Being from Music City, I felt compelled to read this article in the Washington Post (See - 'Before the Music Dies' Diagnoses an Ailing Industry - washingtonpost.com). It is basically about a documentary film chronicling the commercialization of the music business which is driving the heart from music industry.
The documentary, Before the Music Dies, is a series of interviews of music lovers and old school musicians, commenting on the current state of affairs of the music scene. The message seems to be that music has sold out to the man, leaving hollow, marketed crap out there on the shelves for the consumer.
Some hope is seen in the new indie scene, digitial music, direct creation and sale to music consumers, but in the end the article finishes with a keen observation about modern culture. Here are the last few paragraphs, which I find a true song therein:
But even as Rasmussen says he's not terribly optimistic about the ability of talented new artists to find an audience, the film touches on new paths that are emerging to connect music and listeners: satellite radio, the Internet, file sharing, bands that handle their own distribution. There's even a scene celebrating an FM radio station that dares to go its own way -- Seattle's KEXP, where deejays get to pick their own tunes and play tastemaker.
Rasmussen believes that in this era, when the promise of infinite choice slams up against the reality of time-stressed lives, what listeners crave is "someone to tell them where the great new music is." As the movie quotes Bob Dylan, who in his dotage has taken up the role of radio deejay: "It's just too much. It's pollution."
But this cry for someone to synthesize information -- a way to identify and lead people to quality work -- conflicts with the rhetoric of the Internet, the notion that out there on the Web, democracy is pure and no middleman need exist.
That is the central contradiction in popular culture today, the celebration of unbounded choice even as overwhelmed consumers crave both art they can share with others and a reliable guide to sift through all the junk for them.
Anyway, music folks may want to read...
Hard Right Turn: I think this last paragraph applies to American Christianity in two ways:
- We too pick churches like people in a shopping mall. We are consumers seeking the vibe that fits "me" and "us" - is the music to our liking, is the preacher entertaining, do they have something for "me?" - we even call it "church shopping." Consumerus Maximus may well be the new Western Deity.
- I think the Protestant mega-church has bought the story of offering "unbounded choice" at the church itself and in doing so somewhat splintered the spiritual life of the Christian family. The church has something for the kid, the teen, the young, the old, the in-between, the women, the man, etc. Everything is very targeted and marketed to the individual. Right or wrong, I am part of this world. What I see as a bi-product is an erosion in the cohesion in the family's life with God is lost while individuals consume various portions of the church pie. Mom is studying X, Dad Y, the kids Z. All going in different directions, wondering why no one connects at home.