Recently, I put out a sample pack designed for musicians producing electro swing songs and remixes, and, at first, it sold pretty decently. I was very new to the market of audio production resources, so I was still figuring out how best to promote my products… I was posting on Bassadelic, on music forums, everywhere I could find – as well as one other place – Facebook group pages.
I did a Facebook search for ‘Electro Swing,’ and found several groups, and joined a few. I thought it’d work, and, honestly, it did help me out. I joined a group that was dedicated to “Romanian Electroswing,” and about a week or so after I posted on there, I noticed a mild spike in sales! Now, I’m still starting out with my Bassadelic site, so I want to emphasize that I’m definitely not getting rich doing this, but there’s a much bigger point at hand: I started to contemplate the whole thing, and, slowly, I put the pieces together and figured out what had actually happened – and I had an epiphany about the internet, and it’s fundamental nature, culturally…
Could those Romanians have found out about my electro swing pack somewhere else? Sure! But they didn’t. (I don’t have the budget of a large corporation, but in reality, most people don’t. So I’m not totally alone on that, either.) I also posted on Youtube, and, as I said, a handful of other music forums as well, but that’s not where these particular Romanian
Electroswing fans found my sample pack. These folks found out about my samples on a page specifically set up for their local music scene THAT I POSTED ON.
Why is that relevant? Well, stop and think about it for a second: people on one side of the world are not necessarily inclined to look at websites published on other sides of the world quite as often as people living there… Now before anyone corrects me on that, keep in mind, I am aware that a statement like that isn’t true ALL the time… You might cite ounterexamples, and, well, of course you would be partially right… Yes, there is access to Google in Romania and elsewhere, and yes, they are obviously using Facebook, too… But there’s an important difference…
There are billions or trillions of super-mega-jillions of sites out there, and you’re not going to click on all of ’em. If you’re an American, there’s a decent chance you’re not going to land on TOO many Romanian sites out there. Sure, you might land on a couple, once in a great while, but primarily, I bet most of the sites you look at are from North America or Western Europe. There are tons of sites out there, in most countries on the planet – and you can bet that a lot of Greek sites dedicated to local Greek music are visited heavily by Greeks, and that a lot of German sites discussing a music scene from Berlin are frequented by a lot of Germans, etc…
It makes sense, doesn’t it? I mean, it might not be relevant for someone outside of a specific niche or field to venture there, most of the time – and, again, this isn’t always true, but people often don’t tend to stray too far from a handful on specific-culturally-based sites.
I mean, when’s the last time you knowingly clicked on a site based in Russia (not counting torrent sites)? A few times, maybe. And, although I sometimes make the joke that 90% of all websites are based in northern California, the truth is, they’re not.
So what the hell is my point? Well, I wanted to write the last few paragraphs out to preface my main point, because if I told you, in the first sentence, that, “actually, there are dozens of internets,” you’d think I was making a joke, but you wouldn’t laugh, because that joke has been made before (in reference to 4chan) and then you’d leave, and go eat some dinner. (Or, at least, that’s what I would do, because I’m quite hungry, and I think I still have some leftover Taco Bell waiting for me.)
Anyway, my point is, there are multiple hubs (I’m hesitant to use the phrase “multiple internets,” because, yes, they’re all based on one worldwide series of connections) and these culturally-based web spaces/hubs DO overlap (mostly around the edges, which helps consistently maintain this illusion that we’re all a bit more completely connected then we actually are) … and, in theory, we are all COMPLETELY connected. Or, at least, potentially, right?
But are we really as connected as we think? I would say, ‘no, we’re not.’ Not yet. Are we getting there? Yes, I think so. I fully believe that in the next few decades, the internet will help fundamentally change so much about our society. It’s already been happening for the last couple decades, but we’re definitely still in the opening stages of it.
For right now, at least, there are different clusters or hubs of similarly (or SOMEWHAT similarly) minded web spaces…
There are the web spaces in North America, Western Europe (with a lot of cross-pollination) as well as Eastern Europe, and web spaces on the other side of the planet: a Pacific-Asian web space, an Indian web space, a Middle Eastern web space, and, well you get the idea. I could keep going. The point is, as I said, there are definitely different web spaces based on region and culture, and this point is not emphasized as much as it could be in the great media landscape of present.
