Is the music industry broken?

Posted: April 5, 2011 in Ramblings
Tags: , ,

Some popular musicians have quite strong views on the current state of the music industry: iTunes and YouTube killing some aspects of music.

R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe believes that YouTube is the new revolution of the music ‘video.’

The time of music video is gone, it’s passed, as far as I’m concerned. Not for Rihanna, not for Lady Gaga, who I love, or Kanye West, who I love. They write pop songs and they do these pop videos that are seen by millions of people online, but now we have online as our go-to medium, and how do we address that in the 21st century? What I was trying to do was, I’m not—as much as I love Gaga and Kanye West—I’m not going to try to compete with them, we’re not that type of band, we don’t make that kind of music. I’m not interested in doing the $2 million music video. What I’m interested in is creating interest from an arts community, from a film community, from a music community, from people who are just interested culturally in: how can you approach a dilemma, which is that from my generation and perhaps the generation below me, your 9-year-old daughter would not know what an album is. It’s a concept from the ’70s (source)

And perhaps a more interesting perspective is that of Bon Jovi, who says Steve Jobs ‘killed music.’

"Kids today have missed the whole experience of putting the headphones on, turning it up to 10, holding the jacket, closing their eyes and getting lost in an album; and the beauty of taking your allowance money and making a decision based on the jacket, not knowing what the record sounded like, and looking at a couple of still pictures and imagining it.

"God, it was a magical, magical time. I hate to sound like an old man now, but I am, and you mark my words, in a generation from now people are going to say: ‘What happened?’ Steve Jobs is personally responsible for killing the music business." (source)

I don’t exactly disagree with Bon Jovi, as the experience/concept of an album or mixtape is nearly extinct. And a ‘compact disc’ will vanish soon too, primarily because of the .mp3. To say that Jobs killed it is extreme, but he did facilitate its death.

Music is now a singles industry, and artistry has greatly suffered…and…it has made it possible for independent musicians to be heard. It seems that the disparity between artistry/independently good music and commercialized one-offs is greatly increasing and the middle class of music is a rocky land.

However, I would just say that technology as a whole is responsible. Advances in technology, mechanization, are the direct opposite of independent/free form artistry. But like the photograph and those that have become greats in the era of photoshop and digital photography, artists will be forced to either play with the medium or consumers will need to wise up for music to keep its essence.


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