IT'S THE MUSIC, MAN!On the classic Rolling Stones album 12x5, Keith Richards and Mick Jagger wrote the simple phrase: "There've been good times/There've been bad times." The song deals with the ups and downs of relationships, but the same sentiment applies to the music business, and right now, the industry is definitely in the "good times" phase.
Much has been written about how the Internet is destroying the music business, providing a haven for illegal distribution of recordings, lyrics and software. No doubt, there are many unresolved issues to be settled - such as songwriter royalties on downloads - yet, Internet sites and online radio offer a powerful means of promoting new artists and exposing audiences to new musical genres and styles.
Given the ease of Internet shopping, traditional record stores need to step up to survive, perhaps by transforming drab retail sites into environments that enlighten, entertain and educate the consumer. Hey, this is show biz, remember? Stores could also provide high-speed kiosks, where customers could burn CDs with downloads of licensed, legal music and highres graphics. Everybody wins: The store gets a sale, labels/artists get paid and, with no physical inventory required, a vast array of titles (including obscure out-of-print releases) could be available.
The situation is no different for MI retailers: Offer services and events that online sites can't provide - i.e., lessons, rentals, repairs, tradeins, in-store clinics, etc. - and build that solid customer base. Meanwhile, 2001 bodes well for musical instrument sales, whether you're a player or retailer. It's ironic that today I can buy a Ludwig drum set or a Fender Strat for about the same price I paid in the '60s. On the technology side, today's MI, pro and semipro recording systems offer high quality at affordable prices. Figure in faster/cheaper computer systems, native processing and convenient USB interfacing, and a powerhouse desktop (or laptop!) recording system can be assembled at a rock-bottom cost.
Another positive sign for the music biz is Winter NAMM's arrival at the renovated Anaheim Convention Center this month after a three-year hiatus in Los Angeles. Judging from this show's record-paced advance registrations and sold-out exhibit space, NAMM's return to the Land of Disney is a welcome and much-needed change.
Speaking of change, we've got some of our own to announce. Mix's managing editor Tom Kenny takes over the title of editor with this issue, while I move to a new editorial director spot. Tom will handle most of the day-to-day responsibilities at Mix, and I'll be focusing on the overall view of Mix, Sound & Video Contractor (now relocated here to Emeryville) and our related titles, such as Internet Audio, which begins quarterly publication this month, headed up by Mix technical editor Sarah Jones.
Meanwhile, mixonline.com has teamed with digitalmediaclick.com, a portal for all of Intertec's entertainment Web sites, including Electronic Musician, Broadcast Engineering, BE/Radio, Millimeter, Entertainment Design, S&VC, Video Systems, Lighting Dimensions and World Broadcast Engineering, with fast-track access to dozens of technology-based communities within our industry. Your mixonline.com bookmark still works; you just get a lot more for your click.