The Internet and the Rise of Audience-Driven Music Distribution


In 1993, Steve Albini, a veteran of the 80s indie music scene and recording engineer on classic albums like Nirvana's In Utero, wrote a piece called "The Problem With Music." In it, he laid out why he thought the music industry of the time was so broken. With costs for touring and recording taken out of the royalties and advances given to artists, more money was going to middlemen at the labels than to the bands themselves. Artists were often barely able to break even, trapped in an album cycle where they could never quite recoup their losses from their previous release.

At a music conference in Melbourne, Albini gave a keynote speech arguing that the rise of the internet completely undid that old, unfair system of major label advances and payola while giving artists the potential to sell directly to their audiences in ways that were impossible before. This talk reminded me why Fullscreen Direct is such a useful tool - it puts you in control of the entire end-to-end process of selling directly to your audience, allowing you to realize the full potential the rise of the internet has provided to bands and artists.

“The internet has facilitated the most direct and efficient, compact relationship ever between band and audience.”
- Steve Albini

One of the main issues in the 90s, according to Albini, was the fact that the audience was often left completely out of the equation. "Fans were expected to listen to the radio and buy records and bands were expected to make records and tour to promote them. And that was about all the thought either were given," he noted. Then came the internet.

With the internet, music is no longer a scarce commodity. In fact, in today's technologically driven world, music has become ubiquitous and often available for free. If you want to hear a band, you can download or stream their songs in an instant. With this, bands are able to increase reach and grow their audiences more easily than ever before. Albini cites an example of his band Shellac being able to play a tour in Eastern Europe to audiences as large as they were in North America, because "100% of our exposure had been through informal means over the internet or hand-to-hand."

With the dashboards of contextualized and actionable data in the Fullscreen Direct back-end, you can see where your fans are located and contact them directly. You have everything you need at your immediate disposal to make business and marketing decisions that bring you and your work to even more people.

In Steve Albini's words, "the music industry has shrunk. In shrinking it has rung out the middle, leaving the bands and the audiences to work out their relationship from the ends." At Fullscreen Direct we're building the platform to help anyone remove the middlemen and develop direct relationships that benefit both the audience and the brand.