The advent of the Internet has turned the world upside down. Now we know information more than ever and knowledge is literally at our fingertips. Between desktop computers, netbooks, laptops, cell phones, and smart phones (are there dumb phones?) people are definitely connected. In the business world companies are hiring social media experts and advertising has come to a crossroads, creating new models for product development with the revolution of social networking. Oprah has embraced Skype as a way to connect with her audience. Even Regis and Kelly have a weekly viral video segment (Regis doesn’t even know what the Internet is).
What has the Internet done for songwriters? A friend and I were talking today about how she and a co-writer were songwriting through email. I asked her how she met this person and she said online. She is now writing music with a co-writer that would have previously been a perfect stranger had it not been for the Internet. Just last week she was in a co-writing session and the third songwriter was present via Skype. I asked her what she thought of all of her “.com” writing experiences; she said they were interesting.
It comes down to it being a double edged sword. The Internet is enabling co-writers to connect across geographic boundaries. Now creative minds are getting the chance to connect, when before it might not have been possible – this is amazing. A few months ago I was writing lyrics with a friend through the chat feature on Facebook! The double-edge is that the human contact is missing, the person isn’t there to judge the body language. This is a little different if you are songskyping, but it is hard to get context and vision out of instant messaging and emails.
There is also the issue of technology malfunctioning. We want to believe that it will always work, but there will be times the Internet is down or the service is unavailable. These road blocks are an obvious wet blanket to the fire of creativity. Songwriters need a trusting and carefree environment to open their minds and their hearts. If technology becomes a difficult beast, then I can only imagine the “shut down” of creativity.
Contrastingly, the potential use of songskyping could be fantastic. What if there is a sudden illness in the family and a songwriter has to relocate? The use of Internet would provide avenues for that writer to continue his or her work. Think of the hit songwriters that want to write with Taylor Swift or Jason Aldean, using Skype, the artist can connect with the writer here in Nashville and write on their tour bus.
I don’t believe that these Internet tools will replace Nashville networking. You still have to get out there and meet people and know the town. However I do believe we will begin to hear stories of hit songs being written in non-traditional ways using technologies like instant messaging, email and skype. Good luck to all of you songskypers out there!