Saturday morning quotes 5.7: Two Princes and a Pope
All things are connected. Please remember that maxim as you read ahead and wonder what today’s quotations have to do with early music. Please keep in mind that today’s unsustainable business model is killing real professional musicians and artists and replacing them with well-financed amateurs. Please read and heed, lest your choices of what concert to attend or which recording artist you may enjoy will be seriously limited and reduced to performances by part-time amateurs who can afford to play at their art, instead of performances by creative artists who produce expressive results because they live their art.
How did it come to this?
On his blog the Trichordist, David Lowery reports on the multifarious ways musicians are subjected to the ploys and schemes of tech companies who specialize in monetizing music and sidestepping the awkward business of paying artists. In a recent post, Lowery points out the generational differences between what he calls the “Punk” generation and “Millennials.” Lowery believes the Punk generation was willing to be confrontational in order to point out society’s errant ways, and Millennials are only interested in free stuff.
To be fair, the attitudes and defining cultural characteristics of Millennials reflect the norms established—or more likely not established—by their parents, who very well may have been of the Punk generation. Millennials want things to be free because at some crucial moment of educational opportunity regarding respect and honesty, their parents shrugged and said, “Whatever. Pirate what you like, just don’t get caught. And give me some of it too ’cause I’m still cooler than you think.”
Since the advent of the Media Age we have had more than a few generations raised in a culture of hyper-consumerism, banking on promoting envy and breeding discontent among those unable to afford the necessary “look” and the expensive toys and accessories. To make matters worse, in Millennials, we see a distinct absence of manners because their moms and dads were just too busy playing with their own toys and accessories to take the time to teach their children respect and common courtesy.
As a garnish to this bitter stew, we suffer from the fetid stench of the amoral and soulless new media, Google-Youtube and the hateful MyFace, barking to the world exactly what is the nature of reality and truth—and where you can download it for free. It’s no wonder no one wants to pay for music when we have young people with no manners eagerly doing whatever Google says. It’s all about examples.
Professional writer Alan Graham assures us that the music business is not the only area affected by an unsustainable business model.
“Musicians and songwriters have it tough these days, but ask any writer and they’ll tell you they aren’t surprised at their plight. Writers have been experiencing it for the past 15 years, and I expect if what happened to writing is any indication of how bad it can get, then musicians are in for some very lean times.”
“…Business models have ensured that we’ll never again get the best writers out there or the same quality reporting, but only those people who can churn out tons of disposable product that editors will then exploit with every clickable trick they can think of. That is until the machines start doing it even faster and cheaper…”
Professional musicians who read these words will perceive that the writing on the wall amounts to a collective obituary.
In the compact fiefdom of early music, we live in an unprotected microcosm that is highly reactive to current cultural norms and economic trends. The serious early music professional pursuing a viable career today is like the harmless hummingbird, alert and darting here and there seeking sustenance and opportunity. Comparatively, the world of pop music rides like a Humvee taking a spin through the woods, smashing all the wildflowers and crushing the very life out of everything in its path. But even pop artists of today are seriously affected by the new business model. To elucidate, we check in with the first of our Princes.
“We made money [online] before piracy was real crazy…Nobody’s making money now except phone companies, Apple and Google…It’s like the gold rush out there. Or a carjacking. There’s no boundaries.”
“I personally can’t stand digital music. You’re getting sound in bits. It affects a different place in your brain. When you play it back, you can’t feel anything. We’re analogue people, not digital.”
– Prince (the pop star)
Moving ahead to the words of our second Prince, we read noble observations on our new business model:
“…The irresistible power of ‘business as usual’ has so far defeated every attempt to ‘rewire’ our economic system in ways that will deliver what we so urgently need”.
“The challenge now is to go much further and much faster, progressively eliminating waste by developing a circular economy that mimics nature’s loops and cycles, rather than perpetuating our largely unsustainable and linear way of doing things…”
– Prince Charles speaking at University of Cambridge’s Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL)
Finally, we quote Pope Francis from Laudato Si, his encyclical on climate change and the environment, Thursday 18 June 2015.
“Real relationships with others, with all the challenges they entail, now tend to be replaced by a type of internet communication which enables us to choose or eliminate relationships at whim, thus giving rise to a new type of contrived emotion which has more to do with devices and displays than with other people and with nature.”
“The environment is one of those goods that cannot be adequately safeguarded or promoted by market forces…”
“We may well be leaving to coming generations debris, desolation and filth. The pace of consumption, waste and environmental change has so stretched the planet’s capacity that our contemporary lifestyle, unsustainable as it is, can only precipitate catastrophes, such as those which even now periodically occur in different areas of the world. The effects of the present imbalance can only be reduced by our decisive action, here and now.”
It is heartening to know that Pope Francis, who occupies a position of some influence, agrees with our point of view. Perhaps he may even consider restoring the position of lutenist to the papal household…