First there was the wait. Then came the tension. Is it going to be good, or even, who knows, better? Did they evolve? But have stayed the same?
Finally, the creation, followed very quickly by pure delight. Yes, it was not only good, after ten years without a new album, but it was awesome. The miracle happened, the spectacular demonstration of love you receive when you do not disappoint people that were already crazy about you. But I am not sure Daft Punk was expecting what they got after just releasing one song.
A creator shows their love to their audience by giving through their art. Every good song or book feels like a token of affection, every lyric that resonates becomes a bond between you and them. That’s the magic of any personal emotion that becomes a universal one. And in return? We bought, applauded and sometimes even screamed. That was our way of showing how deep our love went. But today, ten years after the first Daft Punk album, the context has changed.
The music industry was one of the first to experience the digital shift right. Napster, its collapse, the fight of the labels, piracy, the laws to kill it, iTunes and the iPod thrown into the mix, the cordiale entente that succeeded the war. Yes, the industry experienced a dramatic evolution, and the listeners empowered by the digital revolution changed the rules by destroying them. The industry hated the change but artists have had to embrace what is happening with this shift: a new relationship, a true exchange.
Your audience does not only listen but composes, your fans do not only applaud but explore their creativity. I am wondering what makes Daft Punk smile the most: breaking a record on Spotify or listening day after day to stunning new covers they inspire?
The internet has become our place of experimentation, and the creators have discovered what used to be an audience wants to be more. The new medium has invited us to express ourselves. It creates a certain feeling of intimacy we could not imagine with artists. We used to see them on big TV shows, as an event, and now we let ourselves go wild with millions of fans when discovering a performance at a festival, or listening on Rdio to the new track as much as we want. An industry is dead but music is more alive than ever.
Our relationship with music is emotional. But the collaborative dimension the internet gives to it added something essential. To feel that a song resonates strongly not only for you but for millions on a daily basis is not the same as waiting for a concert once every three years to share with thousands of fans. We now have the permission to let it belong to us and let our love express itself all the time.
Artists that accept this new deal will be the digital artists. We comment, we criticize, we share, we listen infinitely, we help people discover about our new or ancient loves or we do our own covers. It becomes so natural for us to make the best of the internet. Share what we love to say who we are. Talent is not so common, having access to even one unexpected artist is valuable. Each time I hear an amazing cover, or I discover on Soundcloud a contest to create the best remix of one of the latest songs from Phoenix “Trying To Be Cool”, it makes me feel lucky to live in an era that allows us to share our passions and to be inspired by a song. Surprises are a big ingredient of a successful relationship.
It implies also respect on both side of the table. When you love someone, you respect them and want to make it last forever. The digital artists that will embrace the new medium and conversation as much as we do will not be stolen. Am I naive? Maybe, but I want to be sure that the ones that give me so much will receive in return. Not only money, but a sign that I want this fulfilling interaction to continue, that I want to keep them in my life. I will buy their music, I will go to the concerts. I do not know for the music industry, but I know artists have a place to create an unprecedented relationship with their audience if we meet at the same place with the right mindset. In a recent interview Daft Punk talked about the essence of their new album:
“This album is about technology going towards humanity, in a world where humanity is going towards technology”
Spot on. Humanity is being expressed like crazy through and thanks to technology with millions of individuals.
Artists did not have this new playground for fans to show their love and passion ten years ago. Not only to connect with us but to express themselves. By express I do not mean having a Twitter account but more to share their music. Before the internet the path was well known: studio, release, promotion and concerts. Today you can do whatever you want. The internet could also be their playground and allow us to find some secret surprising pearls, like your favorite band playing acoustic in Paris on a tour bus. I wish more artists would be truly jumping into the digital era and using it to experiment. I do not want to see what could have been done 15 years ago just translated to digital form. I want the singers and bands we love not only to “use” the internet because they have to but because they want to. Like us, it will give them a new space of expression and an infinite platform to exchange and connect with us through their art. I have this dream to see Daft Punk make a cover of Liztomania. Yes, why not? The artists of the digital era do not have to stay in an ivory tower to get our respect. They just have to deserve it by being freakily awesome and genuine. Do not go on the internet if you do not like it. I enjoy having access to more interviews, articles, and videos because of the internet, but it was already the case 10 years ago. If you want to exchange or imagine with us even more, do not hesitate. I love what Kelli Anderson, artist and designer, said during a Creative Mornings New York:
“The Web is a really fertile ground for experimentation because it is rapidly becoming the format that we spend most of the time staring at”.
We do not have the monopoly of finding inspiration there. Everybody, famous artists included, can as well. If this playground can also allows us to discover the stars of tomorrow. Not by jury on The Voice, but again by acknowledged artists supporting the ones who deserve it on the platform we belong to and can interact with.
I love this statement from Tom Peters : “Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders.”
Daft Punk or Phoenix have already done a great job by inspiring more passionate amateurs to be vulnerable enough to offer their own vision and unique talent in a song. But the real empowerment will be to see some of the good ones become the object of our affection.
The internet changed our relationship to artists, especially musicians. What about the opposite? Leaders of the 21th century will have a lot in common with artists affirms John Maeda. Fitting with the digital shift, artists collaborate, know how to communicate and learn how to learn together according to John:
“Whether they explicitly acknowledge themselves as leaders or not, artists often move others to follow them(…) They do it through the skills that are inherent in their work as professional “inspirers” and provocateurs.”
Daft Punk’s recent collaborator, Pharrell Williams is a perfect illustration of the artist as a new leadership figure in the digital area, experimenting and highlighting creators he believes in with his specific vision and skills while inspiring people to cultivate their uniqueness to impact society. I can not wait to see more artists being force of change.
We’ve come too far to give up who we are
So let’s raise the bar and our cups to the stars