Thursday, June 14, 2007

If It Ain't Broke

Thank you, Alice, for derailing my post on the great, lamented Gerard Grisey, and dragging me into this uncomfortable file-sharing debate.
Thing is, I'm much more interested in music than business, and I'm wondering if anyone else reading that litany from Downhill Battle in Alice's post was thinking: "Is the music industry really in such bad shape?"

With all due respect to the shittiness of Avril Lavigne and Maroon 5, isn't this sort of a great time to be into music? I'll have to defer to the historians here, but has there ever been a time in, say, the last half-century, when so much good music has been so widely available? When so many good musicians have been recording for major labels (Exhibit A, B, C, D, E, F)? Or so many good indie bands have captured so much popular attention, critical acclaim - or hell, even money?

In all fairness, I do not know how most Americans learn about or acquire music, and it may be that payola, draconian copyright laws, and, er, the 400 people targeted by RIAA is hindering what could be an even larger, cooler scene. But for now, I think I'll save my outrage for bigger fish.

(Also, for those of you who do take this stuff seriously, what does it mean to "boycott" the majors? Are you the badass who will turn down the new Radiohead when it arrives if it's got the Capitol imprimatur? Are you purchasing legally from indies? Are you getting involved politically? Or do you just feel a little more righteous, or a little less guilty as you do whatever the hell you want?)


alice said...

ah. some good points, but i'm still not buying it. do you think the recent upsurge in diversity and popularity of the little guys has nothing to do with the music available on the internet? the average music listener today can discover a (pretty much) infinite number of bands every day, just by sitting in front of soulseek. if you're downloading music, there isn't anything stopping you from trying out new things that you'd never think to buy. well, except maybe the law.

and, as to indie music being popular that, by definition, has nothing to do with major labels, as it's music made independent of them.

so, yes, people should still buy from independent labels until something else is sorted out. and, yes, people can still get the new radiohead albums (for free! before the release date! in lossless format!). you could maybe argue that as long as people are downloading, they won't be conscientious in the downloading habits and will steal from independent labels as well. i admit to being one of those people, and i'd like a solution to ease my guilt (see the $5/month plan. actually, i think $10 might be more fair).

One point that still hasn't been addressed by either of us is, without record labels (big and small), who is going to front the money for promotion and studio time?

Emma said...

It's Lavigne. Not Levine.

alice said...


Karen said...

I am certainly struck by how much someone like Alice--who is not, I gather (correctly?) interested in a music career--by how much she KNOWS about it. (Excuse awkward construction.) I love and loved to read, but as I remember, literature was never as big a part of my world as music seems to be of hers.