The web: murderer AND saviour of the music industry?

I’ve had a front row seat to watch the decline of the music industry in the States and the UK . Sadly, I can vouch for the massive impact that illegal downloading has had on labels, artists and all involved in music production.

The internet, providing easy file sharing and the ability to get pirated tunes for free, has played a huge part in its demise.

But simultaneously the web is helping grow a new model of music production, thanks to the way it gives potential for unsigned artists to share their music with the world. Maybe this is a good thing – to break down the control of major labels and allow a more grassroots approach to music distribution? Perhaps it will help Christian music to stop sounding like it all came out of the same pipe? Perhaps it’s actually a blessing in disguise?

Independent music sites are helping promote these unsigned musicians alongside well known artists, to help them gain traction. One of these brilliant music sites is M-Bio and its digital magazine M.E.X., both run by brothers Matt and Adam Brooks. I chatted to Matt to get the scoop on their vision and how they are helping boost the Christian music scene through their web presence:

Hi Matt, so you are one of the founders of www.m-briomusic.com, a very fast growing Christian music website here in the UK. What was your vision in starting this site?

That’s an interesting question. The truth is that Adam (my older brother) and I started out the website simply to help someone who was doing an event and wanted to spread the word. There was no strategic or business plan for what now is M-brio Music… It kind of just happened. For some reason our site (set up to promote the event) started getting thousands of views and so to keep coming back (mainly at that point to get information about the event) we started putting the odd news article up on the website which then boosted the traffic to our site even more and the rest (as they – whoever they are – say) is history.

Illegal Internet downloading has really hurt the music industry. It’s great that the ‘net can also be harnessed to help music and musicians succeed. How do you see this happening through M-Brio?

We pride ourselves on providing a high quality, consistent user experience. People enjoy visiting our website and because we only ‘promote’ music of a certain quality, our consumers trust that the music they see on our website will be of a certain standard. Because of this, when n artist is featured on our website, it is more likely that our consumers will take the time to view the content. We also post links to buy music in every article making it easier for people to buy music from an artist they have discovered on our website.

Do you think the internet will make record labels totally unnecessary in future years, as self released and promoted music is more and more viable online? 

I don’t think the internet will make labels totally unnecessary, however I do think the “power” that record labels had has significantly diminished since musicians have been effectively using the resources available online for themselves. We’re living in an age where it’s easy to build a connection to fan-bases/supporters etc and organically build relationships with people who will buy your music. The use of email lists (used to keep supporters up-to-date with what you’re doing) and social networking make all this possible. Also, distributing your music is much easier… Download sites and even sites that will manufacture and distribute your physical CD’s are readily accessible and even offer independent artists the chance to impact the charts (of course if they sell enough).

I see record labels acting more as PR managers and agents utilizing their vast array of relationships with print/online and broadcast media to keep an artist in the press, their songs on the radio and gain TV coverage.

Tell us about “M.E.X” your digital music magazine – has starting a digital magazine been easy or difficult?

M.E.X Magazine  (M-brio Express) was something that started as an idea from Adam and within 2 weeks the first one was launched. However it has been a hard task… Running M-brio Music is time consuming enough so editing a whole magazine (which is a task I undertake) is no mean feat. Adam who does all of our design work always has his work cut out so it takes a lot of time. It is rewarding though, we’ve seen individual magazines reach in excess of 100’000 unique readers, which is awesome considering that it’s just 2 brothers putting it all together.

We try to involve others in the process to make M.E.X Magazine something that relates to many different people from different walks of life so we have contributors that write articles and submit them to us. One of the challenges we face is constantly having fresh perspectives so if there’s anyone out there who would like to contribute articles to the M.E.X Magazine website or magazine itself, let me know.

Finally, let us know how we can follow you and M-Brio on Twitter to stay up to date.

You can follow me, Matt Brooks on @MattJABrooks. You can follow Adam on @AdamBrux. You can follow M-brio Music on @mbriomusic. You can follow M.E.X Magazine on @mexmag. Our sites are:  www.m-briomusic.com and www.ireadmex.com