The labels are history, so say the blogs. Music is more popular than ever, so say the metrics. But, with the right to “share” dominating the debate are we asking the wrong questions about what this really means for music’s place in our culture?
When I was in college people were proud of their LP collections. LPs were works of art in-and-of-themselves. Artists took advantage of the 12″ canvas to extend their vision and fans also found practical uses for the jackets: shelf liners, wallpaper and of course, cleaning weed. The point is (or was) that the tactile relationship to the LP itself had a bonding effect to the music and bolstered its social significance.
This was the industry that many music executives battling front lines in the RIAA/ISP war today fell in love with; one that was about affecting culture in a positive way with a tangible product.
These days, record collections exist on a flash drive. You can’t really clean pot on a flash drive. And that is the vortex of the dwindling public respect for music.
MP3 PLAYER HATERS
Certain tech companies (and yes, unfortunately I think we do have to include Apple) are pushing this downgrade in status because it suits the selling of “freemium” Internet-based services or mobile devices. To them pop music is a lure, the free toy at the bottom of their cereal box. They think labels should forget about selling the steak and instead sell the sizzle. (Although when pressed for a clear answer on what the “sizzle” is techies start ranting about consumer’s rights.)
Fire all the lazy support staff at labels, cut back on releases, reduce advances, reduce budgets and sell a file of ones and zeros in a cheap, easy to share format, say the technocrats.
They call this “progress.”
For those who have been in the music business since the 1980s this is a tough pill to swallow. Many were attracted to the relatively low-pay and long-hours for reasons that may no longer be relevant. Some have become curmudgeons, bitching about the good-old-days. Some of them blog too often. Some not enough.
Is it possible that music is ready to take its place with other art-forms that have become the tapestry of life’s aesthetic: like Rembrandt postage stamps or Picasso bathroom-mats? I have no doubt that there was a fine-art connoisseur who ranted the first time he saw Sistine Chapel bathroom tile. No one listened. Commerce marched on.
Keep reading this article on mosesavalon.com.
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