You hear a lot of talk today about the end of the music industry. Cries abound from industry insiders and the media, “That’s it its all over!! The music apocalypse is coming, drop your guitars boys and girls, and run for the hills!”
There is no denying the old music industry label model is undergoing a crisis. And no doubt, there has been a great deal of teeth gnashing and hand wringing from doom filled accountants at the major labels.
But maybe now is the time to challenge and reconsider those older models of the music industry, how its operated in the past, and many of its current value judgments.
From my observations, I would argue maybe that fine balance of art verses commerce with the major labels has been become so tilted towards the side of commerce, and it is its own false perception of being “commercial” that has resulted in a perpetual cycle of decline in the production of quality music. Remember, as an industry we’re trying to create and sell what might be considered music, not to push out to the masses some sort of sonically freeze dried alternative that only vaguely resembles the real thing (always remember to add water), and then have that product thrust upon us via continual hollow and hyper sexualized imagery. Who wouldn’t be surprised that consumers are opting out and spending their entertainment dollar elsewhere.
Additionally, modern trends in mastering records has become so obsessed in cranking up or compressing the sound to make the music appear louder that its killing any musical dynamics that might reside in the performance. The resulting approach sucks the life out of any recorded music and ultimately just bores the tits and ears off the poor listener. Strangely the prevailing music industry ‘logic’ is that we all want this and just love LO-O-O-U-D squashed and boring music.
On reflection, at the end of the day nobody wants to spend his or her hard earned dollars on rubbish.
But the flip side of all this “industry bad news” is that access to cheaper quality recording technology, the huge amounts of information on music business in books and the Internet, and with a new distribution models the veil is being slowly lifted for the indie artist. For the indie artist, you get the freedom to do what YOU want to do artistically, explore new territories and hopefully a bring few people along for the ride that will like what you are doing.
Today’s indie artists need to be multi-skilled artists. You are not just the musician, now you are the manager, CEO of your own label, marketing person, social media expert, audio engineer, writer/composer/arranger and if you can make good judgment calls on your own material, you can win the door prize of being the producer as well – “Welcome to the big chair!”
The ultimate motivation for the music remains the same for both the indie artist and listener. People listen and play music to feel something and experience something, or to be transported to another place and time. Today’s Facebook, Twitter and smartphones are isolating technologies which seem to cut people off from their humanity. More manufactured, cured and flat musical product is not something that will help us to reconnect with ourselves and others.
It’s the emotion in any music that moves people, let’s get back to core principles. For example, Blues music at its core is to look directly into the eyes of sadness, move through that emotion and switch the listener around. It’s a journey for the soul, definitely not kiddies’ stuff. For me, that’s what quality music is all about, not a hollow 2 minutes worth of disposable bubble-gum pop.
As an artist you’re always looking to generate a reaction of some sort to the listener. Quality melodies, arrangements, soul, good ideas, music with life and recordings with an inner Blues core are the musical fundamentals.
I think people want to listen to music that isn’t rubbish anymore. Its no surprise that major labels are suffering.
I believe that today is the age of the “indie” artist.
If you would like to hear Nick J Harvey’s Music challenging the status quo.
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