Is the music industry about to die?

8/6/2010:

Point / Counterpoint – Music industry dead or alive?

I noticed an interesting set of stories come out within a month of each other earlier this summer. Funny how two successful musicians have completely differing outlooks about the internet and music industry.

Back in June, Radiohead lead singer Thom Yorke, who’s band completely cut the cord from the record labels with their last album In Rainbows (awesome, btw) back in 2007, said the music industry is on the brink of collapse, and warned new musicians to resist signing contracts with record labels because they’ll “completely fold” with months.

He said, “It will be only a matter of time – months rather than years – before the music business establishment completely folds. (It will be) no great loss to the world.”

Apparently, the band made more money selling their last album on their own (and told fans they could “pay what they want” for the digital recording) than they ever did with the fat-cat recording companies.

However, a month later, Rock Superstar Prince – who’s completely cutting the cord from the digital music format (and even shut down his own website) – said something that’s practically insane: “The internet is completely over. I don’t see why I should give my new music to iTunes or anyone else. They won’t pay me in advance for it and then they get angry when they can’t get it.”

He added that, “The internet’s like MTV. At one time MTV was hip and suddenly it became outdated.”

However, Prince did say something that had some echos of truth to it: “All these computers and digital gadgets are no good. They just fill your head with numbers and that can’t be good for you.”

He may have a point. While the “computers & gadgets” are definitely cool, most often useful, and a true sign of human innovation and evolution – I’ve been reminiscing about simpler days. The world is a very complicated place, and it seems that we have so much information, coming at us at such breakneck speed, that us “connected” humans seem to have less time to truly think about life, smell the roses and not worry what is going on around us (or in our digital worlds). At some point, maybe the human race will suffer from “mental obesity” – as in “too much information?”

Anyway – I digress. I think both musicians are incredibly talented and are entitled to their opinions. But with the new hidden laws the U.S. Government is enacting (like the capability of shutting the internet down) – Prince may just be a soothsayer?

PS – Prince performed Radiohead’s “Creep” at Coachella in 2008.

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5 Comments on "Is the music industry about to die?"

Sgt Rock
Member
Sgt Rock
God is dead. -Nietzsche Nietzsche is dead. -God The Internet is dead. -Prince Prince is dead. -The Internet If Prince doesn’t want to distribute his music the way music fans are now obtaining music, there are plenty of other talented artists who are willing to fill the tiny little void he leaves behind. In the grand scheme of things, nobody gives a damn what Prince thinks about the Internet. If he wants to cloister himself in his mansion and make art that nobody will ever hear, like some modern-day musical J. D. Salinger, so be it. If you have stopped running the race, the least you can do is shut up and get out of the way of those who are still in it. When I hear things like “All these computers and digital gadgets are no good. They just fill your head with numbers and that can’t be good for you,” I think of the people who excuse their inability to complete routine math tasks like computing the tip on a dinner check with lame excuses like “I was never good at math.” These people are mental midgets. My computer, iPod, cellphone and all my other gadgets don’t fill my head with numbers. They fill my head with thoughts, ideas, music, images — that I could not get without the Internet. The Internet is changing everything. Change is hard. Prince is a great musical talent, but he’s apparently not up for it. Time to change your name for the… Read more »
Hobbes
Member
Hobbes

Oops that should read “revenue from music is up” in the first paragraph. That’s what I get for commenting off my iPhone. :-/

emarche
Member

…and I wouldn’t put too much faith in Thom Yorke. There’s more to the “In Rainbows” pay-your-own-price release than he’d like you to know.

Hobbes
Member
Hobbes
The “music industry” is very much alive.  In fact, recent reports say the past few years have been the best years on record (no pun intended).  The amount of music being produced is up.  The revenue from money is way up.  And there are more/easier/better ways of finding/funding/listening to/seeing than ever before. What’s not up are revenues from the recording companies because they haven’t changed their business model to support the realities of the digital age.  As we all know digital distribution brings the costs of producing music down to near zero to the point you can virtually call it that.  As such, inflated prices for albums (and the production, shipment, and storage of) becomes impossible to justify.  Moreover, the added convenience digital allows offers a far superior experience than waiting in line at a store & dealing with rude employees, etc. The record labels have to deal with free and instant on – not because its some ideal that “today’s generation” – but because of the laws of supply and demand.  If you’re unsure of the laws of supply and demand, go back to high school. The recording industry – via the US government might think the DMCA and ACTA are going to solve their problems but they won’t.  Not only did the DMCA not help them, its slowly being whittled down to nothing (not fast enough IMHO).  ACTA is the same thing but has a global scale that flies in the face of fair-dealing laws common in the… Read more »
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