If ever there was an example of everything that is wrong with the world today, the music industry is surely it. In a world where corporations and money are in charge, in some ways they have been the poster child of the financial world as we know it today. Think about it. The so-called ‘powers that be’ in the music business have been working to control everything you see and hear for decades. It just seems the rest of the business world caught on in more recent decades.
From the days of payola to the complete control of terrestrial radio today, corporate music giants wrote the book on control. Feeding kids formulaic bullshit music early on so that becomes what they know and accept follows the same line of convention that politics and media does today with a drivel-distracted public being easily fed rights abuses and war.
Our only saving grace? The internet. It is the hope we have though I fear we live in a time where anything that might provide some freedom for the masses could be culled and coerced into something it was never meant to be.
As hard as bands are trying to find new and exciting ways to make a living in this new world, corporations, lawyers and politicians are working very hard and very quietly to use the law to make the free and open into coddled and controlled. In a world where so few have so much you have to wonder what kind of sickening mentality allows them to believe that they need more. Or all. Power and control. Money is only a vehicle to that. And the madness that followed Radiohead putting out an album at ‘pay what you want including nothing’ prices freaked them all out.
Myself as an example, I don’t have a lot of spare cash to purchase music. It is what it is. So I am selective in my buying. That doesn’t stop me from listening. The only difference is I don’t listen to the radio for music anymore. I have all but stopped listening altogether. I am not going to lie. I download most of my music for free. Between websites, Twitter and that, I get exposed to a lot of music I love. And when I find something that I really love, I will spend a few dollars on that. Sometimes an album, sometimes a song. I am in control.
The music industry hates people like me. I am the century’s version of a hippie. Instead of free love, I have free access to music. I go find what I like and I don’t have it spoon-fed to me.
The monolith that is the music industry cannot be sustained under current conditions and will do whatever it can to maintain control. And where are those within the system who are making the millions standing up for the rest? Call out Gagas and the Perrys but you could say the same about U2, Coldplay and so on down the line of every major musical lineage.
In many ways, U2 are the worst offender as they have taken their millions and made it into mega-millions. Where are the new enterprises designed to helped the indie outfit get a leg up? Most big artists idea of investment is strictly ‘Hey, I like these guys’ on Twitter or in an interview.
I’ve complained bitterly on U2’s money. The ridiculously priced box set from a band that used to care more that real fans had access, they’ve now become the definition of the problem. As one of the few who make it work inside the system, they need a rebel song. Stop the money machine and open up the world. Break the monopoly now so the bands can make a living. Are these big artists as bad as the corporations? Their money is theirs and no one else should reap the benefits? Is this any different from workers who don’t even get cost of living increases while the executives take home million dollar bonuses? Spread the wealth and equality flows. That works in every aspect of business and life. Including music.
I am not denying these big bands have worked hard to earn their fortunes. And working for fairness and equality in Africa is all well and good. My question is where does your definition of fairness end? On a single continent? As someone who has gotten very involved in the indie scene in recent years, I see so many bands that could make a go of it but the options are just not there for survival. Why aren’t the ‘have’ bands doing everything in their power to level the playing field for the ‘have-nots’? It’s like they all forget where they came from. Even if they still live in the area.
The system will and is breaking but you know the next generation of corporate money-mongers will buy whatever control they can. Eventually the supertanker will wake up to the iceberg and they will rebuild that control. With money controlling government, laws to support the ‘industry’ can and will be put in place. And where will the little guy be? Working a factory job so he can afford petrol to the next gig. Is fair even possible? Will we ever wake up to what is happening? And will those bands who were once rebels and fought the system remember that others came behind to fill those spots. The only problem is they are still there. Or gone.