The internet has changed the playing field of many industries, in the way we produce, network and reach our audience. The internet is a great equaliser, it brings prices down, it makes almost everything cheaper. We get to cut out a lot of the middlemen in transactions.
However, there is one industry that stands out for being most maligned by it, causing the entire business model to shift dramatically. Its like talking pictures being invented and accepted by the masses, have a heart and see how those whose livelihood was connected to silent pictures - what a mind blowing change for them. Then we have the invention and acceptance of television, which totally displaces much of the "influence and attraction" of the radio.
However, even those two scenarios added up cannot be compared to the tumultuous upheaval of the music industry by the internet. Now music is almost a commodity. You'd be hard pressed to find anyone paying anything for music. $1.00 seems to be the norm set by Apple.
Can anyone turn this around? I think not because we now listen to music from our phones and pods and pads, not so much from the hi-fi systems at home. There is Spotify now, a morphed Napster, offering an enormous library most for free.
How does this affect you and me? Well, it will and have affected the livelihood of musicians. Record labels will not try to promote new acts, how to when even Jay Chou sells less than 10,000 for his latest album in Malaysia? Now albums are there not to make money but to promote the artistes for live performances. Don't you ever wonder why suddenly over the last 5 years, we see more and more international artistes at our shores - I mean, last time, they would probably skip Malaysia, now we are an important destination.
It affects the kind of artiste that will get recorded or promoted - American Idols, the established players, no one will go for an untried and untested artiste. It used to be that bands in pubs are great breeding ground for great bands, now even the biggest record labels and producers will stay away from them - so we all lose out as that channel gets crushed.
Ever wonder why there have been so many more of the Il Divos, the 5 Tenors, the 20 Chinese lady classical musicians, the 2Cellos - all are marketed hype of beautiful people that can play well to an audience. If you are below average looking as a musician, fat hopes baby. We will never get our Jose Felicianos, our Stevie Wonders ....
The Idols, X-Factors, The Voice (and I am sure we will get the future Lung Busters, The Throat, etc.) are ok on their own but if they are the main source of future global musicians, then we are pandering to the lowest common denominator. We will exclude the Lou Reeds, the 10ccs, the Norah Jones, etc.. of the world.
I dread about the kind of musical talent that will come to the fore in the future, all we have will be the Underwoods, the Susan Boyles ... not that these are bad things, these are just interpreters of things - where will we find the new sound (Adele and Rumer are exceptions), where will we discover our Bebel Gilbertos, our Joanna Wang (if not for her father) or Blur?
As musicians, they will always bring this up as fucking up their industry, yes... stomach it or leave it. Know that you might not make tons of money from it, and you better be damn good as a performing live artiste. Its not the same anymore, no point bitching about it, the tide has shifted. You can still make it but the path is very different and you have to play a lot more gigs, grow your audience bit by bit, play larger and larger venue until the record labels deem it as sufficiently "safe" to pick you up.