The Sad State Of Music Industry Coverage

image from ibreathetheunderground.typepad.com The echo chamber of the blogosphere consumes us.

News breaks everywhere. But what does it mean? There seems to be so few interested in saying something, expressing their opinion, and engaging in the deeper discourse.

Writing is hard. It isn't for everyone. However, there are plenty of big questions to be asked about the state of the music industry and there aren't nearly enough people asking them.

Practically matters. There are number of writers that are pursuing actionable insight and distilling their knowledge for artists, helping them make money.

You could argue that once we've achieved that feat, nothing else matters. As long as we're finding ways to pay creators, the dialogue about the music industry is secondary. I'm growing less interested in the industry part, who's being fired and hired isn't compelling. Nor is the news of the Beatles finally coming to iTunes.

It's a story of old rivals making amends and the assured continuance of the move to digital. Maybe now Steve Jobs will aim to actually surprise us. After all, it doesn't seem like Google will anytime soon. It's possible that we'll get Spotify for Christmas, but don't count on it. Yet, there's still much to be excited about.

Music Reimagined

For instance, Aweditorium makes me wish I owned an iPad. The crew behind Thesixtyone, quite literally, has their hands on something here. Why does the app matter? As Luke Lewis explains, "Because Aweditorium does something quite profound: it restores the tactile, visual element that disappeared from music with the advent of the mp3." That's powerful. It enables fans to touch music again and engage with it. The items that are scattered across the web, assembled in one place, allowing fans to enjoy the music on the surface, but dive deeper if they like. And it reattaches art to music. It ties the music to brilliant HD images.

In using Thesixyone, I've noticed that when I encounter songs from the site outside of their interface that they feel naked without the nice images that accompanied them. Music on an iPod never felt naked to me. I have a feeling that as more people interact with music through Aweditorium that music will feel bare again. When it's not conveyed with the assorted and instantly accessible tidbits about the artist and videos of them playing their music, it just won't be the same.

The app has limitations. Shortcomings such as being skewed toward hipster approved indie rock and having a somewhat shallow catalog, but there's plenty of room for the idea to grow. It also fuels the thrill of discovery, as there's a chance for serendipity to occur. The absence of search and readily customizable channels means that users might encounter actually something they hadn't expected. By chance, a song could surprise them. That's the lacking element of many music discovery platforms, they don't know that I've discovered the same music for ten years. Granted, even though these systems are being designed with the mass-consumer in mind, they like surprises too. This reminds me.

Say Anything

Music industry commentary is like that, there's less surprises to find now.

There's a story to be told here and it's being lost somewhere in the race to headlines, top ten lists, and the firestorm coverage of anything Apple does.

Yes, Jobs could wake up on the wrong side of the bed, get anxious about the state of music, and charge forward without major label approval. There could be another small music revolution from Jobs. We just don't know. He could do it.

But, what writers are taking the time to profile the different archetypes of the new music consumer? Who's trying to figure out if local ecologies of music culture are thriving while the old institutions are dying? Who's trying to discern the characteristics that define fans that actively support music and are active participants in their cultural lives from those that take a more passive approach?

Who's taking a hard look at the emerging music consumption system and determining whether or not it encourages a passive fan to get more involved or to just push the button and be entertained? Who's questioning the health and sustainability of the social ecology of music culture online? Who's curious if nonprofits and professionals are winning the fight against the flight of music and arts from schools? Who's documenting the middle class of musicians and distilling the fiction from reality? Who's asking big questions at all? If you have something surprising to share, interesting remarks to make, or an idea you'd like to write about, comment below. Say anything, but say something you mean.

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Connect (kyle.bylin [at] gmail.com), but share below too.


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