How MySpace killed the radio star and our collective musical culture.
How MySpace killed the radio star and our collective musical cultureThe internet keeps telling me what a good thing it is that major labels have lost control of the music business. You know: Digital recording lets musicians make inexpensive, professional-quality records at home. Online distribution allows bands to reach listeners without the interference of narrow-minded mainstream gatekeepers.Then how come music is such a train wreck? Visit MySpace and you're confronted by more than two million artists, presented in a way that gives equal weight to Bob Dylan and to primitive rants by some guy in a tinfoil hat. New music has disappeared from commercial radio. In an escalating race to anoint the next big thing, bloggers subject bands to withering scrutiny before they can even figure outwho they are. These days it seems that the best a new band can hope for is an anonymous music cue on Grey's Anatomy.An uneasy truth remains: The shared experience that made music so dominant in our culture was the transitory product of a combination of record-company influence and radio play, and that moment has passed. It's easy to list the ways that the record companies blew it: They ignored underground American rock for almost 20 years and almost missed out on the alt-rock explosion. They never rewrote their nonsensical recording contracts to give artists fair royalty accounting. Other than radio play, they never figured out a form of promotion that actually sold records. But there is no one who doesn't recognize the importance of the music they released in the 50 years after World War II.
|How come music is such a train wreck?|