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Long Time Music Industry Writers Clueless On Impacts Of Technology

BuzzOp Ed by Daniel Legere for China Music Radar.

Every now and again the big bad business press take a dip into topics that don’t really suit them or their typical audience. Could be boredom, or perhaps vague attempts at riding the buzzwagon of a trending topic. Imagine our surprise when we spotted this article on Forbes, entitled “4 Reasons Why Music Careers Are Getting Trounced By Tech”, authored by a contributor who claims to have worked in music for many years as a producer, engineer and musician. You would have thought the author of 18 music-related books would have something interesting to say, but this entry is something else.

We don’t like the spin of the article, its points are crude, cold, capitalistic, and address tech as if it exists within its own exclusive arena of activity, when the reality is tech has always been tightly intertwined with music and media in general.

Ignoring the somewhat condescending title we argue that music careers have become technologized. There is no cut between music / tech, it’s more a question of the subject matter. One person utilizes mechanisms for the distribution of information to sell experiences, and the other develops the platforms themselves. Give an example of one function within the music business that doesn’t depend on the ability to utilise some form of tech.

This is an obvious, somewhat convenient argument we’re making, which compliments the imprecise way the author refers to the “tech industry” – he presumably means entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley, who launch start-ups and ride one-wheeled electric motorcycles.

The points about job choice and availability are fair enough, although again, when you’re talking about the tech sector with a big ‘T’ that’s an easy observation to make. The author mentions a ‘brain drain’ and a ‘lack of incoming talent’. Was the music industry ever about brains? Or was it more about people, and places; connections and collaborations? If the brains were anywhere they were in the creative. It was the mouths that shifted CDs. As for ‘lack of incoming talent’, let’s not go there.

We won’t comment on everything because we encourage you to come to your own conclusions:
  • Does music “rarely influence fashion or lifestyle” nowadays? Has music ‘lost its cool’?
  • If a job in ‘tech’ offers the possibility of ‘wealth so far beyond what the music business can offer’ then does it ‘seem hardly worth the effort’?
  • Is there more freedom in tech? What if you don’t own capital? You’ve got to play along to somebody’s tune.

And finally, who is this guy? Oops, don’t care.

*This isn’t so much of a China-centric entry, more of a backlash at a very unfair and poorly thought-out piece of editorial.

Just as we finish writing this critique, another peer levels his views toward another pulp piece on the ‘death’ of the music industry (that took place 14 years ago) and how TV is a perfect role model of how to adopt to changing times (even though the music industry had the same, albeit lower-profile solutions before). It’s just another uninformed fluff piece written by an author of 8 books on music. Isn’t it amazing how these authors produce works on the industry they’re more than happy to lambast, to an audience that probably doesn’t care?