Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Passion Party #591 - Be Careful What You Wish For

About 25 years ago, when digital music streaming was in its infancy, I remember thinking "wouldn't it be great if someone created a 'universal jukebox' that had every song ever made on it, and you could just plug into it and listen to whatever you wanted whenever you wanted?"
Then about 15 years ago I remember asking the Recording Academy to set up a free listening platform so that Grammy members could actually HEAR the music they are supposed to vote for, rather than just vote based on the name of the artist or what record label the person recorded for. They told me at that time it could not be done because there was not one platform that all the companies could agree upon to use and the technology was beyond their ability.
Now the "universal Jukebox" has arrived. Actually we have many of them, from Spotify, Amazon, Apple, etc. And we don't need the Grammys to allow us to listen to whoever we want for free (or close to free).

But has this improved the quality of music? Or improved my ability to enjoy listening to music?

It has improved the QUANTITY of music out there, and the amount of time people are streaming music (the video of Old Town Road has now been viewed over 400 Million times).

But along the way the idea of liner notes, concept albums, the actual musician performing the music, album art and packaging, all have been lost to the pursuit of the single, the fast hit, the rush for "virality".

A 19-year old from the Netherlands known as YoungKio created the “Old Town Road” beat, incorporating a sample from the song “34 Ghosts IV” by rock legends Nine Inch Nails. Lil Nas X purchased the beat in 2018 for $30, which came with limited distribution rights. He crafted a lyric, crossing country music cliches with rap, opened it up for sharing on Tik Tok, and..whoa.

But as my music professor in college used to say, "It's interesting...but is it music?"

And Billie Eilish, the 17-year old nihilist Goth-Pop prodigy of Interscope Records, is up for a slew of Grammys. She just signed a $25 Million dollar deal for an Apple+ TV documentary. Today in the LA Times she is quoted saying "Last year was maybe the worst, I felt like I missed everything...I wasn't enjoying it and I lost all my friends."

Be careful what you wish for, you might just get it.

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