Exclusive Interview Series: The internet and the music industry – Reform The Resistance

As part of a new series of interviews EspyRock commander-in-chief Michael Hughes, who is currently writing a dissertation on the effect of the internet on the music industry for the University Of The West Of Scotland, will be getting the views of artists on the internet’s effect on the music industry. The interview series will cover what is currently going on with the band at the moment but will also feature a questionnaire ranging from topics as to illegal downloading, social networking, technology and the future of the industry.

With their debut album being released on April 26th, Reform The Resistance took time to talk to us as they prepare to support ‘The Truth is Dangerous’.

Formed by brothers Jason and Sambo Moncivaiz after the split of Justifide, they look to offer a breath of fresh air to the music scene with their own mix of rock with electronica and hip-hop elements. Completing their line-up on drums is Ryan Dugger and the band sat down to answer our questions.

Be sure to keep an eye on the bands Facebook page and also if you like what you hear below then make sure to pick up a copy of ‘The Truth Is Dangerous’ on 26th April when it is released worldwide.


Interview

When Justifide split up, at the time you mentioned that the fun was being lost from the process of making music and the level of support given to you by your label wasn’t putting much faith in your eyes for the future. Has your faith in the direction of your career and fun and excitement of music now returned?

Yes it has. This time around, we’re not taking anything for granted. We are having fun throughout all of the process and really enjoying the ride.

Has Wuli Records shown you the kind of support you wish you had before? Yes, They have supported us more than anyone has in the past.

We truly feel like a team working towards all of the same goals. It means so much to know they truly believe in our music.

The band fuses hard rock with elements of different genres such as electronica and hip-hop. Does it come natural to bring these elements all together or does it take time to try work them together to try give yourself a more unique sound to stand out from the crowd?

The songs come naturally. We never force anything or try to be “different”. We all listen to so many genres and like to play so many styles, that it just comes out in parts when we all feel it. We stay true to ourselves and always take an “organic” approach to song writing.

For fans of Justifide do you think there is still some of that sound and passion from those albums fuelling you as you try to combine new elements for something new?

We were teenagers when we started that band, and now we’re all grown up. There are still elements of Justifide in our music, but we all feel like we have matured musically over the years and have developed something special with each other.

There has been heartbreak for both Jason and Sambo which in turn have given the lyrics a genuine emotional feel which others try to fake. Do you think this connection on a real level with the listener will help give the album that little bit more to it?

Everything we write is from experience. We feel that one of the strongpoints of the album is the fact that someone out there can connect with any given song on a personal level, either because it’s something they have gone through or are currently going through.

Reform The Resistance The Truth Is Dangerous ArtworkIn regards to the direction of the album and your comments, does the lyrically theme on the album look to the future, the light at the end of the tunnel as you stated and the effort to recover from blows whether it is through your faith or your own strength to look to the future?

We feel that one of the reasons that our music is genuine is because we never limit ourselves to theme-based boundaries. Every song really comes from its own place covering love, hurt, politics and experiences. If there is one common theme that pops up, it would stem from our faith in God because that flows into every aspect of our lives.

The album was produced in Jason’s own personal studio, did that help make the process a lot easier knowing you could simply just keep working on the tracks over and over until you had the desired result?

Totally! The word to describe it is comfort. We really took our time on it. There was so much freedom in the way we approached every part.

Did it also help having that control producing the album as you knew everything was the way you wanted it to be?

For Jason, he had to learn the hard way. Sometimes he would have to take on the role of the producer, and other times just be a band member. It was really tough at times because you don’t have that mediator there. It’s hard with Jason and Sambo being brothers, but their relationship definitely grew a lot from the experience.

April 26th is soon approaching, if you had only this moment to sell your album to those reading this then what would you say or ask of them?

In our opinion, It’s a freaking great album! It’s not us being arrogant, we always say if we don’t believe in it, then why would anyone else.

Jason: For me, it’s the first album I’ve ever been proud of through and through.

Just before I finish, one of the first things I noticed on the bands profile was “playing Fifa” and as a Scotsman, well we live and breathe football. Which British/European teams do you support if any? We strongly approve of a Glasgow Celtic response haha. Who is your tip for the Champions League this season?

Jason: Man U is my team. Defence baby! And Chicharito!

Sambo: I root for Inter Milan, so even though we are down 5-2, I have to keep the faith.

Ryan: I really believe that Barcelona is going to take it. There is no stopping Messi!

Internet and the music industry

The biggest issue with the internet for artists is of course illegal downloading and there has been a rapid decline in value of the industry as the internet expands throughout the world. Several artists I have spoken to have stated that it has become part of life and that now selling albums is no longer a profitable business; money is solely earned from touring. What are your views on the matter of illegal downloading?

