Forget the mainstream

May 29, 2004

If you haven’t already seen this week’s Frontline documentary, “The Way The Music Died”, you can stream it directly from their web site.  (Thanks Harry for the head’s up)

It’s interesting.  They did spend a few minutes beating on the tired old spin of how much sales are down due to downloading (despite recent numbers that show the opposite), but they spent a lot more time on how the industry itself has killed the product, strangling innovation and continuing to try to stuff the channel full of the same old tired, cookie-cutter music.

One thing they didn’t talk about is how little of the CD sales revenue (if sales occur at all) actually gets into the pocket of the artist.  Concert revenues are much more important for artists—the problem is that the current “system” requires radio airplay, which requires industry promotion, which requires mainstream sales in order to promote the concert.

If the whole mainstream industry is dying under the weight of it’s own greed and consolidation, why not just disintermediate the damn thing and do without?  Make the music readily available online, promote it online, and drive ticket sales from that.  Today’s good, innovative music is largely the province of bands that couldn’t get radio airplay on a bet.  All it needs is a little awareness on the part of the management of these bands that making just a little bit of great representative music available for download and letting the rabid core fans use this to go out and promote the hell out of it would put a lot of asses in concert venue seats. Sure, it’d piss off the record labels, but maybe it’s time for that to happen anyway—you can sell albums to these same fans directly, and redirect the label’s cut to the artists.

If enough of this would happen, the radio stations would sooner or later have to follow suit and start playing the music people are actually supporting, instead of the latest label promoted pabulum.

Speaking the music industry, if you’ve not been watching them lately, you may be surprised to learn that the RIAA’s lobby is coming DANGEROUSLY CLOSE to getting the US Department of Justice to use YOUR TAX DOLLARS to go out and put P2P users in jail.  The “Pirate Act” is being fast-tracked HEAVILY and is liable to go to a vote in the Senate NEXT WEEK, without so much as a public hearing.

If you’re a US Citizen, you need to RUN—DON’T WALK to the EFF Action Center and let YOUR SENATOR know that you do NOT appreciate this crap.

Go. Do It Now.  We’ll wait.

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One Response to “Forget the mainstream”

  1. rimone on June 5th, 2004 1:54 am

    thanks for the head’s up, chuck. it only takes a minute to do this, people.

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