UK Music Critic: This Is The Golden Age For Music
from the you-can-listen-to-whatever-you-want dept
Last weekend, by contrast, I had a long chat about music with the 16-year-old son of a friend, and my mind boggled.He notes that smarter musicians are realizing they can't just offer up "filler" material any more, but need to focus on music that's actually good, and that the industry itself needs to change:
At virtually no cost, in precious little time and with zero embarrassment, he had become an expert on all kinds of artists, from English singer-songwriters like Nick Drake and John Martyn to such American indie-rock titans as Pavement and Dinosaur Jr.
Though only a sixth-former, he seemingly knew as much about most of these people as any music writer.
Like any rock-oriented youth, his appetite for music is endless, and so is the opportunity - whether illegally or not - to indulge it. He is a paid-up fan of bands it took me until I was 30 to even discover - and at this rate, by the time he hits his 20s, he'll have reached the true musical outer limits.
What does all this tell us? Clearly, for anyone raised in the old world, the modern way of music consumption has all kinds of unforeseen benefits.
So, yes, the record industry may yet have to comprehensively reinvent itself, or implode. Sooner or later, given that the need to read reviews before deciding what to listen to is fading fast, I rather fear that even music journalists may be rendered irrelevant.The one area where I disagree with Harris, is that he seems to think that this will push some artists to focus on creating more "hits" rather than more thoughtful music that "grows" on people. I'm not so sure of that (and I haven't seen it in the niche areas of music that I follow). Instead, because communities build up around certain artists or music genres, the community actually does a good job promoting the music and giving it life, rather than relying on it being a massive "hit."
But for now, this is a truly golden age - the era of the teenage expert, albums that will soon have to be full of finely-honed hits and the completely infinite online jukebox.
Even if the music business manages to somehow crack down on illicit downloading and claws back a few quid via annual subscriptions in return for that self-same endless supply of music, the same essential rules will apply. Really: what's not to like?
We've said it before, and it should be said again: nearly everything about the music industry today is better. More music is being made than ever before. More people are making music than ever before. More people are listening to new music than ever before. More musicians are making money from music than ever before. Even more musical instruments are being sold than ever before. The only thing suffering is the sale of plastic discs (though, the sales of iPods are doing quite well). The problem isn't the music industry. The problem is with a certain small group of businesses who built their business on the concept of selling plastic discs.