Here we go again: controversy about the value of music in the Internet age. This time, it started with a blog by a young NPR intern entitled “I Never Owned Any Music to Begin With,” and spiraled into webwide debate in which everyone from industry pundits to rock stars to the New York Times chimed in on the future of music consumption.
Of course, this is all a re-tread of a decade-old fight pitting proponents of free Internet culture against “old-school holdouts” criticized as clinging to obsolete business models. But it’s more complicated than that. Devaluation of music doesn’t just erode the middle class of musicians, it has farreaching implications, extending into music education and even product development.
I’m not saying the existing system works. Nor am I suggesting that artists are entitled to anything just because they create something. But I do believe that if someone wants to enjoy an artist’s work, he or she should pay for it. And given that we’re not anywhere near a “perfect” solution, musicians need to embrace the current reality and find new paths to success. In our “Survival of the Artist” feature, we share advice from innovative musicians like Amanda Palmer and Wayne Coyne as well as perspectives from music supervisors, band managers, and leaders at companies like Spotify and Pandora that are redefining the way we access music.
What are your new tools for success? We’d love to hear from you; we’re all in this together.