You guys remember that dandy article I wrote about stupid pop songs? Well, Vocaloid songs aren’t excused from nonsensical lyrics. However, they key difference is that Vocaloid songs are user-generated. That means most of the songs (with the occasional exception of bands like Supercell) are made by one person. Of course some of them are wildly stupid or esoteric. However, it also means that the artist is in charge of their work, and not big record labels.
|These are the big name record companies. If you don't get signed with them, you might as well not exist.|
Even though some pop stars write their own songs (Lady Gaga, Ke$ha, Taylor Swift, etc.), that doesn’t mean they have total control over their music. They work for record labels, who work for money. No, the record labels don’t dictate what the artist does (this isn’t some crazy conspiracy theory). What they do is good business: they help the artist brand an image they think will sell.
If you don’t have the “sound” the record label wants, then you don’t get sold. In an industry as over-saturated with hopeful musicians as mainstream music, there is no room for what a band wants. It’s what the record label is willing to sign, and if the band and the record label match up, then everything works out. However, the other 99% are left out of the loop. Not necessarily because they’re bad, but just because they aren’t what the industry is looking for.
I’m not trying to demonize record labels (I save my demonizing for publishing houses). It’s not their fault that there are so many more bands than there are slots in the top forty. All they do is make the same decision any rational human being would: pick the bands that are most likely to sell. And not all the artists record labels sign suck. However, neither do all the bands they turn away.
Vocaloid music provides an excellent middle-ground. Yes, if a song makes it big KarenT (the Vocaloid record label) picks it up for distribution. However, that’s not the only way to find artists. Almost all of my favorite Vocaloid songs were found through old-fashioned browsing the internet. I listen to probably a hundred new songs every week, just clicking through related videos on Youtube or posted by some of the people I subscribe to. And I listen to a lot of crap. However, every time I find a song that rocks my socks, I take a little pride in knowing it was my choice to listen to that song, and not the record company’s.
|Behold! A very scientific breakdown of the music I listen to. But it's totally worth it.|
Vocaloids put the power back into the hands of the people who generate the songs. The whole Vocaloid fandom is one made by fans, for fans. Everything from the PVs to the songs to those silly little fanarts you find on the web. It’s a community that decides for itself what will be popular. That’s a kind of power that’s worth viewing a few crappy videos for.
What do you think? How does user-generated content affect the way media is marketed and made? Is having an interactive community important to enjoying something? Let me know!