The Devaluation Of The Arts

David Byrne-photo by Ron BakerI have been saying for quite a while that live music and more specifically new original music has become passe in this techno world where everything is at our fingertips - literally through the myriad devices that connect us to the world wide web- and most of it for free or very cheap. This is just one man's opinion and as such holds little weight. But, there are those with a larger voice who share this view and one of them is David Byrne. Now if you are under 30 years old that name might be unrecognizable to you, but he's been around the music business long enough to see the trends and understand the consequences of the direction in which things have moving. While no super star himself, he has been a  very successful writer, performer and producer so has had a view from all angles and seen and felt first hand the effects of living in the new digital society. Rather than trying speak for him, it makes more sense for me to allow you to hear what David has to say about all of this in his own words. So, if you have the time and are interested,  read for yourself.

I feel compelled to do something to alter what seems like a course headed for disaster but honestly, I don't even know where to begin. And who's to say that this is not the way it is supposed to be and I would merely be meddling with destiny, fate or the inevitable? A good question no doubt and one I cannot answer, for my feeling is the world cannot lose the gifts of artistic creation without suffering some consequences both seen and unseen. Perhaps it will be a case like that expressed in the lyrics from Joni Mitchell's "Big Yellow Taxi" which say " Don't it always seem to go, you don't know what you've got till it's gone..." I wonder if Joni could have seen this coming? (and yes, I get the irony of providing you with a song I got for free from youtube)

Have a look.As long as we are happy to consume for free or at severely-discounted prices what others have labored to create not just for our enjoyment, but to support their own livelihood, then we effectively seal the fate of all but a few who manage to stay afloat in such a business structure. The new saying in the music business is " Don't go into it to make money" which means the devaluation reality has already begun to permeate the minds of many who choose to stay in the creative fields despite the trends.  For now we should count ourselves fortunate that there are those still willing to create regardless of the payoff. One day however, it may be very difficult to find many willing to give their heart and soul and time to something that offers little or nothing in return.

It's not all doom and gloom admittedly. If you have a warm cup of coffee and an hour or so of time on your hands, listen to this radio talk show from WHYY on the subject for a closer look by some people who know more than I do about this subject. Despite the positive spin they put on things, I believe locally the perception in the minds of those who create, at least the opinions that I have heard personally, not just from musicians but from those in other art forms is that the odds seem stacked against them and the consumers seem less and less interested in paying what the artists are asking and more apt to find the cheapest way to have what they desire. It may be just another form of survival of the fittest and wiser for me to let it run its course, but I am not ready to sit silently on the sidelines just yet, though as I said earlier, I am still pondering just what kind of effort I can make and what the actual impact might be? Back to pondering... more later maybe.