James Governor's Monkchips

Does This Guy Even Like Music? Where is The Love?

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So I am reading this blog by Rags Gupta about The New, New Music Industry wondering where is the love? It seems to be written from the perspective of someone so caught up in thinking about business models they don’t think about music. The piece doesn’t mention a single band, or tune. The analysis is quite solid, but it seems to fall into the Studying Music Institutions rather than Music trap, just called out by John Battelle. I mean hasn’t anyone else noticed that as the music industry whines louder and louder the quality of music is also trending up to 11. In the UK there are tons of great new bands – at least a couple of which are now delivering their “difficult second albums”. But the Kooks, The Shins, The Kaiser Chiefs, The View, Bloc Party, the Fratellis, Arctic Monkeys, maybe The Automatic (certainly what’s that coming over the hill? is a classic). There is a also a lot of really great music coming out of the United States. But for me the highlights of the year are hopefully/likely going to be the new albums from Kaiser Chiefs and Arctic Monkeys. Razorlight suck a fair amount but they’re going be even more huge than they already are (the music is anthemic, the boy wears a mean no shirt). If the music industry is so necessary for more great music in future… the same argument incidentally we hear for software patents, and copyrighted movies and books beyond 70 years, then how come bands are coming out of nowhere at a time when music industry budgets are being slashed? It seems to me there is an inversion here… great bands are possibly mushrooming because, not in spite of, current music industry travails. Nobody says people wouldn’t write more great poetry without a profit motive. Do you think Alexander Solzhenitzyn writes for the money? Why do we accept this argument so readily for other arts? ART IS THE HUMAN CONDITION. Industries then mine that creativity. Remember when artists would turn around at the end of their lives having not made a penny from their recordings? That wasn’t so long ago. Its still happening. You can’t tell me the Barrett brothers didn’t contribute heavily to the Marley sound (52 kids and he still got stiffed).
I don’t have anything against Rags, I just felt the piece was on point but dry. Why do I love reading Fred Wilson so much? His anti-DRM techniques are unstoppable, but more importantly, he really frigging loves the music. His latest tip – Modest Mouse.


  1. The issues with the music industry is very similar to that of the web itself. Everything is based on trust, which has been corrupted and saturated. No musician has a chance that doesn’t acknowledge the “traditional” musical avenues simply because those who end up having the power to produce only do so for artists/labels/booking agents/publicists/etc. they trust.

    This is somewhat the impetus behind Digg, YouTube and Wikipedia. Each respective site chose to give power to the users in order to gain the trust of users.

    While one could argue that those who care about the industry do so at the loss of integrity, yet, I doubt you will see a traditional artist find success without going to art school and making an effort to publicize his/her own work. In some ways, this is a shame because there are most likely plenty of great artists (musical and otherwise) who fall by the wayside simply because they don’t say, “look at me!” loud enough.

    But one could also argue that those willing to produce quality music (or anything semi-creative) will not have a problem producing a quality image and message to both the industry and the audience.

    I suppose I don’t have a major point to make here, but rather that as an artist my self (http://umemusic.com I have to say “listen up” too), I consider understanding the industry a huge part of being a musician.

  2. Your comments on music are bang on. I’ve become a huge fan of indi-music due to the new music distribution models. There is really no reason that a white, highly educated, suburban dwelling tech analyst like myself should be a fan of the nascent hip-hop scene in Edmonton Alberta. But there you go.

    My new status as an indi-music snob is due to two things: online music distribution and the (formerly) very stodgy institution of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). CBC Radio 3 aggressively supports Canadian independent music and its online radio station and weekly podcast are fantastic.

    I have to agree with Fred Wilson. Modest Mouse and The Arcade Fire (from Montreal) are great. I encourage you to check out some other great Canadian indi talent like Wolf Parade, K’Naan, Cadence Weapon, and Born Ruffians. Better yet, just check out CBC Radio 3.

    There’s my shill for the day [Disclaimer: CBC is not a client]. But I am a Canadian tax payer…

  3. Just a small point of clarification…

    The Shins are an American band and currently hail from the great city or Portland, Oregon!

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