Hearing voices

I remember when Napster first hit the Internet. Bizarrely, I found out about it via a radio show – an actual, honest-to-God DJ raved on air about this new application you could download for free and then share your music collection with people all over the world. Y’know, like you might do with your friends. That’s brilliant, right?

We all know what happened after. The earthquake tore across the music industry, then subsequently all of the other entertainment industries, its power increasing with every bandwidth jump offered by the world’s ISPs. It’s a problem which remains with us today – though I feel we might now be seeing the beginning of the recovery.

And it’s all down to voices.

In the past year or so, I have noted a huge change in my buying habits. Social media, as well as retail portals like iTunes, Amazon and Steam, have exposed me to the work of numerous small teams of people who create exactly the kind of product that I want. Tiny indie games, cheap debut albums and instrumental soundtracks are blossoming across the Net, riding a wave of enthusiast publicity and price points under a fiver which just scream, “How can you not buy this? It’s virtually FREE!” But what really makes these little projects stand out is the distinctiveness of their voices.

I’m excited for where this is taking us. There will always be huge, globally-advertised, glitzily-branded products with their mass media-saturation and correspondingly premium prices. And that’s fine. I want Avengers 2, as well. Oh lordy, how I want it so. But in between these behemoths sit thousands of interesting little creatures just waiting to be discovered – and behind those are hordes of creative people driven by nothing more than their own imaginations and the power of modern technology, undiluted by marketing or the stifling influences of ‘brand’.

We’re fortunate to live in a time when those voices can be heard and nurtured. Go out and have a look, listen and play. It’ll be worth it.

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