Technology and Society Wednesday: The Disappearance of Music

OK, at least I didn’t title this “The Day the Music Died.”

Here’s what the list of “Nine Things the Will Disappear in Our Lifetime” floating around the internet says about the disappearance of music:

 This is one of the saddest parts of the change story. The music industry is dying a slow death. Not just because of illegal downloading. It’s the lack of innovative new music being given a chance to get to the people who would like to hear it. Greed and corruption is the problem. The record labels and the radio conglomerates are simply self-destructing. Over 40% of the music purchased today is “catalogue items,” meaning traditional music that the public is familiar with. Older established artists. This is also true on the live concert circuit. To explore this fascinating and disturbing topic further, check out the book, “Appetite for Self-Destruction” by Steve Knopper, and the video documentary, “Before the Music Dies.”

Now, I think the writer of this paragraph is speaking of the music industry or business which is indeed on the ropes. It’s a situation similar to publishers of books. They want to make money (oddly enough) and so they won’t take a chance on an unproven author. Authors, as a result, are self-publishing and marketing their own books [by the way, the local Manassas/Prince William County writers’ group I’m a part of, Write by the Rails, is sponsoring a panel on marketing your book. Here’s a link to some more info on it: http://writebytherails.blogspot.com/search/label/Events (scroll down to the July 26th entry)]. Somewhat the same thing has happened in the music trade in recent years. Artists are going directly to their audiences, if you will, by posting their music on the web. In some cases, they are on iTunes, which has pretty much killed off concept albums like Sergeant Pepper since people can pick and choose which songs they want to listen to or buy.

So, the music industry might be dying, but the kids have changed the game and in their hands, it’s alive and well. An example of indie artist who have used the internet to great advantage are Nataly Dawn and Jack Conte They cover songs and also write originals as the group Pomplamoose. You might have heard Nataly’s voice a couple of years ago when she provided the background music for a Toyota commercial and sang “Mr. Sandman.” Here’s a link to that song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9xMCNmUaGko and you’re right: Nataly apparently never blinks.

Then, of course, there’s live music. The shows at the Hylton Center on the Prince William campus of George Mason University are selling well, and there are all kinds of local choral and instrumental musical groups. So, the day the music died is not upon us yet. As American composer Joseph Martin wrote in one of his anthems, “Let music live!” And it does.

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