August 01, 2005

In the Music Like Water World Flows the True Artist

Gerd Leonhard, self-proclaimed Musical Futurist writes an article getting a lot of attention at NewMusicBox. In it he examines the implications of a world where music is so commoditized, through online subscription services, such as Yahoo and the new Napster, that music has become a utility, like water.

From the article, Once music is unleashed and the dinosaurial fight for the simple privilege of having access to it is over for good, distribution ceases to be a barrier to entry: all music, all artists, and all writers will be in those pipeline... ...the real challenge and the real opportunity going forward: getting exposure and being discovered—the rest is already built into the pipeline.

What Gerd misses out on, is the fact that this is a great thing, because, it levels the playing field. In this type of world, the cream rises to the top, not the merely over-promoted and well-connected. Music that matters will be noticed because it is listened to.

Other writers including Pliable at On an Overgrown Path fears for the artists. His blog haiku:

Water from faucets
sounds like a listener's dream -
will hurt true artists

Hurt true artists? Huh? The majority of true artists now are fighting to get through the ear canal. They're not the ones on the radio, getting recorded. They're the artists that are not getting promoted in record stores, getting performed in concert halls. They're the ones that didn't spend the money to hire an agent like so many composers, didn't spend the money to hire an orchestra and record their own music while pretending its a real record company recording and promoting their music.

The Music Like Water flow will be huge, it will be meritocratic and it will create giant new opportunities for curators, critics, musician-networks. The main problem in getting paid, which is what everybody always focusses on, in this world is the over-abundance of musicians, not the collapse of the inherent assumptions about music distribution. This glut of artistry is one of the real problems and its a good problem. We need competition, to make better music. We need to hear everybody so that for once, the Nancarrow's don't have to almost die in obscurity.

The big question, is will we be up to building the future curatorial forums? I see the music blog as a prime contendor and the reblogging movement, re-mixing aggregated micro-content into forms that will promote more better variety and more better personalization.

Posted by jeff at August 1, 2005 01:53 PM | TrackBack