Friday, 16 January 2009

Two things.

I'm setting the whole contents of my Ipod on shuffle as I write this a.) because I'm going to be here for a while, and b.) because it's exactly what I'm trying to say.

Two things have got me here, one is X-Factor and the other is this

Alexandra Burke's version of Hallelujah was Number One at Christmas, Jeff Buckley was Number Two. Now, this can be looked at two ways - it could be that people simply wanted the definitive edition of the song as introduced by Burke, which my less cynic-fuelled side can see in perhaps 0.2% of cases. The truth is that the music consuming public (forgive me for the generalisation) showed all it's colours. Distinct. Not blurred.
I don't want to use the word 'revolution' because it's far too premature and throwaway, besides
I'm reluctant to believe there will be a revolution that bursts at its seams - I think what we're experiencing now is the product of years of undercurrents but something that will continue without any loss of pace, tenacity or importance for the rest of my music consuming life. My business degree was not completely wasted on me, as I recognise the various types of music consumer and the needs inherent to each. I quite enjoy being able to at least read the other side of it whilst sitting firmly in my chair on my side of the divide. Balance, understanding, all that good shit.
Music is consumed. Consumption and its methods and mediums adapt over time. Music adapts.
You don't argue with people about how they listen to music, in all its forms. We can fight till our teeth itch about dwindling physical sales, about the liner notes, about how it used to be. I'm not advocating that people don't fight against it, I'm just not sure how much resistance is there to meet the fight. Record companies want to make money by whichever means possible. That's a fact, money drives it and turns it around and makes it stick. No fighting there.
But... and here's where the two don't meet.... the industry is only as good as the music coming out of it. Perhaps what we're seeing now is the result of a decade (if not more) of poor development, greed, more poor development and yeah, more greed? And sadly, a numbness of consumer.

Wiki says:
In the music industry, a record label can be a brand and a trademark associated with the marketing of music recordings and music videos. Most commonly, a record label is the company that manages such brands and trademarks, coordinates the production, manufacture, distribution, marketing and promotion, and enforcement of copyright protection of sound recordings and music videos; conducts A&R; and maintains contracts with recording artists and their managers.

Lots of elements there, huh? I'm not differentiating between majors, independents, sub-labels or any other 'type' of label the industry creates. The loosest definition in my eyes would be that a record company should be a distributor, a supporter, a management matrix. It's exploitative by it's very nature, but what seems to have happened is that the divide has become so wide that it takes an almighty run-up to get you safely to the other side. The run-up involves money, or a favour, or a famous daddy, or luck and occasionally talent.

My rub with record companies lies in the lack of artist development, and subtle ignorance of the men with the money. There are so many artists who should have their music made available and that's exactly what's been happening. That is the ongoing nature of the revolution. People are consuming music that they find, not the music that's been made for them. The Internet is picking up the pieces the record labels are missing, they're holding up the distribution arm of the deal. Music is being made that people want to listen to, and not be pummelled by. Artists have stopped trying to get a record deal, they've stop manipulating their decisions to reflect the expectations of others. They're making music for themselves and just keeping their fingers crossed instead.

And that's what makes it so fucking brilliant.

This will always win.

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