Killing the Music

Don Henley of all people weighs in on the current state of the music industry in his Washington Post article Killing the Music (fake registration required). It's kinda just a big list of complaints, some of which being dopier than others. He brings up things like megacoporations being bad and Wal Mart not stocking a wide variety of music, and that Johnny Cash wouldn't get signed today and so on, which I think are all completely, boringly beside the point. The only things that matter about the future of the recording industry is the Internet and the lowering cost of recording technology.

Rather than whining about Wal Mart and megacorporations and piracy, why not point out that the Internet affords any musician starting out today the ability to be heard by millions of people without even having to put pants on? Wow! Johnny Cash might not get signed if he was starting out today, but he could easily get his own web hosting (I would happily loan him some if he was broke), post MP3s, sell albums, t-shirts, get his albums in CD Baby, get on iTunes and all these other digital download services, get signed to Magnatune, reach fans directly, tour and god only knows what else he could do to make money. And all of this outside the control of the record industry.

The root of the issue most troubling Mr. Henley I believe is that it's getting harder and harder to make millions and millions of dollars off of each album and new artist due to the Internet and the public's diversifying tastes (due to the Internet). That's why the record industry's not signing or developing much new talent, because they only want stuff that they know will definitely knock it out of the box. That's just the way the business is right now, no point getting your feelings all in a tussle about it. Industries don't care about your feelings unless it benefits them.

What irks me most about his article is that I think Don's only looking at the situation from the perspective of recording artists with mansions and regular fat royalty checks rolling in funding their glamorous lifestyles. Sure, they probably have reason to worry, as do the artists hoping to achieve that sort of arrangement for themselves. But new artists in my opinion are in better shape for making a comfortable living off their art than they've been in for a long, long time. And I think that's way more important to the future of music than keeping the rich elders afloat.