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A Musician's Journey: From Radio to Web3 by Alpha23

Written By Alpha23 For ADAM 4 Artists


Unless you’re living under a rock, willfully ignorant or just too busy making ends meet by driving Uber, DoorDash, InstaCart and Lyft (inflation is real out here); by now you have probably heard of the blockchain. In fact, terms like crypto, Web 3.0, MetaVerse and NFT are almost a commonality at this point in the human technology cycle. But how did we get here? Or maybe a better question is, WHY did we get here? And exactly WHAT does all this mean?

As the creator of audio & visual content - operating under the pseudonym Alpha23 - and founder/CEO of a entertainment marketing firm, ADAM 4 Artists; examination of these factors seemed like a necessary step and a great way to introduce a new content focused publication to the world. So with that said, let’s dive in…

Web 0.0 (1920 - 1988) Let’s Just Say Options Were Limited :(

For what seemed like an eternity, “modern” humans had consumed content in almost the same exact ways. For entertainment, the options were musicals, plays and events held live in-person. For in-home entertainment, consumption was achieved via information delivered through books. Stored data was a nonexistent concept. It was an analog world.

When Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi first developed the idea of radio in 1890, he laid the groundwork for what would eventually evolve into modern radio. This evolution reached maturity almost exactly 100 years ago, during the early 1920’s, when public radio broadcasting started in the United States. During this period, families would gather in their living rooms and listen to news and entertainment content with, at most, 2 or 3 “channel” options. By 1931 radio had reached mass adoption, and a majority of US households owned at least one receiver. Little did anyone know; however, that radio’s singular dominance was set to take a major hit due to the handiwork of a 21 year old US farm boy named Philo Farnsworth.

On September 7th, 1927 the first television was successfully demonstrated. It would be over a decade later, on April 30th 1939, that the worlds first public telecast would go live, during which US President, Franklin D. Roosevelt opened the New York World's Fair with a public broadcast. The event was transmitted to US households courtesy of the aptly named NBC aka National Broadcasting Company. Understandably; however, due to cost constraints and limited availability of this groundbreaking new technology, television would go several decades before becoming a mass market household device. But by the 1950s, television was a popular fixture in many US homes.

Web 1.0 (1989 - 2004) I Chat, You Chat, We Chat Together :)

It wasn’t until the introduction of the modem and a radical new way of transmitting data, by converting a digital format into a format suitable for an analog transmission medium, such as telephone or radio, that traditional TV and radio’s vice grip on content consumption was suddenly challenged. Suddenly another device had the power to “own” the eyes, ears and minds of consumers everywhere; this weapon of mass distraction was the personal computer. It was time to introduce humanity to the internet, and the mind controlling power of pet memes.

During the five year period universally referred to as Web 1.0, companies like NetScape, America Online (AOL) and MySpace were born and rose to dominance. The key technical factors that defined and drove Web 1.0 were:

  1. Static pages.

  2. Content was served from the server’s file system.

  3. Pages built using Server Side Includes or Common Gateway Interface (CGI).

  4. Frames and Tables were used to position and align the elements on a page.

Suddenly chat rooms and electronic mail was a “thing”. The days of picking up a newspaper to search the classified ads for a new car, or owning volumes of Encyclopedia Brittanica’s to learn about African tribal customs, was coming to an end.

What hadn’t changed much; however, was, like during the golden era of TV & radio, the end user was still little more than a consumer of content, and content creators had to depend on highly centralized and gated means of distribution. During this period, “old school” radio still dominated the music discovery business, and the mass selling of music was still handled via record stores, much as it had been for decades prior. Record labels and media conglomerates reigned supreme; maintaining complete control of the manufacturing, marketing and distribution of music and video content.

Historically, for musicians, the only way across this media moat was to submit recorded demonstrations of their musical talent to gatekeepers, known as Artists and Repertoire (A&Rs). These demo tapes, although often professionally recorded, served only one purpose; discovery by record labels for the purpose of shilling out the ultra elusive “record deal”.

Web 2.0 (2005 - Present) Was it a WWW or a LLL?

If the internet revolution and Web 1.0 is credited as starting around 1989, then 2005 is generally considered the starting point for Web 2.0. However as musicians, it’s important to step back and identify a few key events, driven by the internet, that laid the groundwork for the massive changes, logistically, that were soon to come.

  1. On June 1st, 1999 Napster launched.

  2. October 23, 2001 the first iPods were sold.