Saturday, January 3, 2009

Music Business Is Eating Its Tail and I Feel Fine

It was a moment of digital revelation.

While listening to a podcast of a NPR radio program through my iPod connected to my car stereo, the Clash's "London Calling" was played. I had to turn off my iPod to ensure that my cell phone wasn't playing its own "London Calling" ringtone.

This circular auditory confusion must make the music business feel like the snake eating its tail. And they're right. However, this is just the noisy debris of a rapidly-expanding music industry.

We are at the precipice of a very noisy revolution. With declining CD sales continuing to swamp rising digital sales, record companies and artist have globbing their music to any medium that will stick. Music within video games, ringtones, commercial jingles and web ads are quickly reaching the upper levels of cacophony.

Many will continue to wring their hands regarding the effects of this explosion of song outlets has on the "business" and the artistry itself. The critics often miss the point that this cacophony is the sound of freedom in a very noisy, ever expanding, financially-challenging way.

The point being lost is that we are listening to more music than ever before. This is at least anecdotally evident through the mass of earbuds hanging from our collective ears. And there is more music being made. Myspace is swamped with bands - for good or ill. The loss of the record companies' control over the distribution of music has globalized the punk ethic of doing it yourself. And bands are and we, the music fans, are the beneficiaries.

As the music business continues to noisily thrash around trying to find a workable means to continue (and they will), we will have to temporarily put up with some auditory confusion. But that is well-worth the ocean of new music now lapping at our feet.

Download: Radio, Radio by Elvis Costello (mp3) (Amazon) (iTunes)

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