Our May issue asked, “What Can Save the Music Industry?” Readers had plenty of opinions on the subject. Read unedited versions of these and other letters, or discuss them in Mix Forums, atwww.mixonline.com.
SAVE OUR SOUL
Wonderful issue, and I raise my chalice to you for addressing the problem in print. However, I think that a great part of the problem has been overlooked. It has been said that music reflects the time in which it was made. This has never been more true than it is today. Music, in general, is easy, prepackaged, convenient, contrived and perfection-oriented, with an enormous emphasis on the way it looks. (Musician or movie star — which is it?) This, in my opinion, is gleaming proof that Orwell is giggling as we speak. You couldn't process cheese more than music these days.
Whether it's downloaded, or bought as a new CD, or bought as a used CD, or it's 24-bit, or the band is hired to play in my living room, or it's on vinyl, or Donald Fagen plays the spoons on it, or Bob Ludwig mastered it in a bamboo hut on the moon, or it's on the radio, it's still just crap music. Everything is too easy for everyone. The best art is seemingly always created under conditions of tension.
I sometimes wonder what it would all be like if the only thing to gain in this industry would be personal satisfaction. At the end of the day, I don't care if I steal it from the Internet, or I buy a CD, tape or record. Just show me some soul. That's all I ask.
A CHANGE IS GONNA COME
Stephen St.Croix's article [“Beat to Hell”] in the May issue is right on the money. The industry has to get with it or get left behind. Getting my issue of Mix the day after Apple announced iTunes 4 and the online music store associated with it [which St.Croix covers in this month's “Fast Lane,” p. 20 — Eds.] gave me an interesting feeling of déjà vu, because he sure hits the price of things on the nose. With all five of the big labels involved, maybe musicians have a future. Let's hope the online delivery system that Apple has come up with will give us the short path.
Strange Parts Music
I THANK YOU
I just read your May issue and want to congratulate you for addressing a difficult time in our industry and exploring various reasons for, as well as possible answers to, our current situation. Blair Jackson's “A Fine Mess” drew us a road map to show how we got to this dark place and offered a light of hope. Paul D. Lehrman's “The Kids Are All Right” gave an insight into our consumers, those the major labels have taken for granted for far too long. Perhaps we should stop looking for others to blame and instead take a look at ourselves.
Shivaun M. O'Brien
Sound City Studios
TEARS OF A CLOWN
I'm sorry, but the cover story by Blair Jackson [“A Fine Mess”] and the article by Stephen St.Croix [“Beat to Hell”] are so sad. Boo hoo, I got tears in my eyes. Wait…those are tears from laughing too hard. Not to say I told you so, but who didn't see this crap coming? It's not too bad for the recording industry, it's too bad for the record companies. Too bad that they're painting such an evil picture of kids who download music.
We, as engineers, must embrace technology and not try to limit it. We should be promoting the Internet. We should be promoting art and artists, whether they have the cash or not, and rejecting the music business. “We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams.” Oh Willy, where are you now after you gave away your entire chocolate factory to some kid who broke the rules and drank the bubble-up soda?
In the fourth paragraph of “A Fine Mess,” a record industry executive reveals that the music industry didn't understand what the unexpected consequences of moving into the digital domain would be. They thought they were doing a great thing by improving the sound. Blah, blah, blah. They did no such thing. They suck, and they sound like Al Gore declaring that he invented the Internet. For the music industry executive who thinks that they are a great savior of the audible arts, and that they basically created CDs, and promoted the digital domain, I have news for them: It took 20 years for them to go to hell, now take your small penis and leave. They have lasted longer than most businesses that suffer the same fate.
I disagree that if the record industry fails, there will be no music. Concerts will continue, recordings will continue and sales will continue. Music will live. Maybe not as a huge industry, but it will continue.
Director, Customized Multimedia
CHAIN OF FOOLS
Blair Jackson writes, “Of course, there's no telling how many people would buy much of the music they currently get for free off the Web, but there's no doubt that billions of dollars are being drained out of the music industry every year by [online file sharing].”
As the saying goes, “There are lies, damn lies, and then there are statistics.” Statistics can be used to help understand what goes on in the world, but, as any marketing exec or PR company knows, they can also be manipulated.
Dan Bricklin, the inventor of VisiCalc, who knows his way around statistics, did a wonderful analysis on the record industry numbers. Bricklin finds that if the RIAA is right about peer-to-peer networks and CD burners damaging CD sales, then, when combined with other negative factors such as a slow economy and competing entertainment choices, the numbers should look a lot worse.
Instead, in his essay “The Recording Industry Is Trying to Kill the Goose That Lays the Golden Egg” (www.bricklin.com/recordsales.htm), Bricklin argues that file trading is one of the few factors that may have prevented the RIAA from having to report far worse sales damage in recent years.
High CD prices and junk music don't help, but declaring war on your customers instead of finding creative ways to win them over has been the greatest error the labels and the RIAA could have ever committed.
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