Monday, October 29, 2007

The future of internet music?

Going back Cook's view of industrialism in making music, I am beginning to think that that model is starting to change or is at least becoming significantly modified. And that has to do with the influence of the Internet.

Our motivation for making careers is first of all to earn money in order to be able to live. In order to make money, we need to participate in a capitalist society. However, I think the connection between industrialism and making money is becoming weaker and weaker.

The Internet has really turned everything on its head, and when we think about the future of classical music and how it will be influenced by the Internet, just thinking in terms of a greatly increased means of distribution is not enough.

The stockpiling of labor used to be a laborious process. First, it was through hand-made items. Then, it was through mass production by the industry. Now, it is simply through an internet protocol. One copy of one file on one server can be sent to any computer connected to the internet that chooses to view it, creating a number of copies equal to the number of computers that choose to access it. Thus, while handmade items are expensive and mass-produced items cheap, Internet content is free. And the very nature of music, so ephemeral that it is able to be stored in an abstract file on a computer, ties it inseparably to the Internet. This, of course, pits a musician's need to make money at odds with the nature of Internet distribution (free, and there is no non-artificial way to make any Internet download transaction cost money).

And the very nature of making money off of the Internet is now different. Instead of exchanging money for goods, it is now influence and popularity that determine how much money is made on the Internet. For instance, take Google, Facebook, Youtube, etc. Because of the sheer volume of users who visit those sites, those companies are able to leverage ad purchases and other things I don't even understand.

If the financial motivation for making music were gone, it would be detrimental to the quality of music that is available. We would be back to a society of amateur music makers. Youtube particularly fosters an amateur music making community, as I was saying in the reply to I'm thinking's post. However, there is the belief in a capitalist society that if you are excellent, you will be recognized and rewarded, and Youtube especially provides a gigantic user base for democratic evaluation of performances. This creates an interesting question of how one might be able to leverage popularity for one's career in the future.

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