 Bryan E. Reinke

Abstract

In my paper I explored the success of independent artists on the Internet over the past three to five years while also examining the diminishing need for major record labels with regards to an independent artists success. I chose to examine this trend primarily because we are seeing the success of many artists to varying degrees who use the Internet to promote their music on a scale we’ve never seen before. Because of this, the entire structure of the music industry is beginning to change drastically and people have greatly begun to rethink the way we discover and enjoy music as well as the types of music we like. I wanted to explore the ways in which independent artists are achieving their success, the degree to which this success has been achieved, and why they have chosen to remain independent from major record labels.

I began by researching independent artists before the Internet became a marketplace for music and how the Internet has changed the music industry to this day with regards to album sales. I then researched different platforms that have recently emerged on the Internet and how they are allowing artists to market themselves in effective ways and at little to no cost to the artist. I also examined the equipment required to make music in the digital age and how it has become cheaper and more accessible to obtain. Finally I examined specific independent artists who have emerged over the past few years on scales larger than many artists signed by major labels and why they have chosen to remain independent.

From the research I did on the rise of independent music, I learned that most of these artists are doing something unique or different from artists signed to major labels. I also found that the message behind their music was sometimes contradictory to what has been accepted in mainstream media in the past. They have remained independent because they do not want to lose creative control of their music while also cutting out the middle man, or record labels, so they may keep a majority of their own profits. Through the artists that were researched, it can be seen that a major label budget or marketing scheme is far from necessary in the age of the Internet and can actually hinder the careers of certain artists. This is important because as major record labels continue to become less important, the structure of the music industry and its economy are changing in a way that is the opposite of what it once was. Music is now beginning to be empowered by the artists and fans rather than by major label corporations.

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