Shadow's Technophobia

Interesting journal entry by DJ Shadow re: Internet's impact on music. In short, sounds like he feels like the internet is trying to take away his choice to release music as a paid product, criticizing the social pressure to release music as free.

I never really thought about it like that, 'cause I never saw the internet like TV (as Shadow compares it). I don't buy the argument that the internet is a mind numbing force that homogenizes those that it touches - although I do think there are new hypersocial forces emerging whose effects no one really understands yet.

xbeethovenx (not verified) says:

I was really interested by his e-mail as well. LOOK FORWARD TO DISCUSSING IT TONIGHT!

3_leet (not verified) says:

Didn't the record industry homogenize music by acting as a filter? The more mass acceptability you had the greater you get promoted, and the more wealthy you became. Artist's who were different have always had a more difficult time.

Before the record industry I imagine that the odds of making money as a musician were greater, because live performances were all that was available. But your chance of becoming famous was much smaller, because communicating was so much harder.

Music used to be solely a type of performance art. Once music became a reproducible commodity independent of its performer, it became subject to the same market forces of every other technical good. Which is give the best quality at the lowest price, in this case, free.

The nice thing is, that even if the internet kills the recording as a commodity, it can't kill music as performance art. Over the long term, people will tire of listening to the same things and seek out new performances.

But don't worry, because music as a commodity will survive, the record industry is just still reeling from the losses it induced from the market change to from selling physical to electronic media. Their new business model of online sales has great potential for success (how about including some B-Sides with the popular singles?), but since they have been operating under a "unproven" business model they've taken a very conservative stance on funding and promoting artists that are risky sales candidates.

Will there be a next Jay-z? Probably, elimination of physical media and better encryption on electronic music will severely limit piracy, and profitability will return to the music commodity. The music industry will comb the social sites on the internet looking for their next talent. The real question is, will the music industry ever take a risk on promoting an artist who doesn't already have a minimum 10,000 person fan base on myspace, regardless of the aural quality of their work...

3_leet (not verified) says:

...the only saving grace is that the internet and modern computer technology provides musicians with the means to record, produce, and publicize music completely independent of a record company. Want to sell and album? Record it, get some server space, a paypal account and start promoting it on facebook. Hard work, yes, but without the internet, this option would not exist. Hey you even get to keep the rights to your music!

zirafa says:

Interesting point to bring up re: fame + profit. They are assumed to be so tightly linked, that fame brings profit. But this is not necessarily the case, eh?

It raises the question of what "success" means and how it is measured.

I doubt record labels will continue trying to encrypt music to control it. Most indicators show the opposite is true, ala iTunes abandoning DRM. Trying to control digital content seems like a pretty futile task. But people are lazy and WILL pay for delivered content. Even though most music is free, there is probably a price point where 99% of people would pay to avoid the hassle of finding it. A finder's fee? A "filter" fee? A DJ?

And people will pay for shared live experiences. Fans want to go to a show, be at the party, it's just not the same to watch a bootleg video the day after. Ya can't digitize a real-life experience (yet).

And that's just the beginning, we are still thinking in the old ways...I'm sure there are new ways and strategies and revenue streams just waiting to be discovered...like for instance a "sound bite" - maybe some sort of food item you buy that comes bundled with a 10 second sound sample. "Purchase of Donut includes Li'l Wayne's latest remix." Imma copyright that idea.

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