I Demand a Column: Tyler Starts to Recreate the Music Industry at the VMA’s

By: Danny Sedlezak

Or: What Tyler, the Creator’s VMA win means for Music

The VMA’s are not usually that enthralling. Besides the infamous Kanye West incident of 2009 and the Britney-Madonna kiss, nothing of particular interest has occurred in recent memory at the VMA’s. No groundbreaking award winners, no jaw dropping performances, just the obvious choice winning the obvious award.  It’s the snooze-fest award show that provides a somewhat accurate prediction of the Grammy’s.
That all changed this year, as independent artist Tyler, The Creator took away the second biggest award of the night for his music video of Yonkers. But wait, you say, independent artists have won before, so what’s all the commotion about? Well, Tyler has no steady record deal, and all of his hype was on the internet.
Every other video that was nominated had major radio play (Gucci Gucci, Black and Yellow, My Last, and Pumped up Kicks) and their videos had as much MTV play as possible (in this day and age). Tyler cursed nine times in 16 lines over one of the most un-radio friendly beats to get popular in recent memory. To no one’s surprise, he received no play on the airwaves.  The only place you could watch his video for Yonkers was on his YouTube channel. That in itself should amaze you, then you factor in the other obstacles and untraditional means of getting his award (nearly all self promotion, frequent self leaking, no features from already famous artists) and the gravity of this award is realized.
Could that have happened ten, heck, even five years ago? No way. The Internet has forever changed the way we listen to and distribute music. In the past, you needed major MTV and radio play and major hype through mainstream publications, none of which Tyler had.  In the strange iTunes era where no one in the traditional record industry is sure how to sell albums (and sometimes, even singles) anymore, young independent artists can blow up just by using the internet correctly.
What does this mean for the future? Who knows? We could see the disintegration of the record industry as we know it in our lifetime. Perhaps the government will crack down on pirating, and iTunes will begin to focus more and more on album sales. Some days it feels like the former, some days the latter.