30 Seconds to Mars frontman Jared Leto says technology is acting as an equaliser for bands, freeing them from record labels which messed up digital distribution
The cloud and digital distribution are acting as equalisers for creative industries stifled by traditional methods of delivery, according to musician and Oscar-winning actor Jared Leto, who believes technology is reducing the barriers to entry in the music industry.
“Technology has been a great equaliser and shifted the balance of power,” he told the audience at Boxworks 2014 conference in San Francisco. “I think direct-to-consumer has changed everything.”
The 30 Seconds to Mars frontman said it was cheaper and easier to produce music using cloud services like Box as they reduced the reliance on third parties. Bands can collaborate with other musicians, producers and sound engineers directly, bypassing record labels who have acted as “gatekeepers” for so long.
Removing barriers to entry
“It’s as hard as ever to write a song and find an audience,” Leto explained. “But you don’t need permission to start.”
His own band is one of the beneficiaries of this revolution. 30 Seconds to Mars have just left their record label after 15 years and are now taking a proactive role in e-commerce, ticketing and the distribution of videos.
Leto is also a fan of social media, which he said gives the band a chance to speak directly to fans.
“We now have this open ended conversation and it’s magical,” he said. “We’re really fortunate right now.”
Leto said that although record labels can be good for some artists and can be filled with people who work really hard, he doesn’t miss being tied down to a deal as the way bands make money from music is changing in an environment dominated by the likes of iTunes and Spotify.
For some bands, album sales only generate a small portion of their revenue with live concerts and tours more profitable. Leto’s venture VyRT aims to monetise these events beyond ticket sales by providing a platform that allows fans at home to watch too.
A fee is charged for access to a live stream and a digital copy of the band’s latest album, while a social feed lets the fans have conversation with each other and purchase merchandise.
“The music business was the canary in the coalmine,” he said. “[It] was a bad and slow adopter of technology. They had this great platform with Napster and could have done a deal, but they fucked it up.”
The film, television and even video game industries have been more receptive to digital media than music, possibly because of the latter’s struggle against piracy, and Leto believes all creative industries can benefit from this technological revolution.
“I think most forms of art, even experiential forms, can be digitised in some way,” he said. “It’s a golden era for music and a great time for art.”
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