Musicians these days are complaining that the financial consideration of being a musician has been lost from the equation. Anything that can be digitally recorded; music, art, movies, etc., is now considered free to the public. This digital genie cannot be returned to the bottle and some fear it will do to the music business as a whole what pay for play did to the music scene in Los Angeles.
The last substantial music scene in L.A. was the Sunset Strip Heavy Metal scene back in the Eighties. Guns and Roses emerged from that scene and were the last L.A. band to achieve any national success. That Los Angeles (Hollywood), the capital of entertainment doesn’t have a vibrant national music scene is as shocking as the fact that it doesn’t have a professional football team. At least sports are not threatened by the rise of digital media. Why is that?
The difference between a televised football or basketball game and a CD of music or a recorded rock concert is that the sporting event needs to be viewed in real time. It is not the athletics themselves but the outcome that is the important draw. Sports fans watch games to see how they’ll end. There is only minimal interest in viewing sporting events multiple times as the ending needs to be viewed as it happens. This gives some control over the fans as it is really only the one, the first, televised viewing of a game that means anything to the fan and for that he or she has to pay. After that it can be copied and distributed on YouTube or Facebook or anywhere on the internet but the money on it has already been made.
Perhaps this helps to explain the most successful music event of the digital age; the American Idol television series and its various clones. It is the competition factor of the show, not necessarily the music, that gets viewers addicted. This would also explain the dismal showing of the show’s winners in the world of music beyond the program. For the amount of talent and the sometimes painful and laborious judging process, not to mention the massive amount of exposure and popularity the competing contestants receive, the show has produced a shockingly low percentage of American Idol professional entertainers.
Once a winner of a season of American Idol has been announced the interest in that winner is automatically shifted to the next season’s competition, not the new winner’s career. Perhaps this example can offer us a remedy to the problems of the music business as a whole. Maybe musicians need to introduce a competition element to their careers. An example might be to release compilation CDs together with the fans who purchased the CD being able to vote for their favorite track or act. Or start a Las Vegas style music book on a particular CD release where fans can bet on such things as; how many tracks on the CD, how many ballads as opposed to rockers, which song will most fans choose as the best or the single or the CD’s release date.
If music is now suppose to be free then making the purchase of a CD or a digital music download could simply be the ticket to another addictive vice. Let the games begin.