We feel that people should have the ability to check it out before they buy it. You get to try on clothes or test drive a car, and we feel the same about music. But if you like it, its appropriate to buy it and support the artists you believe in. If you are downloading illegally, you are stealing…plain and simple.

Do you feel that any of the current methods such as watermarking or streaming based models which have users paying a fee to stream music will take off and help stop the illegal sharing of music files? Or do you see any strength with the idea of giving away your music for free, having it shared around the world and again relying on touring to make money?

Streaming helps in a way with people that listen to the radio online, but the majority of people want it on the go and in their cars. Giving it away for free makes a lot of sense for independent bands and could possibly be the best way to get your name out there.

The global recorded music industry saw a 31% decline in value from the years of 2004 to 2010 but the digital music market has seen a 1000% increase in value over the same period. Do you see the internet’s influence on the industry as the sole cause of this decline or do you believe there are any other factors which you consider an issue?

The internet has changed pretty much every aspect of our lives.

With such a growth in the digital music market, many artists have already stopped creating physical albums; the most notable is Rob Zombie who stated his most recent release would be his last physical album as the growing popularity of iTunes and Amazon is now controlling album sales. The IFPI recently published findings that 16.5% of internet users in the United States purchase their music digitally than physically.
Firstly as an artist and music fan, do you still buy physical albums or do you download from digital music stores? Secondly, do see the digital music markets as something positive for the industry and your career as a new and cheaper distribution method?

We all still prefer to have a physical copy. Sometimes, you have to download digitally because some artists only have digital distribution. The good thing about it is that it levels the playing field for smaller artists and labels. The bad part is how we have developed as a society because of instant gratification. We are used to getting things immediately and conveniently. As an artist, a song’s arrangement means so much, but you have to grab someone’s attention in the first ten seconds or else they will click elsewhere. If Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side Of The Moon” was just released, it wouldn’t sell because it takes too long to get going.

As the digital music stores assist in distribution, other factors that come into releasing an album are marketing and promotion of any sort. What are your views on the ability to use the internet to promote and market yourself?

It really is the first thing you must do these days. You can market to the entire world in an instance, and this has become the standard way to get your product to the public. The best way to market is word of mouth, but then again, the mouth of the world has become the internet.

Reform The Resistance - Live ShotSocial networking has naturally become a massive asset in the industry for labels and artists to be able to interact with fans on an everyday basis from anywhere in the world. Do you feel that if the social networking boom hadn’t taken place that it would effectively hinder careers as there would have been no direct route to communicate with fans?

Social media has definitely helped a lot, but I don’t think it would keep fans and artist from connecting. Before it existed, we would keep a journal online and email back and forth with fans. It’s a lot easier to be on a personal level with fans now.

A big development in recent years has been the hardware and software that has been created for anyone and everyone to purchase. We now find aspiring artists building their own home studios at their computer by purchasing top of line software, sound cards, microphones and such. What are your views on the technology advancements in recent years from software, hardware and even to the MP3 itself? What positives or negatives if any do you see from these advancements?

It’s a positive because it no longer takes $100,000 to make a great sounding record anymore. If you have the talent, you can find the resources needed to make a good album at a low cost. The bad part is that everyone thinks they are a producer because they have pro tools, and they end up bypassing all of the proven traditional learning methods.

While purchasing hardware/software and recording in your own home studio is a method of removing big studio costs and staff costs, recently fan funding in return for incentives has become a new way forward. Recently in the UK bands such as Madina Lake, Funeral For A Friend and The Blackout have used Pledge Music (Kickstarter in the US) in which fans contribute towards the cost of the studio in return for signed albums, special gifts and more. Do you think this method of involving fans more intimately in the creation of an album and offering them incentives to do so could be a way forward to combat the losses through piracy?

It’s important to make fans feel involved and a part of the process. This is something we are considering for the near future, and we believe this could help fight piracy by gaining a more dedicated following, although piracy isn’t going away any time soon.

In the United States from 1999 to 2009 there was a 17% fall in the number of people hired as a musician and in Europe, while not directly musicians, the estimated number of jobs likely to be lost due to piracy in the creative industries will reach 1.2 million by 2015. Do you worry as an artist that you will ever be swept by this wave and be forced to leave the industry you love in order to provide a better living for yourself?

Nope. We take everything day by day. We don’t put our faith in the music Industry.

When you consider the industry previously to the time before the internet and to now with the internet in full swing, what do you see for the future of the industry?

If the music industry is going to survive and thrive again, the development of young talent is crucial and should be a priority. Instead of seeing dollar signs out of the gate, industry leaders should be concentrating on quality first from our next generation of artists. I think the internet will one day lead to more success for small bands and labels that put their heart and soul into their music.

     

About Michael

Michael is the owner and creator of EspyRock. He is your general all round geek; sports fan; TV show fanatic. You can find him sharing his thoughts on his personal Twitter account. Contact Michael on Twitter or via Email.

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