Credit: Wikimedia commons
In the modern, digital era of music, it is sometimes easy to get wound up in the mainstream and what is new. However, although music streaming giants such as Spotify have helped to create this buzz around anything new and popular, they also employ mechanisms and technologies that ensure that other, less mainstream and even older music still gets the listens, recognition and love it so often deserves. I believe this is one of the major positives surrounding the digitalization of the music industry as it provides a platform for these less mainstream artists, an opportunity that may not have been available to them under the previous (non-digital) regime of the music industry.
The Spotify radio feature for example allows listeners to listen to different artists, albums and songs based on their existing tastes, and also allows the listener to personalize their own individual radio station according to their preferences.
It is thanks to this feature that I originally came to meet ‘the Anonymous nobody…’ . Now I don’t profess to be some sort of Hip-Hop or Rap guru, but having been a fan of the genre all my life, I found myself seeking something different to the same old mainstream artists that I had always listened to. This was why I initially decided to (hip) hop on to the sound waves of the Hip-Hop radio station on Spotify.
It was shortly after this that the Anonymous Nobody kindly introduced itself to me. After traipsing through some of the sometimes quite obscure music I was being fed, I was eventually quite relieved to hear the familiar sounds of Snoop Dogg featured on a track I had never heard before. The song was “Pain” from the 2016 album “and the Anonymous Nobody…” by ‘old-school’ Hip-Hop group De la soul.
As I mentioned earlier I am no Hip-Hop guru. So I am ashamed to admit that prior to this, I had never heard of the apparent Hip-Hop royalty that is De la soul. Having listened to the Anonymous Nobody and being completely captivated by it, I wondered WHY this was the case. Eventually I realised that it may have been because the group had not released an album in over a decade, and also, most of their older work was not available on streaming services. Again, I wondered… WHY?
It turned out that most of their back catalogue was not available on streaming services as contracts that the group signed in the past for the samples used on the albums was only valid for vinyl and cassette mediums (What are those?). Although, I believe the digitalization of music has largely been a positive thing, this outlined to me one of the apparent drawbacks of the technological advancements made in the music industry and especially for De la soul themselves.
As most artists would be if their music was trapped in an outdated and obsolete medium limbo, the group were extremely frustrated that fans could not access their work and also became frustrated with their label Warner Bros who the group felt were not making enough effort to rectify the situation.
Read more about the struggle here.
So after over a decade of frustration, the group decided they needed to do something different when making their new album. Therefore instead of relying on their label to fund it, they turned to their fans, and what ensued was one of the most successful crowdfunding campaigns ever recorded.
The group raised well over the amount they initially aimed for and as a result, were able to create the masterpiece that is the Anonymous Nobody with the artistic freedom that may not have been afforded to them under their label.