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Thinking

Music’s Mystique Mistake

One of the things I’ve been see­ing recent­ly are peo­ple say­ing that music has lost its mys­tique. I could­n’t agree more. There’s a great line in Guy Debor­d’s Soci­ety of the Spec­ta­cle that applies here I think; to para­phrase, the things that sep­a­rate celebri­ties from the rest of us are pow­er and vaca­tions. That was true for musi­cians, once upon a time, but now that the rock star is dead, how can we still be awestruck by musi­cians and the music they cre­ate?

Categories
Thinking

Music’s Demand Problem

I start­ed read­ing Michae­lan­ge­lo Matos’s Slow Lis­ten­ing Move­ment blog. I’ve seen vari­a­tions of the argu­ment for slow­ing down, like the slow food move­ment, as a means of chang­ing con­sump­tion habits, which in turn con­tribute to a dif­fer­ent way of liv­ing one’s life. It’s an inter­est­ing idea, but I think the notion of “slow lis­ten­ing” should some­how address the music indus­try’s instis­tence on treat­ing a prob­lem with demand as if it were a sup­ply-side prob­lem.

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Thinking

Why We Are Debating Free

The answer’s easy: it does­n’t work for music. Unless you were liv­ing under a rock on Fri­day, you prob­a­bly read Techcrunch’s post, “The Sor­ry State of Music Star­tups.” With­out going into great detail, Arring­ton’s com­plete­ly right, and for once, he does­n’t resort to the whole “music just wants to be free” argu­ment so com­mon among Web 2.0 types. Instead, he writes that “free stream­ing music” is about as sen­si­ble as try­ing to douse a burn­ing pile of mon­ey with a gal­lon of gaso­line.

With all due respect to Bruce Houghton at Hype­bot and Andrew Dub­ber at New Music Strate­gies, the dream is over. It’s time to wake up and smell the cof­fee.

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Thinking

Music 2.0’s Blue Sky Mines Collapsing

Blender’s print edi­tion is fin­ished. You prob­a­bly already know this if you spent any time on the Inter­net yes­ter­day, but it’s just anoth­er instance where a music mag com­plete­ly changes its appear­ance to remain “rel­e­vant” (what­ev­er that means now) and ends up clos­ing shop any­way. As Matos wrote on his blog, “It’s hot, it’s sexy, it’s dead,” which sounds like the sort of thing one might say about the pre­ma­ture death of a rock star.

Part of my music cru­sade has been to say how impact­ful events like this are for the music indus­try. There’s a great com­ment in the Idol­a­tor post on Blender’s clos­ing from the friend of an anony­mous flack who does­n’t know which out­lets will be left to pitch by year’s end. It’s that bad. That out­look, cou­pled with the indus­try’s retreat from pro­mo­tion in the name of rev­enue, viz. videos holed up on Youtube with no embed­ding priv­i­leges and the like, music will soon be hard­er to find than bin Laden!

Heck, even the thing peo­ple seem to enjoy most about music online is chang­ing. Last.fm announced this week that they’ll be chang­ing their stream­ing poli­cies in many parts of the world, set­ting off a tidal wave of out­rage. Pow­er­ful music search engine See­q­pod will begin charg­ing devel­op­ers for its data, too. Omi­nous nois­es are com­ing out of the Imeem camp, too, no mat­ter what they’re telling Michael Arring­ton at Techcrunch.

Those of us who fore­saw the end of Music 2.0 can only shake our heads. Chris Ander­son­’s “freemi­um” dream is over. The blue sky mines are col­laps­ing around our ears.

What’s ahead? No one knows. I’m talk­ing to my friend Jason Her­skowitz almost dai­ly about the future of music on the web, espe­cial­ly around music dis­cov­ery. He’s been work­ing on some cool stuff late­ly, most recent­ly Play­dar, an idea I urge you to check out. Nev­er­the­less, he fears that Dark­net will soon replace any­thing remote­ly legit­i­mate for con­tent shar­ing online. It’s a fright­en­ing propo­si­tion for rights hold­ers who have any inter­est in pro­tect­ing their prop­er­ties in this brave new world, and equal­ly scary for those of us who care about music as part of our cul­tur­al fab­ric.

Categories
Thinking

Pandora’s Box

Scott Ten­nent makes an emo­tion­al plea for music fans to ignore leaks over at  Pret­ty Goes with Pret­ty. We’ve all seen vari­a­tions of this argu­ment before. The MPAA even made spots that echoed this sen­ti­ment. It’s heart­felt, but hope­less. Count­less clich­es could be used to describe what’s hap­pened, but I’ll use this one: you can’t get the tooth­paste back into the tube.