The Re-Humanization of Music
Music piracy, as we all know, is the sole reason for the downfall of the Big Label Music Industry™, right? Those damn kids with the BitTorrents and the WiFi’s, P2Peeing all over my lawn like they own the place. They don’t value music at all anymore, so musicians will have to earn their living selling shirts or with a side job. Right?
My industry, like many right now, suffers from one major source of adversity: De-humanization. For twenty to forty years “stars” had been bred as an image of an elite icon, something above the rest of us. Rock stars are whisked away after the gig into a locked bunker where only the VIP’s are let in. Rap stars drive Bentleys made of solid gold, at least according to all of their videos. Country stars are driven to the Nipper’s Corner Starbucks in a Hummer limousine, yet are expected to sing the ballad of the blue-collar working man.
When the peak of “legitimacy” in your industry is to become an icon so far removed from reality, you rob the entire process of its humanity.
It’s something like the tale of Icarus from Greek mythology. The larger-than-life images are like wax wings, taking the industry higher as the fantasy appeals to the buying public. Soon thereafter, the perception of music itself changes: Regular human beings don’t make this stuff, rock stars do. There’s no emotional or personal connection with the human being that made that album on that torrent site, so it’s much easier to download it without feeling guilty. The human being simply isn’t perceived as a part of the process anymore.
The wax wings just took the industry so high that they melted under the heat of reality.
At the heart of all creations- music, textiles, cars, websites -there is a human being burning calories and sweating to make it happen. There always has been. We don’t value music or toasters or plumbing nearly as much as we value each other. This new world of new media has made it so much easier for fans to connect with the artists they love. Maybe we can still be larger than life, just not so far above it that our own hubris brings us down again.
The only thing that will save the music industry- and any industry, to be honest -is a focus on re-humanization. Less of the factory-farmed processes and more of a real, personal “I made this” approach. Everyone loves a fantasy, but as any geek living in their mother’s basement can attest, eventually you must connect with other human beings as a human being.
People, at least in this life, are more valuable than anything else.