Wednesday, June 20, 2012

on how we consume music today

there's suddenly a lot of swirl in the interwebs about illegal downloads. here in denmark, the government has just proposed the very daring step of "dialogue" about it, rather than laws and punishments (quite an odd move for them, as they like to legislate the hell out of everything). they're taking a hit in the press for that. but i also just read this, a response to a young intern from NPR's all songs considered that recently admitted on the NPR blog that she had 11,000 songs in her library but had only ever bought 15 CDs in her life (this is not to say that most of those songs were illegal downloads, she goes on to say).

as someone who has plugged my iPod into someone else's iTunes library and downloaded to my heart's content as well as ripping CDs from the library into my iTunes library, i'm not really one to talk, but i have to say that i find the debate to be quite a lot of whining all around - from both musicians and record companies. while i'm in favor of people being paid for their creativity, what's needed is a radical rethink of the way we consume music. apple has, in many ways, already done that for us, as we've got the devices and despite all of the frustrations and misgivings i have about iTunes, they have actually made it quite easy for us to legally obtain the song we want, at the moment we want it.

i know that the iPod has radically changed my own CD-buying habits. i used to buy 1-2 CDs every week - up until about 2006. now i can't remember the last time i bought one. and i'm sure that both musicians and record companies are legitimately feeling the pinch, as i'm not unique. and perhaps there's a bit of darwinism at play here as well - survival of the fittest. the trichordist piece says that there at 25% fewer professional musicians than there were in 2000. i'm not convinced this is a bad thing and when i listen to the radio, i find myself wishing the number were even higher, as there's still a whole lot of bad music (especially pop music) being made.

i actually think the danish government might not be so far off in their challenge to dialogue - what's needed is a conversation around this topic that results in seriously rethinking the way musicians provide music and the way we consume it. and when they have the conversation, they need to talk to children, because the way they're already consuming music points to the future. despite having iMac, iPad and iPhone, sabin doesn't ask to buy music. she listens on spotify (premium is part of our mobile phone package) or she finds the music she wants to hear on youtube and plays it on her computer in the background while she edits a video or builds a SIMS family.

services like spotify are changing the game and complaints that their payment model isn't good for artists sound like a whole lot of whining to me. my inner capitalist says that the prices will land on what the market will bear - so if musicians want different prices, they'd better change their tune. or come up with a viable alternative. i seriously don't believe that all these creative people can't come up with a creative solution.


Lost Star said...

This is really interesting! The music industry is definitely changing!

With regards to musicians attitudes changing, may I suggest you take a look at what is happening on Kickstarter in terms of music!

I'm off to see Amanda Palmer today, a musician who broke from her label a few years ago, and last month, raised over a million dollars to produce an album and tour the world with it! Funded by the people who want to hear the album. I paid her $25 (and would have given more if I wasn't unemployed) for a hard copy of the album, but a dollar would get you the entire album as a download. She also regularly releases her music for free, or on a 'pay as much as you want' method!

Her kickstarter link is:

(Well worth watching the video!)

Huff post article:

I think this is the future of music, not big record companies producing the same drivel over and over again!

Anyway, I thought you might like to know that the ball game is already changing! :D

julochka said...

lizzi, I had heard of amanda palmer's kicks tarter efforts. interesting and perhaps telling that none of these articles are talking about that. the trichordist is so entrenched in an old way of thinking that he can't see that it requires more than some kind of quasi-christian appeal to ethics.

Spilling Ink said...

Amen to that!

Suecae Sounds said...

Dialouge will be the thing. We also need to recognize that not everybody will be able to pull something of like Palmer. Personally I hope the era of the superstar will be over soon, replaced by a lot of different, less commercial alternatives being created for the love of music. (yeah right...) In some aspects we are already there, but the radio/tv has not caught on. Not at all.

Suecae Sounds said...

And I do think Spotify is problematic for artists. As were the wold before the Internet, for different reasons. The thing is that with such services as Spotify strangely enough the artists are in a weaker negotion position compared to labels pushing their dying business model into the digital world. Better sollutions will be needed. Crowdfunding is at least one exiting idea, in that regard.