If I hear another mid-level marketing professional claim expertise in “the future of the music industry”, I am going to have a fit. Then again, if I were selling colored pasta, I would definitely go to every conference and talk about how colored pasta is the future.
Here is a brief, cursory overview of the “past of music industry” that, I believe, sheds light on how limited and, let me say this out loud, masturbatory, those conversations about the future are.
1877. Thomas Edison invents the phonograph. He figures that a good way to create a demand for his devices is music records. He doesn’t credit performing artists on his records because he thinks it’s not about them but about his technology.
Initially, there are three big manufactures of their proprietary record-playing devices. Each manufacturer has a “record label”. They use music as a fishing hook to catch customers since music is a nice reason for consumers to buy their stuff.
Then radio becomes a thing. People who sell radios start competing with people who sell record players, both use music as an incentive to sell their devices. Eventually, two broadcasting companies (i.e., people who sell radios) buy two leading manufacturers of record players, while Thomas Edison goes out of business.
Radio people also figure out how to make money on ads while attracting listeners with music.
In the meanwhile, vinyl becomes a thing. People who sell vinyl start competing with people who sell radios. Then tape recording devices, then CDs and CD playing devices, then Apple, then developers of torrent technologies, then streaming companies. Seems like throughout recent history, every single technology used music simply to sell their shit. To every single one of them, artists are a “resource”. Bigger artists are a more expensive resource. Artists with less clout are a faceless mass.
Spotify. #thatsongwhen campaign. Awwwww. Bullshit! They try to leech on the idea of freedom and fuzzy feelings, too, while they have absolutely nothing to do with generating it. They are a DEVICE. A MACHINE. A ROBOT.
(I am not touching publishing and other income streams here because it would take me another day to type. But seriously.)
Reason I am taking the time to state the obvious?
For one, I believe that the world is not in its best state, and it can be made better, and secondly, I believe that in order to fix any problem, one needs to get to the bottom of it and address the way things are talked about. Anything can be justified with words: abuse, environmental pollution, disrespect, genocide, dehumanization. Masters of the words are masters of the business models. It’s been done since the dawn of mankind, and the only way to resist verbal predators is to not budge.
Bad language creates fog. Stating the obvious in simple language removes fog, it’s as simple as that.
The naked emperor is not very strong.
Photo credit: By Levin C. Handy (per http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cwpbh.04326) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons