Friday, June 01, 2007

OaO Presents: The Music Capsule™

The world of music is changing in fashions both rapid and alarming, being fed by two trends. First, the music itself is, for all practical purposes, free. Second, anyone can create a high-quality recording in their home and immediately make it available to anyone else in the world. There are figuratively ten million musical monkeys out there typing on ten million musical typewriters. 99.999% of it is, predictably, noise. But some of those monkeys are producing Shakespeare that, right now, almost nobody can hear through the cacophony.

Music labels are, as you might imagine, appropriately terrified of this brave new world. I share the fervent hope of many that they'll all sink slowly and painfully into irrelevance, but they probably won't. The "problem" of music on the internet could be solved tomorrow--make all music downloads free, and in return for the right to host that music and advertise (or whatever) along side of it, have websites pay into a fund that is distributed to the artists based on what percentage of downloads their music constitutes (this is exactly what happens today with radio airplay, except revenue distribution is determined by survey, whereas online you could get an exact count. People could certainly create spam-like bots to download their own songs repeatedly to make their music seem more popular than it was, but this is the kind of thing that can be easily detected by statistical fraud analysis. The e-tail giant I work for, for instance, is quite excellent at that sort of thing). The reason this hasn't happened already is that it would make record labels utterly irrelevant.

As with all rich and powerful cartels throughout history, the RIAA as a whole will hang on and use its power as long as it can, suing children and old ladies for pirating music, before finally collapsing and dying. The smart labels, on the other hand, will realize that there is still tons of money to be made in the painstaking process of filtering out the Shakespeares from the screaming cacophonous monkeys, therein finding entirely new streams of revenue and power and giving birth to a new cartel.

I, for one, have decided not to wait. In addition to posting my own songs as I decide they're ready for public consumption, I've started posting songs by other artists who have thrown their art into the current mass music (literal!) free-for-all. Our first artist appearing in the capsule at left is JulianC (I'm guessing it's meant to be pronounced, "JU-lee-ence"), a drumloop-crazed electric guitarist whose concoction I quite enjoyed upon hearing it on MacIdol. As with my own music, I hope you will give it a listen, and if you like it, I hope you'll share it with friends, and so on, and maybe the world will somehow change for the better. If you don't like it, you can, you know, shut up about it.

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