Thursday, December 21, 2006

On Music

The history of Music is a history of class struggle.

Considering the various artistic mediums, music is the most advanced to a post-capitalist position of the bunch. Film and Theatre are following. My prediction is that music and film will reach a plateau and theatre will surpass them.

My evidence that music is most developed into post-capitalism is that indie rock industry is growing at the same time that the mainstream music recording industry is shrinking. A while ago new technology made rock n roll incredibly popular and gave music a head start to post capitalism. The capitalist recording industry usurped and manipulated early rock n roll, and also shifted the distribution of music from live performances to records. Making it a commodity where the technology of mass production and the capitalist need for mass consumption matched up and flourished. Since then there has been a constant struggle within the medium of music, a struggle between authenticity and exploitation.

Innovative music comes out, is appropriated by the recording industry, becomes obese and stale, soon replaced by a new innovation. That's the cycle, and by the time we got to punk rock, the cycle was moving so rapidly that it played it self out within a single decade. New wave followed, then hip hop, and finally grunge arrived. Grunge's entire aesthetic and purpose was authenticity over exploitation, like Hegel's Idea, Grunge was the music innovator's self-aware attempt to buck the recording industry once and for all. It failed, but it did strike a hole in the armor of capitalism, and with the rise of new technology, ie the Internet and MP3's indie rock has poured through that hole and is dissolving the entire music industry.

The RIAA can try to enforce copyright laws all they want, but the fact of the matter is, you can't make something that is naturally free cost money for very long. If the pirates don't get you, the competition will. Why should i buy a Blink 182 record when i can get free downloads of real punk rock off the Internet? This doesn't mean the death of music, only the death of the record industry. Mechanical reproduction shifted the vehicle of music from live performance to records. Virtual reproduction is going to devalue art commodities to such a point that the shift will go back to live performance.

When we all have free access to movies and music three things will happen.

1. budgets will shrink, the quality of recorded music, and the promotion of that music will decline.
2. rock stars will go extinct. things will level off. we'll have many more medium-size stars and no more super-stars
3. audiences will have more money and time to invest in artistic experiences instead of artistic products.

it'll result in us living in a world where the best music is coming to us from small touring bands playing in small clubs before small crowds and putting on great performances, either through theatrics, charisma, or raw energy.

By the time music reaches this point, film as a medium will be outputting small, low budget art films only, and theatre will be increasingly popular and important.

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