In discussing the cost of music, Bob Lefsetz hits it squarely in the groin, pointing out that the gravy train of CDs and overpriced concert tickets was nothing but a temporary mirage that lulled artists into seeing dollar signs instead of the waning receptiveness of fans. (Now, that's one sentence with too many metaphors.) The "CD era" is, or was, not an upward trend, but a spike in the history of music that will have to, or has already started to, regress to the mean.
He finishes with:
The war is over. The price of recorded music has deflated.
And this is good.
This allows more people to listen to more music. Recorded music used to be for the rich. Most people could only afford a few CDs a year. Now you can listen to everything, for free. And there’s nothing the rights holders can do about this.I have said before, here or elsewhere, that I wish artists could live for free*, the way Olympians would. Of course, with the way the modern world is structured, this is not possible; but in a certain hypothetical universe or point in history, it is. I don't think you can put a price on art, though people have tried, because ideas are not quantifiable. We can tell when we like one thing more than another, but we can't say, in definable ways, why Cynic, say, is better than whatever over-produced schlock is on the magazine cover this month. It just is.
Ideas are not copyrightable, they are not patents and creations. The people (and other animals) that choose to traverse this road deserve to be commended, not derided. And I don't say it because I'm one of those people, but because I think it's a genuine shame to find dazzling talent wasting away because the number of otherwise valueless sheets of paper collected in their wallet was never high enough. Eliminating this need would allow us to witness an unprecedented era of creativity and invention because the people that do it best would be able to do so without having the politics of their industry slumping over their backs.
Eliminating it would also take away the bitterness many of the aforementioned dollar-eyed musicians must be feeling after reading that quote. But I love it. Both because moving past the constriction of physical media has let me listen to what I want when I want (although, as previously stated, there are special cases in which I do like to have both), and now my decision to give away my mediocre music for nothing doesn't look so bad.
Again, I have said before, here or elsewhere, that U.S. politics is utterly fascinating to me because not being attached to it affords me the ability to see it for the farce that it is. In a previous "Links", I mentioned Newt Gingrich's Twitter account, which contained 1,325,842 followers, most of which were dummies set up by "a variety of agencies whose sole purpose is to procure Twitter followers for people who are shallow/insecure/unpopular enough to pay for them". Keeping that in mind, Gingrich, in the revolving door that is Mitt Romney's Biggest Rival of the Week, has had a resurgence in the polls and found himself as this week's Biggest Rival of the Week. Newt's schtick of the moment is that he has "matured", or whatever, since leaving Capitol Hill, but, fortunately for us, Truthdig... dug... through the muck and has found the true Newt.
Watching Newt rise, fall, and now rise again is like watching the part-hilarious/part-depressing subplot of a movie about ambitious, vain, greedy - I want to say "pigs", but pigs aren't this bad, so I'll just say "humans" - ambitious, vain, greedy humans vying for a gold crown emblazoned with "Leader of the Free World**". Actually, it's like a reality TV show; except, you know, real! In any case, Conason assures that "this sequel to [Gingrich's] failed career is more likely to end in farce—just like the original."
I love happy endings.
* In a another universe, perhaps these artists are supported by philanthropic billionaires, whose only desire in this relationship is to see what can come out of their union. At least, here, too, the goal will not be to make money.
** Subtitle: "Not really."