[box type=”info”] Zef is a Chiptune artist from Saskatchewan, Canada. His debut release was released through NoiseChannel.org.[/box]
I’m going to be talking about the chipmusic scene, and one thing in particular that makes it very unique. In chipscene, artists make music, perform shows, and distribute albums just like in any other music scene, however chipmusic artists exhibit one major difference that distinguishes them from most of the music industry: In the majority of cases; chipmusic artists are doing these things for free.
For those who aren’t familiar with chipmusic already; jump on over here and pick up a quick background on it. For some reason chip artists are breaking the mould and they’re giving away perfectly good music when they could be making a profit on it; I believe there are several compounding reasons for this phenomenon.
Firstly; chipmusic is a rather small niche of the music market (though it’s growing in popularity quite quickly) that is to say, it had humble beginnings. It started off as people simply messing around with old hardware to see what new things they could do with it. Onlookers started paying attention and joining in themselves. Since its very beginnings chipscene has been about spreading interest in this interesting type of music. There were no means for early artists to make a career out of this music, and so the majority of the early scene was established primarily by hobbyists; people who did this sort of thing for fun. Since this scene was founded on the premise of having fun rather than making money it set a foundation that has carried on for years. The precedent this foundation set has carried on the principle, new artists entering the scene can see that those are already established in the scene are giving away their music for free and are actively working towards making chipmusic a community thing. Seeing that this is the way the scene works, new artists adopt these principles as their own.
One other possible contributor is that most of the materials involved in making chipmusic are free or very inexpensive. Most people have access to at least one old gameboy or NES, and most of the early software for making chipmusic was created by the musicians themselves and was given out freely. As it stands, most new chipmusic artists can get started for next to nothing.
All of these things helped to form chipmusic into the community that it is today. In this community you find the pros helping out those who are just starting, you see artists sharing tips amongst those who in any other context would have been their direct competition, and you see artists teaming up to use their music for the common good in compilations such as Chip In: Japan!.
The fans love it too of course, they get a lot of their music for free, but they also become willing to support their favourite artists through “pay what you want” releases. I’m certainly not saying that everyone needs to give out their music for free, what people do with their own music is their business, but what’s important here is that the precedent stay strong, that new artists can see that this isn’t a dog eat dog scene, but that it is a fostering community of artists helping each other to produce better music.
I’m Chris Penner, but I go by the alias Zef, and I encourage you to share this blog post around, and, if you’re an artist, to begin to share your own music for free too. To support this principle I’m releasing my new album Blackout (and all the source files) as a pay what you want download, grab it for free if you like, or donate a bit of cash which I’ll be lending through kiva.org, a wonderful organization that helps people in third-world countries get back on their feet; I highly recommend you check them out! In fact, I’ve made a chipmusic team for chipmusicians and fans alike to show the world how much they care; join up and start lending HERE. Just remember that the chipscene is about more than just music, it’s a community.