Music as Industry or Art?

This week’s The Economist has a piece about music piracy online.  I don’t care (or have the expertise) to get into all the details of this issue, but want to launch off this:

Retail music sales are falling so quickly, in part because of file-sharing, that there may not be much of an industry to protect in three years’ time.

Can you imagine?  NO music industry in less than half a decade? (And, of course, if this is true, is the music industry “too big to fail,” and thus deserving of a bailout?)

This sounds particularly dire if, in fact, it actually meant that music would also cease. Of this, I am skeptical.  Having known several musicians involved with the music industry, I can’t recall any of them having any particular faith in the industry. Generally, their experience was that the industry was more about making money than about supporting and encouraging the artists or the music.

So, while my estimation of the music industry decreased, knowing musicians given me second thoughts about piracy.  Musicians are as worthy as anyone else for received compensation for their production.

I am more than willing to pay for music – especially if the musician, rather than the industry benefits.

Which brings to mind a book I was given last week.  Paul J. Meyer is a local philanthropist in Waco.  The books Pink Slip Proof.  It is all (and I mean ALL) about the benefits and glory of sales.  While very different than anything else I’ve read this year, I have to admit I enjoyed the read.  Taking less than a day, Pink Slip Proof is as much motivational tool as informational guide.  Stories of sales successes abound.  Some will make useful sermon fodder for me over the years.

Yet, I was also uneasy throughout the book.  Meyers’ contention that everything is, ultimately, about sales unsettled me.

At risk of punning, I can’t buy this.  The glory of music, like any other art, is the expression of creativity, of passion welling in the soul, whether or not it sells!

My favorite Christian Artist of all time, Steve Taylor, commented on the lure of the music industry away from the art of music, that “the fire left the grooves when the first check came.”

When music is all about money, it isn’t really about music anymore. Long live music!  Music industry, not so much.

I will gladly continue to support artists.


One thought on “Music as Industry or Art?

  1. I am not what most people would consider an artist, but like artists, what I do is not for the sake of a sale (though “uptake,” as Jim McClendon might say), is an essential part). But artists – and people in my line of work – have to “make a living,” or “pay the bills.” Do we “make a living” by doing what we love doing, what we’re gifted at – or does that improperly sully the beauty of what we do? Do we need to find something more mundane to do to “make a living?”

    That said, I have no impression that the Entertainment Industry cares a whit for the artists they “employ” (“exploit” often seems more appropriate). I think their real fear is that the internet and modern technology will eliminate the need for middle men (i.e., the Industry).

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