If Dirt Were Dollars
Will Collier takes Don Henley to task for saying artists need governmental intervention to protect them theft of their intellectual property and the consolidation of the industry into a handful of congolomerates.
AAAHHHHNT! Wrong answer, Don! Would you care to try ‘Singers Who Don’t Know How Pretentious They Are’ for $500?
Look, Henley’s right about a few things here. The music industry, as we’ve known it for all of our lives, is dying. Their economic model doesn’t work any more, their product (at least the product the major labels are pushing) has fatal quality control problems (i.e., it’s mostly horrible), and radio sucks like an Electrolux.
But the solution is not to try and get the government to magically turn the clock back to 1977. A regulatory approacy to popular entertainment wouldn’t work even if Henley could convince the Feds to try it.
Don, old man, you and your pals are going to have to give up the crutch of the record companies and the radio stations and learn to be entrepreneurs. I know you don’t like that idea; it was much easier when somebody from Asylum was there to pay the studio bills and ship out the albums, but those days are going the way of vinyl.
What’s the evidence for this? Are there a lot of garage bands making it big in the music industry? Don’t all of the artists that are atop the Billboard charts have record labels behind them? (Although none with Asylum.)
Stephen Green also weighed in on Henley’s piece:
Henley is right — to a point. The problem isn’t the artists or the internet or the fans. Or even mergers. The problem is records aren’t worth buying anymore.
When was the last time — other than Ken Layne & The Corvids — you willingly plunked down full retail price for a new album by a new artist and enjoyed even a simple majority of the tracks?
When was the last time you even sat down and just listened to an entire new album, instead of using it for background music while doing something else?
No matter how many good singles a new artist puts out, for me they remain suspect. I’ve just bought too many records now with two good cuts and a lot of bad filler.
My guess, Steve old buddy, is the problem is less with the decreasing quality of records than the increasing number of years since our initial birthdays. I’ve got something like 400 CDs and an equivalent number of prerecorded cassettes in my collection. I bought almost all of them between 1982 and 1995 or so. This despite the fact that the cost of an average album has plumetted in real terms and my income has skyrocketed. I own no albums by an artist with a single currently in the top 30 and, sadly, have never heard of a few of them.
There’s also the little matter of the ability to get free mp3s through such file “sharing” platforms as Napster, AudioGalaxy, and Kazaa that we enjoyed for several years before the RIAA started suing everyone and making people reluctant to put files up for transfer. Much like the ability to get lots of information for free on the Internet has made people reluctant to pay for it–getting indignant about having to give so much as thirty seconds worth of demographic information–we now have the idea that it’s Don Henley’s fault that he can’t figure out how to make a living selling one album and having everyone else share electronic copies of it.