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Foreigner Talk About the Challenges of the Music Industry’s Digital Revolution

Slaven Vlasic

Foreigner has survived and thrived through decades of changes in the music industry, so it’s no surprise to see them not just take the digital revolution in stride, but to actually use it to their advantage.

A couple of months ago, the group was awarded with gold and platinum awards for the impressive digital sales milestones reached by classic songs such as ‘Cold as Ice,’ ‘Juke Box Hero’ and ‘I Want to Know What Love Is.’ Shortly after, we had the chance to talk to lead singer Kelly Hansen and bassist Jeff Pilson about how the world is different now that fans are more likely to download singles than unwrap albums, and what it’s like when people hear your music on television shows instead of on the radio.

“For me, I see it as kind of a double-edged sword,” Hansen explains. “If you’re familiar with having albums and that experience back in the day, part of that is disappointing today because you don’t have that part of [the] experience. On the other hand, I think that in many ways there’s a large exposure for the band to areas and people that they maybe wouldn’t have gotten exposure to in the past. Because of social media and all that, you can reach entirely different demographics than might have been on your radar before. Plus, we’ve been on things like ‘American Idol’ and ‘Glee’ and we’ve been in some movies. With all those outlets, there’s a lot of people who wouldn’t have seen the band before, younger people in particular, who we see a lot more at shows, who get exposed to the band and seem to really latch onto the music very quickly. They know the words better than we do!”

“Ironically enough, we’re the one genre that still does tend to sell CDs,” adds Pilson. “So even though the music business has radically changed, and even though Foreigner doesn’t sell the amount of CDs that they did 30 years ago, we do sell CDs, and there are still people who buy them. For instance, like the commemorative CD (‘The Soundtrack of Summer’) that’s going to go along with this tour…”

“Plus I have to mention,” Hansen interjects, “Foreigner has multiple singles that have reached gold and platinum status digitally. ‘Juke Box Hero’ is way up there, one of the biggest. It feels great. It means that the work that we’re doing is making a difference — the travel and the playing and the slogging it out. When sometimes you get really tired, it makes you say to yourself that people are getting it, they are hearing it and they’re responding and that’s very satisfying.”

Next: Foreigner's Most Underrated Songs

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