Why The Web Won’t Replace Physical Connectivity

image from davidchaitt.files.wordpress.com In the second part of my interview segment with David Chaitt, author of SoundCtrl and host of the video blog Backyard Brunch Sessions, we get into the more interesting concepts. Lately, I've started to wonder if hyperlocal activism curves music piracy, how fans related to the delocalization of culture, and if the social ecology of music culture can be rebuild online.

Chaitt takes up the challenge of adding insight into such concepts and even though I do disagree with him in some parts, he has provided food for thought well worth sharing with the Hypebot readers. All music communities are different.

Are local activism and blogging methods to curve music piracy?

David: I can’t speak for everyone, but in Brooklyn and Phillly (where I’m originally from), the local communities care less about piracy and in fact encourage it.

The average local musician has a side job and doesn’t really entirely rely on music to support themselves (for the time being). Free is a great way to get your music in other people’s hands and allow them to amplify your reach even more through WOM.

Local activism allows a community of likeminded musicians to share and grow together. If there were a time when the record labels were to disintegrate completely, the local communities would be king.

Has music culture grown delocalized and disconnected for some?

David: Delocalized in the geographic sense yes, but not at all disconnected. For the purposes of this question, I define local as pertaining to communities, which can also denote the online realm. More and more, local can be redefined as a Facebook group or chat room and less about the people who live in your apartment building. After all, with the invention of telephones and Internet, we have been more connected to people of our choice rather than being restricted to geographic proximity.

That is the case with music as well because I am not limited to just the music of my city. I can see the bands my friend in Denver likes on Facebook, or what bands my friend in San Francisco mentions on Twitter, or the bands that my friend in Chicago includes in his monthly mixes he sends through email. We are more connected than ever, which is a blessing and a curse. Blessing because we can share, but curse because everyone is sharing and it’s hard to get people’s attention, which is why I said “grow together” was so important.

Will the dismantled social ecology of music culture be rebuilt online?

David: Short answer — I don’t think it was even dismantled in the first place.

Online will never totally replace physical connectivity. The general concept for what the social ecology of music is will never change. However, the venue for discovery and conversation will. Person X will likely hear of Band Y through at least one of these four ways: blog, radio, concert/festival, word of mouth. Person X says nothing or amplifies their opinion on Band Y in one or two ways: tells their friends and/or write about it to their followers. This relationship can be solely offline, solely online, or a combination of the two. For me, it’s a combination. The digital music landscape has yet to replicate the power of seeing a band for the first time live and then telling your friends about it, so until then the online realm will never truly reinvent or rebuild the historical social ecology of music.

Does our music consumption system accurately reflect fan behavior?

David: I don’t know the stats nor do I know if they exist, but society on whole is consuming more music than ever, which has positive and negative ramifications. More accessibility to music means more consumption, more distractions, and less loyalty. For the casual music fan, they’ll listen to the radio or read one or two blogs to find new music , maybe buy the single on iTunes, or see them live, and then move on to the next band. For the audiophile like myself, we consume more music than their wallets can afford; however, we may buy the vinyl, the t-shirt, or the concert ticket. And where we lack in monetary assistance, we make up in share-ability (I know it’s not a word). 

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  1. I feel compelled to point out that it’s not “piracy” if the musicians are encouraging it, are in fact giving away their music for free. That is surely one wonderful option available here in the 21st century, and a great way for a musician who is not aiming to support him/herself via the music to get the word out.
    Piracy means file-sharing against the will of the artist (and/or label) and can be defended only by those who don’t believe they have any obligation to support creative output. That’s a whole separate discussion (obviously) but I really think it’s important to use language carefully here, as the situation is still very much in flux. Chaitt probably didn’t mean any harm at all but I don’t think it’s helpful to musicians to allow the word “piracy” to slide into meaning “sharing.”

  2. yes you are correct. what i want artists to understand is that once music or any content for that matter is online, it’s no longer completely there’s, which is why a lot of local and underground musicians “share” their music for free.

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