The music industry is dying.
Music is very much alive. This is the day and age in which we live. Growing up I remember a small world of music. Kurt Loder and VH1 played videos twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. The radio would play whatever three-minute morsel it chose ready for consumption. Our choices came from choices that were made for us and in those days a song could play for weeks and weeks until eventually we hated the sounds we once celebrated. Then we would wait for something new to come along.
Then Al Gore invented the internet. It wasn’t Al Gore but for the sake of time, let’s just leave it there. Sean Parker invents Napster with a little help from his friends. It pissed off Metallica and maybe some others. But what Napster did was change how we got our hands on music. I’m not advocating the illegal downloading of music, at least not in a public forum.
What we have now is choice. As I sit here typing this article, I am listening to Pandora radio. I have something to the tune of twenty or thirty stations that I have personally selected. We all know how this works. We pick an artist and it gives us some songs and then artists that kind of go in a similar direction. Although sometimes I wonder what the hell Pandora is thinking. If we want to, we can like it. And if we don’t, we can skip it. It’s like tuning the radio dial to just the right station. I don’t have to spin a dial over and over just to get annoyed and turn the damn thing off in disgust over the choices that some executive at WWTF radio decided was good for me and in turn good for him.
Because of the many social sites I’m on, I can hear about music that I normally would have never heard because of all the limitations that the music industry tried to put on my ears. People like Kanye. If you like Kanye, then like Kanye. The point is that if you like Kanye, you can get Kanye. Although I’m pretty sure old ladies living in cave have had to hear Kanye spout off about something at some point. I’m pretty sure the man will find you.
We live in the age when we are the music industry. Even Apple and all its iTunes can’t stop you. For some of us maybe the FBI can. But we have power. And power is a beautiful thing in the hands of people simply searching for some tune that they can get lost in after a day of whatever they do to survive. Some preteen kid in a broken part of the former Soviet Union can log on hear someone like Bob Dylan years after and have his life changed. What else is music for? It should never be force-fed. And this thirty-seven year old father can sit here typing to the sounds of anything from Tom Waits to Gnarls Barkley. Does that me crazy? Probably.
What the amazing part of it all is that music now benefits from the internet. I’ve heard some of the best music I’ve ever heard in the past five years. I’ve also been able to go backwards and discover music I never heard in my suburban sheltered life.
The coffee shop dwellers that love folk singers can sip lattes. The angry kid who just doesn’t get answers can hear the wise words of KRS-ONE . The girl who sits and daydreams about some boy in class that doesn’t talk to her can hear her Taylor Swift. The lonely kid that no one seems to see finds comfort in the sounds of arcade fire. A forty-year old who just longs for the sounds days gone by can drive her kids nuts with Poison or Def Leppard.
We are the music industry now. There was a time when we looked to others to be voices. Now we are voices. We are not just consumers. We are music.
James is a thirty something forty nothing who spends monday through friday in a nine to five that lasts eight to four. He spends his nights walking crooked lines and writing straight ones in broken smoke rings fading in to musical notes of romance and poetry. He takes his bourbon straight and his coffee black. He’s just a guy living and breathing while all the while seeing and feeling.