The very evening after I wrote my post bitching about Jay-Z's latest release, a post popped up in my Facebook feed notifying me that Jay Park's latest EP was out and giving me a link to where it was on iTunes. I clicked on the link, previewed the songs, and bought the ones I wanted--easy-peasy.
Then I wrote up an addendum to that post to contrast the two experiences, but I decided not to post it. I mean, we all know who Jay-Z is--people who know nothing about hip-hop know who Jay-Z is--and we all know that his album already sold a gazillion copies before it was even released. If you don't live in Asia, however, you've probably have never even heard of Jay Park.
So you know, he is a Korean-American singer and rapper who tried to go the traditional K-Pop route but ran afoul of his label and is now basically independent (he works with labels, but he's not owned by them the way Korean musicians so often are). Since he was born and raised in the U.S., Park really understands the way Americans use the Internet, plus his first language is English. He's really got it on the ball when it comes to social media and the like. When I was trying to figure out how I wanted to do my Block B Web site (NO, the domain name doesn't work yet, God damn it! I don't know what the fuck is wrong with Hover, but I am calling them tomorrow--AGAIN. ETA: OK, I called--apparently the problem was the "name servers," whatever the hell those things are. But the person was lovely and supposedly it will be working within 48 hours. EATA: OK, now it's functional), Park's Web site was the one I looked at. And he has a Facebook page that updates just often enough so that I know it hasn't been abandoned, but not often enough to annoy me--plus it provides me with convenient links to his new music the minute it is available for purchase.
And whaddya know, Park's EP debuted in the top 10 of iTunes' R&B list in fifteen different countries, including hitting #4 in the U.S.
In other words, a few days ago the #4 bestselling digital R&B album in the United States was by a guy you've never heard of. And was largely not in English.
Hey, I guess I get to make a post out of this after all!
I mean, think about it--who's the writer equivalent of Jay-Z in this day and age? Stephen King, Scott Turow--all the folks who did it the old way, who can coast off their existing reputations, and who can rely on large corporations to throw enormous bags of money their way regardless of the quality of their work. They do things a certain way, which makes sense for them, because they've already made it big. It's not a path that's actually available to someone who hasn't made it big yet.
But what Park has done? That focus on lowering barriers to entry? Making purchasing beyond easy for the consumer? Samples? So something indie writers can do.