Delve into online avenues and pathways to discover treasure

(February 11, 2011)

Folk music, like many other genres, has an abundance of artists toiling away in their own little corner of the folk world to produce great music. These days it’s common for both well-known and lesser-known exponents of the folk art communicate with their audience through online media.

For well-known artists it’s often just another channel to market, for the lesser-known it can be their only channel – if you discount their immediate friends and fans from the local folk club. The lesser-known put their work out for people to hear and in doing so reach a wider public than a club circuit or regional artist could reasonably expect. The world is literally their potential audience. However, placing your efforts on the web does not necessarily result in wider exposure nor does it guarantee legions of fans beating their way to your door. It needs promotion – and that’s expensive, then again that’s where the social networking site comes into its own.

Word of mouth and cross-communication

Some artists use the electronic ‘word of mouth’ offered by the various social networks to increase their fan base by acquiring ‘friends’, others use them to cross fertilise from personal web sites. There is hardly a web site, artist, label or promoter that doesn’t have little icons inviting you to multiple sites – Face book, MySpace, Twitter – you name it, the chances are you’ll find a link on most sites. This in itself is no bad thing. It offers one more opportunity for artists to spread the word and enable more people to hear their work. And that’s good because there is so much good music in the previously mentioned ‘little corners of the folk world’ that it’s always interesting to search for it and a pleasure to find it. The only downside is the need to keep multiple sites up to date and the weird people that persist in wanting to be friends with you.

Of course the online conduit is not always full of good music – folk or not. There are those that use online, social networking and download routes to inundate an unsuspecting public with musical crap. Fortunately, there are those that produce good work that’s certainly worth a listen and neither should it put people off an online trawl. The ability to cut a CD in one’s bedroom also allows the inept, misguided and downright useless to broadcast their talent or lack thereof. Thankfully, the capability to cut a CD also allows some excellent micro-labels to produce some exciting and interesting short-run albums.

From the iconoclastic to the traditional

Artists that operate online, and those that produce short-run albums, craft their output with as much (if not more) care than the larger labels. Unfortunately, unless they have a conduit to the wider world (wider than their immediate pals) this can be a daunting task for many and often the rewards are few; either review-wise or financially).

So my view is don’t sit back and wait for good music to come to you. Go out and find it. Explore, investigate and search. Take the time to delve into the online avenues and pathways you will discover treasures; just remain prepared to ditch the dross you will inevitably encounter on the way.

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