All due respect for Dave Kusek, I have his book "The Future of Music" and I love it. But this time, with his "Cycles in Music" presentation, I'll take issue. By the way, If you learn anything new from this video below, drop me a note.
So he makes a point that music started out being free, then goes through all the changes technology has lead us to, and concludes that the future is bright for artist-based management companies that look after the interests of their artists. This is all perfectly fine, but what if artists do not want to be managers? How do we cut through to listeners if we wanted to stay away from giants like iTMS or middlemen like the distributors?
People are still educated that downloading content (especially when not buying it) is bad, and at the same time major record labels pump tons of mediocre product in our direction, all dressed-up in name-checks, cross-references, and endorsements. As the values of music production diminish, fuelled by user-centric/taste-agent services (which screams middle of the road at best, myspace at worst), so does perception of music's importance. Up to the point of, "Yeah, everyone can make music nowadays" Really?
This might be a great time to be in the music industry, but not as an artist.. or maybe if you don't expect to make any money back from it. It contradicts the western notion of time being the equivalent of money, because an artist will put in their time but will probably get nothing in return for it. Because the difference between then and now is, there are now no patrons. I, for one, cannot say if consumers will become the new patrons, or it will just go free for all, and we'll all do music as a hobby. (good time to check out Nokia: Comes with Music)
I do however know that there are tons of good music being produced and not being released. I know that because I have to nudge my friends to send me tunes they otherwise only keep to themselves. In the meantime, Dave Kusek is a manager, also a vice president of a music college, technology developer, writer, and consultant. From where he stands, it's ever so easy to say 'It's a great time to be in the music industry'. But to me this is not a presentation about the future of music. This is a presentation about the future of the music business, which is an entirely different thing. How about really standing at the artist's end of the chain, pondering over the idea that kids are your target group, that your product is free, that your work of art is consumed rather than enjoyed, and that none of this stops everyday life draining your pockets? Then talk to me about the future of music.
P.S. I expect the 'live/gigs' argument to be tossed at me at first opportunity. I dare you to stop listening to recorded music if you're all about performing.