Oct 08

Murder Of Music Laid To Machines

radio rowJeffrey Veen’s mention of music industry fears discussed during the Web 2.0 conference reminded me of the Sept. 24th episode of Nightline. I think it was entitled “Sharing or Stealing” or “A Happy Medium” (according to the video product summary or transcript purchase page respectively). I feel like I’ve heard the issue rehashed many times from every possible perspective. However what made the Nightline episode particularly interesting to me was the comparison to an earlier crises in the distribution of music in that era’s prevailing medium that caused the industry to see a greater than 90% drop in sales. It happened back when radio row stood in the space that the World Trade Center would eventually occupy. People would flock to those stores to gaze at the shiny new gadgets the way we all go to the Apple store in SoHo every time a new iPod debuts. Radios were considered as big a threat then as our iPods are today. From The New York Times, July 19, 1933pg.20:

Murder Of Music Laid To Machines; Radio, Talking Pictures and Other Mechanical Devices Assailed by Composers. Song Hits Lose Appeal Constant Din of New Melodies Cuts Sales of Sheet Music, Society’s Pamphlet Says.

The era of mechanization is indicted as “the murderer of music” in a pamphlet issued yesterday by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. What has happened to “the lovely art of music” is revealed by charts, which with figures serve as evidence that the talking pictures, radio and the phonograph have “murdered” music, at the same time failing to compensate musical genius adequately …

Not really appropriate, but let’s queue the Buggles just because I like the tune.

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