The Decentralization of the Music Industry
For the last few years I’ve been wondering about the Internet’s impact on the music industry, specifically what will happen to cash-cow national acts when the Internet empowers more independent and regional artists. If more people are using MySpace and iTunes to check out music based on word of mouth and their own ears, rather than the tastemaking churn of radio/MTV/magazines, then those tastemakers will be at a loss for words. How can they generate a buzz nationally about the latest hip new band when they can’t get everyone to listen to it?
As the first potential proof for this suspicion, I give you this terrifically lost and confused MTV roundtable discussion on SXSW at MTV.com. All the writers involved seem genuinely saddened at the lack of any individual “It Band” at SXSW.
Plink, plink…do you hear that? That’s the sound of the world’s tiniest violin. Cry me a f*cking river, MTV.
Here’s hoping that 2007 gave us a bellwether SXSW and the days of the “It Band” are numbered. Maybe music fans will start listening to what they like because it’s what they like, not because some pretentious weasel at MTV or Spin or Clear Channel decided to orchestrate a “buzz” campaign.
By far the best comment was from writer James Montgomery:
“I’m struck by how all these points we’re making about the festival are also completely interchangeable for the music industry. I was struck by how it’s like a microcosm of all the problems the industry is facing now: It’s too big, there’s too much to see out there, you have no idea what’s going to be big, it’s too splintered, there are too many ways of consuming music.”
Buddy, if too much music is your idea of a problem, start looking for a new career. The music scene should be big and splintered and not easily digestible. This will make it easier to weed out the generic bands that the industry chooses to foist upon us. I guess it might be difficult for casual listeners to choose, but I’m sure they’ll be OK with whatever comes their way. Lord knows they are entirely too contented with the crap they’re listening to now.