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Technology means the kids are doing it for themselves

The rapid consumer adoption of personal digital players such as the iPod and the resulting explosive growth in digital downloading has increased press commentary on the music industry as it adapts to these “new technologies”. In reality, over the last thirty years technology has continually been transforming the music industry; not only in the way music is consumed but far more fundamentally in the way music is recorded and performed. Technology has always been the bedrock of the music industry.

The recent demise of Whitfield Street though sad was inevitable. As an early pioneer of the digital age and like many other well established recording studios of the time, it invested heavily to provide clients with state of the art facilities. Today, low cost, high quality, recording, processing and mixing solutions have led to affordable studio time being available up and down the country. Studios are no longer the expensive and hallowed domain of a small and exclusive clientele of signed artists.

Over the last three years we’ve seen a substantial increase in both the quality and quantity of submissions we’re receiving from aspiring artists, a significant proportion, more than good enough for release. Arkade ( was developed to provide artists with the tools to monetise their product at a price they determine without losing control of their rights. Already we’re seeing bands using the site very effectively, building their fan base from live performances and viral efforts and communicating with them. Consumers are taking time to discover, stream and download new unsigned music, find out where artists are playing, buy tickets, go to gigs, and order the t-shirt.

Getting signed, being managed, being able to write, even being able to play an instrument proficiently are today no longer fundamental prerequisites for artists wanting to record, release and perform their music. Instead the industry is returning to the most basic and exciting element of all, the raw ability of an artist to communicate with their audience on their own merits and not as the subject of colossal media hype. There are no longer any filters, any arbiters of taste, any barriers, only artists and consumers whose appetite for music today is insatiable. In small studios throughout the UK artists are busy creating more music than ever before, performing it live, growing their fan base and becoming ever more successful. Arctic Monkeys are the first of many.

Greg Walsh
The Ark Group
This article was first published in Music Week on 21 January 2006