The Decentralization of the Music Industry

For the last few years I’ve been wondering about the Internet’s impact on the music industry, specifically what will happen to cash-cow national acts when the Internet empowers more independent and regional artists. If more people are using MySpace and iTunes to check out music based on word of mouth and their own ears, rather than the tastemaking churn of radio/MTV/magazines, then those tastemakers will be at a loss for words. How can they generate a buzz nationally about the latest hip new band when they can’t get everyone to listen to it?

As the first potential proof for this suspicion, I give you this terrifically lost and confused MTV roundtable discussion on SXSW at All the writers involved seem genuinely saddened at the lack of any individual “It Band” at SXSW.

Plink, plink…do you hear that? That’s the sound of the world’s tiniest violin. Cry me a f*cking river, MTV.

Here’s hoping that 2007 gave us a bellwether SXSW and the days of the “It Band” are numbered. Maybe music fans will start listening to what they like because it’s what they like, not because some pretentious weasel at MTV or Spin or Clear Channel decided to orchestrate a “buzz” campaign.

By far the best comment was from writer James Montgomery:

“I’m struck by how all these points we’re making about the festival are also completely interchangeable for the music industry. I was struck by how it’s like a microcosm of all the problems the industry is facing now: It’s too big, there’s too much to see out there, you have no idea what’s going to be big, it’s too splintered, there are too many ways of consuming music.”

Buddy, if too much music is your idea of a problem, start looking for a new career. The music scene should be big and splintered and not easily digestible. This will make it easier to weed out the generic bands that the industry chooses to foist upon us. I guess it might be difficult for casual listeners to choose, but I’m sure they’ll be OK with whatever comes their way. Lord knows they are entirely too contented with the crap they’re listening to now.

2 thoughts on “The Decentralization of the Music Industry”

  1. i couldn’t agree with you more.

    i was going to elaborate on that statement, but you’d already said everything i wanted to say about it so, just–i couldn’t agree more!

  2. I like that in the first couple paragraphs of the article, they include this paragraph promoting one of their “It Bands”:

    (Didn’t make it to SXSW? See the Stooges, Lily Allen and many more tear it up in Austin.)

    As the author of this blog knows, for her show at Stubbs (of which they’re showing clips of on MTV), Lily Allen came out 15 minutes late to her set, left 15 minutes early, and complained that she wasn’t really into singing her most popular song. Now while she’s very talented as was entertaining for the 20 minutes she was out there, her performance was far from “tearing it up”. But she’s obviously someone they’re invested in, so who cares if they’re being dishonest about her performance?

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