Music Is Not Bought – It is Shared!
I had this brilliant revelation this morning after writing the last blog – a bit of wandering down memory lane and commenting on how Halo, a first person shooter video has stolen the imagination of kids today and convinced them they need to cough up, so far, more than $170 Million. The theme in that last blog was that we do not see such happenings in the music biz anymore.
Nope, what we have in music today is a lack of biz. We have p2p, music being shared. We having Apple trying to lock the music down that is sold on iTunes. God knows how many pieces of downloadable software are out there to crack those various locks and security features. So in one sense music is not forgotten. Not at all, it is just not in the public eye. It is just not in the market square. The CD store is gone. MTV is gone. Today music is between a person and his or her iPod.
But here is the twist, despite the isolation of the listening experience-it is shared. Lets stick with the isolation for a moment. Music today is all to often listened to with a set of headphones or earplugs on or for myself in a car by myself. Either way it is an inward ‘looking’ listening experience-the person is largely tuned out of the world. Yet if we look to prior to the listening experience, that same music was downloaded from someplace, and all too commonly it was not purchased, it was shared.
Normally, I would say Eureka to the fact that music is ‘shared’. That is what music is all about. Music is still the best way to unite a group of people. With all our technology, a simple guitar or more important a human voice can unite a group, a team, a squad, a crowd, an audience. No doubt amplification and technology are there, but it still comes down to that voice and some accompaniment. So music still reaches us and has its effect. And no doubt culturally it is still there. Just that as a culture we do not listen anymore together. As a culture we listen in our heads on our way to work or school, or while we work out.
So we have this weirdly structured music experience. Music is shared as far as how we get it, but music is experienced in isolation-alone. The audience today usually consist of one. Granted there is that rare live performance or at the very least, where we play one of our MP3s on a computer ever so briefly-encouraging a friend to check this or that tune out. In the end, music today is experienced via an iPod or a CD in the car-thru a massive number of audiences of one. That is how we share music today.
And we ain’t done twisting just yet! we have all these audiences of one, which just miss out on a good chunk of the ‘communal experience’ that music is known for – that ‘Dionysian revelry’, call it what you will. The little bit of the shared experience we have left is really not a sharing at all. It is a sharing at the cost of the artist, the creator.
Go back to the old school sharing of music. You had an artist performing on a stage, and for an audience. They-the audience most likely paid the price of a ticket or if it was a free show n a public park, the town or city compensated the artist. Audiences of one lost that shared experience and the if you are sharing to get there, then the artist is not getting much of anything for his or her performance. I know, getting paid for that performance is not communal, but it takes time to create. At the end of the day I would hope that no one disagrees that an artist is entitled to something for the work and effort it took to create what we witnessed and shared.
My point here is not in regard to compensation for music and artists. My point here is just that we have a very warped idea of what it is to share music today.