Several years ago I worked in the newspaper industry. In fact, I was working at the Miami Herald that day that changed our lives in the United States forever: September 11, 2001. Yes, the effects of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, and other targets were felt around the world. However, something else was happening that was gradually changing our lives for good. Technology, and specifically the internet, was moving to an important place to change the way we receive news. I saw it coming and spoke about the changes on the horizon, but not all of my colleagues shared my vision. Well, those changes came not only to the newspaper industry, but to every industry in the world. The music industry has not escaped the wave of technology, and in many ways has been forced to adapt. Along the way these changes have made possible introductions to many new artists, like our featured artist this week: Jasmine Thompson.
This is not the first time I’ve written about the influence of technology upon the music industry, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. Many write and speak negatively about the changes in recent years. I choose to highlight the positive effects from changes in the music industry in recent years.
Jasmine Thompson is a great example of the difference between today and years past. Jasmine Thompson is an English singer and songwriter born November 8, 2000. In years past it was not uncommon for a talented sixteen year old to be signed to a developmental contract with a record or production company. A few musical prodigies might start recording careers at that very young age. Today, an artist like Jasmine Thompson arrived three years ago and is working on a third studio album. She already has millions of fans worldwide. How did it happen?
Thompson began her career by filming herself singing on YouTube. Most folks know all about YouTube but readers of Weekly Music Commentary vary in age and residence. Therefore, I’ll give a basic description of YouTube.
YouTube is an American video-sharing website. The site allows users to upload, view, rate, share, add to favorites, report and comment on videos. Available content includes video clips, TV show clips, music videos, short and documentary films, audio recordings, movie trailers and other content such as video blogging, short original videos, and educational videos. Most of the content on YouTube has been uploaded by individuals, but media corporations including CBS, the BBC, Vevo, Hulu, and other organizations offer some of their material via YouTube, as part of the YouTube partnership program. Unregistered users can watch videos on the site, but registered users are permitted to upload an unlimited number of videos and add comments to videos. Videos deemed potentially offensive are available only to registered users affirming themselves to be at least 18 years old. In December 2016, the website was ranked as the second most popular site by Alexa Internet, a web traffic analysis company.
Like many other popular musicians today, Jasmine Thompson has used social media and technological advances to build her music career. She made herself an international star. Jasmine’s YouTube channel has over 2.36 million subscribers and over 350 million views. Those numbers are big, especially for artist with one release after signing with Atlantic Records. The point is Jasmine Thompson has built her fan base herself, with the aid of YouTube.
Today, it’s normal for the young artist to get started by posting videos on YouTube. In the 1980’s the music video became a necessity for the popular musician. The money needed to make a very good quality video pushed the integral part of the promotion process out of reach for the independent artist. Now, with technological advances, the young musician not only is able to create good quality videos, but also has the ability to broadcast and gain viewers. The playing field has been leveled.
Jasmine Thompson’s videos opened other revenue streams and opportunities. Her acoustic cover version of Chaka Khan’s original “Ain’t Nobody” reached number 32 on the UK Singles Chart; this success led to the song being featured in an advertisement by Sainsbury’s. The remixed version from Thompson was then remixed by DJ Felix Jaehn in 2015 and became a huge hit, peaking at number 2 in the UK, and charting in several other countries.
While writing this post I had to put into perspective what Jasmine Thompson accomplished. My thoughts went back to my days as a sixteen year old. I guess my life was not too different from others my age. Enrolled in high school, with anticipation of the future and trying to find my place in society, just like the typical teenager. Music was a large part of my life at the time. I wondered if I was surrounded by the tools of today, what would happen with some of my own musical ideas? Would I be able to parlay those ideas into a very early music career? I’m not sure.
What is the next step for Jasmine Thompson? Well, I listened to her EP Adore and realized her music is very appealing. Most are amazed that Thompson is only sixteen. Upon hearing her sing most are surprised by her voice that is mature; long beyond that of other sixteen year old artists. There’s nothing wrong with that, it just presents music fans with another option. Fact: Jasmine Thompson has arrived upon the music scene with fans worldwide. I think there definitely will be more music. Will her fan base grow? That’s what is unknown. I feel that artists in her group are just one hit away from major stardom.
If you have not heard Jasmine Thompson sing, listen to her new EP or check out some of her videos on YouTube. Enjoy!
photo by Dante Marshall