Yes, again, there is overlap; but in a paradigm that stresses how interconnected we all are, I think we’d be quite surprised to find out we AREN’T quite as connected as we think. I’m not trying to say we should try to stay disconnected from other cultures; in fact, I think diversity can be a very good thing, for a lot of reasons. But if you really want get your ideas or your music or your brand (or whatever it is) here’s my advice: don’t set up a website and assume people will come to you.
Go to them. Build the connections that don’t yet exist between yourself and the billions of people out there in the world who have no idea who you are or what you’re about. If you’re a musician (which, again, I’m assuming you might be, seeing as you’ve clicked onto a site called Bassadelic) or a fisherman (which I also assume you probably are, seeing as you’ve clicked onto a site called Bassadelic) don’t be afraid to travel to web spaces you’ve never spent much time in. Google Translator exists, and could serve you well.
Here’s one more example of what I’m talking about… there are social networks all over the world, and facebook, by far, does NOT have a majority of the social networking market. Oh, sure, it’s huge, yes! But there are social networking sites specific to China, for example. How many people are going onto a Chinese version of Facebook, who won’t see some new invite or post you just put up on your Facebook page?
So, like I said, I’m not trying to trash the internet for not being connected enough; I’m saying there’s a huge gap between the idea of how interconnected we all are, and reality. But what needs to happen is a grand bridging of the gaps that exist. Only then will we be as connected as we potentially could be.
Why is this important?
There are pockets of culture all over the place that are waiting to be discovered. I never would have learned what ‘grime’ rap was if I never went onto British websites, or the relatively small number of websites or folks in America that bridged that gap as best they could, a decade ago (because let’s be honest, here – how many Americans even know what grime is?) and I never would’ve learned about the avant-garde Japanese experimental jazz music from the 1970s if I hadn’t gone out of my way to look for music in different parts of the world, out of pure curiosity (turns out there are some folks in the West that knew about that, but not many, so I must thank them for bridging THAT gap) But how many other gaps exist that we don’t even know about yet? There are probably lots of them, and I probably don’t have to even say how rewarding it is to find a new music trend from another part of the world that really inspires you. It’s validating to find out there are people somewhere in the world making music that you really like, even if it’s not being made two blocks from your house.
Skweee is another great example. It’s a very small genre, as far as the number of fans it could boast; but if you’re interested in wonky, experimental, retro and stripped-down synthetic funk music from Finland or Sweden, then you’d love to check out a new track by Motem. I also love the art style employed by a lot of skweee artists. It has a certain flair to it that you just don’t see over here in the States.
So, it’s good to bridge these connections because you can learn about new and incredible talent from the other side of the world, and people from the other side of the world can learn about your incredible talent, as well. Hey, maybe opening up international markets to one another would be a great way for artistic folks to better get their music and art to people who’d really appreciate it, and people could once again start making a living being creative (just like in that ‘golden age’ of music… the 1990s)…
Ok, I’m obviously being more than a little sarcastic when I call the 90s a ‘golden age,’ for music, or the music consumer… seeing as a CD cost $18.99 (and that’s $18.99 IN 90s MONEY!!) but if you charge fairly, you might be able to make it work. So there you have it – the “money-makin’ / capitalist” aspect of why it’s important, and also the “pure discovery of art” aspect. Eh?
I would finally like to point out that there are definitely some folks that sincerely have a real curiosity towards life and culture, and it’s specifically those among us who are most likely going to be the ones to help build these bridges. Some folks honestly don’t give a fuck. I guess that’s fine… some people are content with what they’ve got. But if you’re so inclined as to be one of the bridge-builders, then kudos, hats off to ya’, and 13-pez-themed smileys for you! (A little nerdy GHF humor there) You are going to be the ones that help shape and determine how the internet will look in the next ten, twenty, and thirty years. Cheers!
…Are you STILL unconvinced? Consider this: a TON of folks in Asia are JUST NOW discovering what dubstep is. It’s been all over Facebook and Youtube and Google for years, and yet, only now are most people catching onto it over there. Again, it’s probably not their fault. They’re in a different web space, as we are, from them. But, I’ve already stated all this in the article, so I’ll drop it and wait for some negative comments, now :)
(footnote: very sorry to end an article with a note about dubstep… um…. here, I’ll make it up to you… here’s an awesome photo of a cat…)