It was a warm spring day around 1971 and I was somewhere near Bridge Street, walking home from school with my AM transistor radio (think it had 5 of them and I was proud of that fact) when it came on the radio. It was Don Mclean’s “American Pie” singing “the day the music died”. Well it’s been many years since I’ve slipped a monophonic ear piece into my ear however the song is still a favorite to this day and hearing it again, it started me thinking.
There was the day when you bought vinyl, then it was various forms of magnetic tapes (4 tracks, 8 Tracks, cassettes), then came the plastic disks [CDs] and now? It’s simply electrons streamed over the Internet onto various devices as the data truly “wants to be set free”. However what happens to the sociological effluence which a paradigm shift like this, as like the song says, is the music (industry) really dead?
Notice the caveat of industry and not music itself, as “music” itself will never die as it’s a primordial piece of the human psyche and so long a man can hold a rhythm, there will be the sound of music. However the same may not be so true for those moguls which once prospered from the sweat of some musician brow.
However came the formation of Napster which was the liberation call for music to be free and did more than just allow the pirating of a custom crafted stream of electrons. It showed that people would embrace the digital alternative to the disc, it was ok not to posses the audio art work as a physical package, but as an “intangible”. However what did the music companies do? That’s right; they recoiled in fear rather than embrace a potentially huge opportunity. They sued, kids and moms, brothers and sisters for hundreds of thousands of dollars for dipping in the forbid well.
What did they get for their efforts you ask, well it wasn’t more sales and in fact it was like when major league baseball players went on strike and killed the game. As it’s hard to feel sorry for someone you perceive to have so much more then you complaining about wanting more. So instead of taking the lemons they were handed and making lemonade, they just turned them into sour grapes and everyone walked away with a sour-puss over the thing if you will.
Today music is different; it’s more open as more people are producing good quality enjoyable music as its moved from the few to the many. However this is eroding the effluence of the economic system? Look at the supply chain that is now no more, no record store as that is now a thing of the found past (the video store is quickly following) along with all of the folks who supported the industry (factory workers, truck drivers, office workers, etc). Where have they gone, their parents basement to avoid the light of day to prevent their vinyl albums from warping?
Then there is the question “where will the money be made”? Mark my words we will see the age of the “venue” will arise, be it in a concert hall or your car. Music will no longer be “stand alone” as in the terms of the past, it will be bundled with other “objects” with it’s costs built into venue. In as cars will come bundled with music (audio entrainment in general), the same for public transportation, as the ticket will not only buy you ride, it will also buy you a connections. The list goes on and on for the embed concept of art and entertainment within a “venue”. What are some of your ideas?