I was browsing through Last.fm a while back and I got this message from a user named dripmanila:
thanks for listening to Drip!We’ve just uploaded the Live@Saguijo version of Turning Gray at www.last.fm/music/drip
After a little bit of investigative reporting, I found out that Drip wasn’t the only one that had offered some content on the web. Daydream Cycle had an audio stream preview of their song A Lousy Judge of Character on the site, and “Wolfgang” (probably just a foreign band with the same name, see Sugarfree) had a bunch of songs uploaded for streaming as well. Even disbanded acts like the Eraserheads have some content on Last.fm. But those are just audio streams, the typical web surfer would not go into the trouble to rip them, especially since other sites like Tristan Cafe offer the entire tracks for sampling, instead of just 30-second samplers. What is truly intriguing is that Drip, a fairly established act here in the Philippines, would freely give out content, even advertising it. That’s mp3 content, the type one can burn to iPods and such without much hassle and burn as many times as one likes. This is trumped only by Rivermaya’s release of an entire free album, but then that’s a different case, as Rivermaya was long established by then. Drip isn’t the only band to do it either. Bleud, a Filipino band based in America, has offered even more content for people to download. In an environment of mediocre-to-poor CD sales in the Philippines, why would they go and cut into their own profits?
This actually isn’t a tough question to answer. They’re looking for some exposure, and Last.fm is their preferred means of finding it. Considering that bands like My Chemical Romance and Coheed & Cambria both got their big breaks after posting downloads on Last.fm, they can’t really be faulted for trying now can they? Add that to those Myspace success stories and you can see how these these bands might not be fools, but innovative geniuses, at least down the line.
Of course, this is not America. The Philippine music industry pays a lot of focus to appearances and show (See pogi rock and show bands), and the actual music comprises only part of the package that the mainstream audience wants to see. Sadly, these offerings will likely be overlooked, if only for their lack of name appeal and music videos. Ironic, isn’t it?
Still, at least for the true music connoisseurs, this development is definitely a boon. Audio streams, though convenient, usually covered only the mainstream fare we probably want to avoid (<insert annoying mainstream band here> again?). Drip has certainly done something very new here, and it will definitely make music aficionados very happy. After all, it’s hard enough sometimes to find those indie releases in your typical record bar. How great is it to have a taste of the band at your fingertips? It would at least whet one’s appetite for a full album, ideally at least. Consider this: you play one of your favorite bands and use Last.fm to find similar artists. Let’s say you see an indie band you’ve never heard of there. How nice would it be to have a sample of that band right then and there ready to download? It would help a band get some new followers, and perhaps convince them to buy their albums as well. Being able to take it anywhere makes the deal all that sweeter, and helps keep the name of the band in listener’s heads at least. After all, streams will be easily forgotten once you close the window or otherwise. A 4 KB download on your desktop won’t be as forgettable, now will it?
Kudos to Drip for something refreshingly different. Hopefully other bands will follow accordingly.