The discussion of content generators and content consumers resonates with me. I believe that interconnection between artist and listener is going to be the key to the new uses of media.
I don’t mean that an artist needs to be warm and cuddly, or an excellent weblog writer. I meant that a coherent set of images, ideas, and sounds are going to be the key to what resonates with the listening public.
I think it’s telling that even the “most commercial”, “most a & r”, and arguably “most karaoke” of the new chart-toppers,the American Idol movement, involves a great deal of read/write experience. Despite the weeking of the candidates into semi-finalists, and the various aesthetic imperfections of the process, the show nonetheless generates chart-makers by getting niches of America excited in a participatory system to choose their celebrities. Why has Idol stormed America in a way that, say, the Eurovision song contest concept or Star Search or the Ted Mack Amateur Hour never could? For all its flaws, American Idol has its finger on a key artery of the Amrican pulse. Carrie Newcomer is a perfect example of a star who became a star because middle America felt it chose her as its star. Never mind that the song-writing is pedestrian. Never mind the image-management, the
production values, all that. The reality is that
American Idol created a facsimile of read/write experience for the audience.
What mixter and indie CC and collective artists and new labels offer is a chance for the audience to be part of the experience,and not removed from the experience. This is certainly true in the netlabel movement, in which I am on-line friends with a number of my current musical “heroes”. We all live in a giant and unforeseen graphic novel in which all the comic book heroes have been replaced by everyday working forces for good.
When America is offered a chance to replace the faux read/write of American Idol (or Disney Channel or what have you) with real collaborative experiences,then the mainstream audience will evolve to embrace these artists, to the benefit of all. This is the music revolution that beckons to us like the angel of justice waiting in the wings, sword set aside, and harp at the ready.
I do not know whom is the best purchaser for mixter. I think that the transition is inevitable, and may well be a good thing for all concerned. I would like to see the winning bid be a non-profit/for-profit blend with a core non-profit supervising the fulfillment of the CC mission while a for-profit utilizes the franchise for purposes of good. It could be that the right for-profit is a record company, but I also imagine that an unconventional media player might work, particularly one from the computer software side or ‘net media side of the equation.
Regardless of whom is the winning bidder, I think that the key is to take the simple concept of the mixter and to understand it and further implement it, as opposed to “improving” the concept beyond recognition.
I come to CC music from a DIY/mail art/social network place. I see the music industry as fulfilling the promise of cassette exchange, only using technology to move us from (wonderful but not mainstream-able) R. Stevie Moore country to
a different way to define music.
The resizing and evaporising of the recording industry is not at all a bad thing, really. The CD over-pricing problem is just as serious as the Detroit plan to make cars go quickly obsolete. In the face of *any* competition, this strategy folds, because it was built on hegemony and control of the sales portals, not upon a wise business plan. The hegemony is shattered–long live the shards of the splintered glass.
Should investors invest in labels and collectives rather than individuals? Perhaps. Is there a place for aggregations of artists? Absolutely.
Do people still think in terms of an artist’s body of work? I think so, because I sure do think that way.
Yet all of this is to me a bit beside the point.
An enormous flow of great music, images, and words exist out there, far more signal than the people who dismissed everything as noise might have predicted. Will this array of vibrant culture be reduced back to traditional record industry paradigms? Never.
I’m not worried about whether open source music takes over the American airwaves or the majority of the listening audience.
I have faith that a new way of sharing and experiencing music has begun–and investors, artits, and labels are part of it, or they are obsolete. It’s not really more complex than that.