Exclusive Interview Series: The internet and the music industry – Senser

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.

Politically-charged English rap rock band Senser took time to answer some of our questions next. The band spoke to us about the continued response to their latest album ‘How To Do Battle’, how it feels to be cited as an influence and their future. The band also took time to answer a few of our questions related to the industry so be sure to check it out.

Be sure to follow the band on Facebook and check out their music on MySpace. If you like what you hear then head over to their store right now.

The band is also running a brand new video competition over at in which you can win a free copy of Magic Bullet Looks. Head over for more details.


Now that ‘How To Do Battle’ has now been out for two years do you look back on anything and wish you had done anything a little different?

Different band members have differing thoughts on the recording process and where to draw the line on a finished work. Some people are great at banging it out and being happy with their one take wonders, others can feel there’s always some little tweak somewhere on a track that can improve the whole song; it’s important to know where to draw a line and move on to keep things fresh. Having said all that the tracks always keep developing when we take them into the live arena.

Where you pleased with the response it received both here and in Europe and still the continued response coming through?

The response to ‘How To Do Battle’ has been great. Easily the best since our first album ‘Stacked Up’.

What influences your writing musically; what gives you the inspiration to write especially when you have been doing this for so many years?

Musically it can be a feeling or tune or style that gets in your head especially other new sounds that we hear coming through. I guess we always crave creating that buzz when you hear something’s played back or when we do a gig and it just feels like the planets have gone into alignment and it’s just effortlessly working

Do you ever think about being named as an influence to other artists; what would it mean to the band to know that you are fuelling a new generation of musicians?

Obviously it’s very gratifying to hear that your music has meant enough to someone to influence another band or musicians music. We’ve had a few artists name check us as an influence, some who’ve had a fair amount of success which is definitely a nice boost for the ego!

Senser - BandKerstin will be of course taking a break from the band with her baby and we would like to take this time to pass on our best wishes to her and her family with the new baby on the way. How well has iMMa fitted in with the band?

iMMa has been doing an amazing job, she’s very similar to Kerstin in many ways but she also has her own style which has really been working well in our set up; for a young lass she has very many vocal and performance skills

Are you planning further dates with iMMa or will this time be used to consider new material or any other avenues of business?

We’ve been a little slow to book gigs over the summer as we weren’t sure how we were going to play it with Kerstin being off but as it has worked out well with iMMa we’ll be doing as many dates as we can and hopefully find some time to do some writing too.
By the time Kerstin is ready to gig again we should be a well-oiled rocking unit.

You played the Download Festival last summer and from what I can tell the reception for you was incredible. Do you enjoy playing the festivals and would you again if the offers came through?

We’ve always loved playing festivals. It’s where we grew up playing as a band. We’ve been lucky with our festival opportunities having played great slots at tiny vibed out free festivals to most of the major UK and Euro festivals such as Download, Reading, Glastonbury etc. We’re always up for them, just let us know where and we’ll be there.

Did you enjoy performing at Kick Out The Jams with the likes of Breed 77 and Ill Nino?

Kick Out The Jams was a great vibe. When we first started out playing there were loads of smaller independent festivals that catered for more alternative tastes and it was like going on a strange adventure when you went to one but nowadays nearly all those festivals have gone and a lot of the big festivals have become very commercialised; it’s great to have something around which is cool and underground

During the off time between gigs what interests do you have?

Besides the usual family, friends, eating, drinking, socialising and falling over at the end of an evening we’ve been taking a lot of what exists around bands in house and creating them ourselves such as the web design/development, social media, video filming and editing, gig promotion and putting on our own club; these things take up a fair amount of time as our other halves will no doubt testify

What is the plan for the rest of 2011 for the band?

We work with a group of guys who take over dis-used venues and spaces and squat them. They then turn these places into cool underground clubs with great visuals, PA’s and bands. So far we’ve run a night which had a great crowd and really cool bands so we’re going to be doing more of these club nights again soon. We’ll also be doing more gigs and festivals over the summer… hopefully get some writing in. We’re looking at releasing previously recorded but unreleased material as a compilation album, and maybe another single from our latest album ‘How To Do Battle’.

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?

Illegal downloading is a double edged sword for bands… on the one hand it gets your music out there and broadcasted in ways that it couldn’t previously. This can help grow a following who might come to your shows, buy your shirts etc which is great. But there’s no denying that illegal sharing has decimated large parts of the music industry as so many less albums are being sold or if they are being sold they’re being sold for far less in order to compete with all the ‘free stuff’ that’s being put out there.

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?

It’s hard to say what the best solution is or best way to view it, it’s like there’s been a huge explosion and the dust hasn’t settled yet. In some ways it’s exciting and requires a radical approach. We give stuff away for free from our websites as this gives us a chance to interact with people, it’ll only end up on the net anyway so this way we can have a bit of a say in what’s going on.

Senser - BandThe 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?

Whilst there’s been a decline in music sales there’s been a rise in gig/festival attendance, also the gaming and computer industries have opened up a whole new world for people It’s possibly not entirely the net’s fault but it’s certainly a fairly large factor; the ‘record’ industry really took off in the middle of the last century. There was probably another huge industry that’s not so big anymore which was around the century before that; guess there’s always an ebb and flow to most things.

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?

I buy CD’s but they get ripped straight away and probably only ever see the CD drive of my computer. I’m ‘old fashioned’, I like having the physical thing even if it doesn’t see much action!
I also buy digitally, not just music but books and films too. Again I’ll try to get a hard copy if I can though. I’m a big fan of the digital distribution era. The whole world becomes your market place.

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?

With online marketing there’s a plethora of music sites now, some the most successful have also been around in print for a long time too so promotion is still slightly reliant on the old mediums. To get your head above the see of stuff out there you have to be present in as many places as possible; ultimately this costs someone’s time and money to get you there. The mechanics of getting yourself seen are easier with the internet but it still requires a fairly huge investment to really work.

Social 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?

Very few companies have become multi billion operations within a few years and it’s testament to its far reaching potential that social networking sites have been so successful.


About ??

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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