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How the Music Industry Shaped the Social Network Revolution and Visa-versa.

With so many new advances in technology and emerging artists breaking through in 2010 – it’s hard to single-out just a few game-changing stories. But, here at the Design By Theory Blog we like to drop knowledge (Theory) like beats and make connections everywhere we see them. It’s hard to deny that over a decade ago the rise of digital media depleted record company’s profit margins and transformed bottom lines rapidly. However, digital media in 2010 and present day social networks are fueling a changing landscape for the music industry. Media powerhouses are not what they used to be. The power now resides in the hands of artists and their fans, not label executives. Television and radio is down while YouTube and Facebook are rising at record speeds and more music is being consumed than ever before.

Today, it’s quite ironic to see the recording industry utilize and embrace the general technology & platform that made the music industry stakeholders seriously agitated over a decade ago. After all, Napster, Kazaa, and all the other mp3 music download programs that ruined your family’s first computer were all about sharing things with others on a network. Does that ring any bells? Before Facebook, Twitter and even MySpace, social networking existed. I would argue that this was the start of social networking. Self-promoting indie artists and the act of sharing live music recordings shaped the social media revolution and made both what we know them as today. This is our theory and we’re sticking to it.

In the dial-up days there was something called message boards, where fans and listeners could interact and share things with each other via this cyber community. Sounds familiar doesn’t it? Even in 2002 these people were posting pictures, videos and sharing the latest buzz. Wow! This really sounds like something we all do on a daily basis now, doesn’t it? I can recall doing all the same things we do on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube on these message boards a decade ago. Although dial-up modems forced these communities to use something called “B+P” (Blank Disc and Postage) to share live tracks, everything about these networks makes them social.

The rise in popularity for services like Pandora, Slacker Radio or Grooveshark isn’t so ironic. Why someone didn’t think of this earlier is beyond me. The recent app craze is nothing to ignore either. Pandora, just like Napster has made the vast world of good music out there that much smaller. It gives small, under-the-radar bands a chance to get recognized and heard. It makes indie bands not so… indie. We especially enjoy Grooveshark and always have it pumping inspiration into our studio. Yes, we’re in the business of advertising but we like to keep business and pleasure separate. So, thank you Grooveshark for keeping annoying ads away from our music.

When you think “music” or “viral” or “2010″ the first thing that comes to mind is Arcade Fire’s Google Chrome Experiment. If you were online or logged on to a social network at any point over the last several months it was hard to miss. This is proof that marketing has irrevocably changed in the recording industry. Music junkies have had enough of record label marketing and are sick and tired of being told what to buy next. Simply put, they want to make what they listen to and love their own and brand themselves with the latest band they found and that resonates with them and their peers. Social media has forever changed the music industry and now provides any artist with the opportunity to market their music and connect on a personal level with the public. Major labels are getting squeezed out of the equation more and more everyday.

The notion that it’s so easy for anyone to lay down some tracks on their Mac and publish their music for next to nothing from their 1 bedroom apartment now means that the world wide web is filled to the brim with a lot of mediocre music and musicians. Below is a list that sifts through it all. These are the beats we love and listen to at the studio on a daily basis. These bands all push the envelope on marketing their music in this new environment of digital media and amalgamate the dividing lines between genres. Enjoy!
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Arcade FireWe Used to Wait [ The Suburbs ]

Broken Social Scene – World Sick [ Forgiveness Rock Record ]

Bonobo – Terrapin [ Animal Magic ]

Cold War Kids – Hospital Beds [ Robbers & Cowards ]

David Guetta – Memories [ One Love ]

Empire of the Sun – Walking on a Dream [ Walking on a Dream ]

Jónsi – Go Do [ Go ]

LCD Soundsystem – Someone Great [ Sound of Silver ]

MGMT – Kids [ Oracular Spectcular ]

Miike Snow – Animal [ Miike Snow ]

Muse – Uprising [ The Resistance ]

Phoenix – Lisztomania [ Wolfgang Amadeus ]

Ratatat – Loud Pipes [ Classics ]

Sigur Rós – Gobbledigook [ Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust ]

The Temper Trap – Sweet Disposition [ Conditions ]

The Xx – Crystalized [ XX ]