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Numbers Game

February 21, 2012

Since the first person realized that people would pay for music through to this very instant the music industry and musicians have focused on numbers. Everything from how much they get paid, the number seconds in a song, their fan count, shows played a year etc. In recent times however bands and the industry have become seemingly obsessed with numbers wanting to always improve these things. While numbers can be a positive this obsession has begun to have obviously negative impacts to music as a whole.

The beginning of this obsession likely starts with the dawning of radio and sales charts, though this was only for the biggest of bands. Your average sized band today would not have focused on theses things due to not showing up on them, only megastars and major labels really worried over things. When the numbers craze truly swept through music as a whole was when the internet and social media began to have obvious impacts on music. This includes everything from now dead websites like Napster, Myspace, various torrent sites, review sites and an uncountable number of difficult to label ones.

In the earliest days bands were concerned with how many Myspace plays they had, labels were worried about how many illegal downloads were happening and fans were worried about how many stars an album got in a review. Today the focus has shifted to Facebook likes, youtube views and albums released. The problem with all this is the numbers mean nothing to some people and can be completely irrelevant to all.

Regardless of the number of views, reviews, likes or retweets a band receives this does not change how good their music. More and more often in contradiction to this though bands spend less time focusing on their music and more time making these numbers better. To deny that these things are important would be foolish and ignorant but eventually they mean nothing. For 90% of the bands out there nobody who’s opinion matters still cares about how many Myspace plays a band has, what Pitchfork thought of the album or how badly it gets pirated.

Ten years ago however these were thing people compulsively checked on a regular basis. Numbers can be manipulated, ignored or completely changed through simple means but what should not is the professionalism and quality of work created. Even the form of music we listen to today the MP3 has numbers in it. Accept that these things are important and should be thought of and given time, but do not take them to excess and do your best to grasp their real value.

-Hassan

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Jerk Face permalink
    February 22, 2012 3:47 PM

    Musicians should write music they like, and their goal should be to please themselves (musically) first, this way the music and creativity doesn’t suffer. Plus if you’re doing it for yourself, writing and playing the music that you like, hopefully the numbers (and opinions) won’t matter to you.

    • February 26, 2012 4:10 PM

      heck yes. definately too many bands that just suddenly break up due to “creative differences” because they never took the time to write stuff they were fully impressed with which pushed their boundaries as musicians complimented by what the other members accomplished together as a *band*

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