As far as I’m concerned, there are a few things that once were staples of our society and are now conceptually obsolete (whether they are pragmatically is a different matter).
Music piracy and the music industry have been hot topics in the past ten years, but oddly, no real solutions have been reached. In my opinion, that’s because there never was an argument: technology makes things free and easy – music has been set free. It never was a core physical human need like food or shelter, nor a product, nor a service. Music has never existed on a practical plane. It sits on a cloud above the heads of human animals with science, literature, and all forms of art (in other words, all the best milk our beautiful brain-nipples produce). Capitalism only played well with Art before that sexy home-wrecker Technology came along and made everything free.
By the way, I think even more indispensable to the explosion of piracy is the ease of it’s perpetration. It’s not necessarily that it’s free, but it’s just so much easier to start a torrent download than to put in a bunch of debit card numbers on a website, or go to a store, or deal with iTunes and DRM issues or whatever. I would bet that things would be much different if we had something like the following (and I’m not saying this is a perfect idea, but hypothetically for a minute): what if there was a mandatory tax at the beginning of the year, where everyone had to put 400 bucks into a paypal-like Arts And Sciences account, that was super-easy to use to download new music or movies or fundraising opportunities or whatever. I think people WANT to support the artists/projects they like, but their laziness gets the better of them. I know, at least, that’s what happens with me….
There are a billion asshats out there who are making worthless (to anyone but themselves) music on Garage Band or Pro Tools or whatever. I’m not being mean. It’s great. Sort of.
So anyway, here is my point. With the spread of technology, music has been set free. That’s it. Get over it. It’s discouraging, but then again, I had a very encouraging thought…..
How easy and ubiquitous has paint on canvas been for hundreds of years? Anyone can make a painting. But how many great artists have we had? Many brilliant artists, but probably only the top 1% or less who have ever put brush to canvas. There’s still a blank canvas out there. You can still be great at something. It still matters if you’re great at something. I, for one, plan on making three records this year that have never been made, and are better, more fun, more insane, and more unique and touching than any collection of notes and rhythms out there.