I find it really sad when musicians, particularly musicians who I respect, seem to misunderstand just how good things are for music at the moment. The stranglehold of the (major) labels is coming to an end and the Internet is making it easier for talent to find a market.
Aimee Mann gave these responses in a Guardian G2 interview last week...
G2: What's the greatest threat to music?
Aimee Mann: Music downloads and CD burning. If music is free, then the only people who can afford to make it are narcissistic jackasses who will do anything for attention.
I think its insulting to assume that all those people who have been happy to buy records for years will suddenly stop paying for it because they can download it - those same people who carried on buying records when they could tape it off their mates or off the radio. We do understand that it costs to make music and if we're not being cheated or treated like thieves then we're happy to keep on paying for it. If anything I buy more music now than I have ever done - I still download stuff illegally sometimes but I will always pay for anything I think is worth paying for. The Internet is the best exposure an act can have and to blame illegal downloads as a threat to the music industry is ridiculous. And CD burning? Really? CDs will be a thing of the past - nothing I download (legally or illegally) ever makes it onto a CD - there's just no point. People will be listening to the music they download in many ways but over the next few years but I'm sure they will be listening to less and less of it on CDs.
G2: Is the internet a good thing for music?
Aimee Mann: It's good for information, but pages like MySpace turn everyone into a musician, almost all of them terrible. It's as if people think there are bundles of money lying around, when actually becoming a musician is a drastic choice.
And then you suggest that we are unable to discern good from bad? Come on Aimee that's just stupid! More people making music is a good thing - people who didn't have the money and opportunity before have that chance now - it's a good thing. I can't bear to even start to think of all the talented musicians who we never hear of because they spend their lives doing shitty jobs because making it in the music industry was less about talent and more about luck and wealth.
Just because there's so much crap on MySpace doesn't mean that the good stuff will get lost. The Internet isn't just a place to get music - it's a place to discover music. Social networking sites make finding music easier than it was 15 years ago...we have recommendation engines and "friends" and podcasts and personal radio stations throwing music our way. The good music will make it and more and more good music will make it.
Maybe there is a problem that with more music and still the same amount of disposable income the money will spread a little thinner - but as a consumer of music that has to be a good thing - and when the record labels stop sucking money (and creativity) out of music then that disposable income will go a little further.
Is the Internet a good thing for music? Bloody right it is - don;t be afraid of it - use it...