For anyone interested in this kind of thing (UFO stories that discount the idea of aliens etc... ), take a read into the back story of Alexander Weygers. He was a polymath who patented an invention called a 'disc copter' in 1945 ( about 5 years before the phrase "flying saucer became popular"). There is a gentleman who has an art gallery down the street from my house who is probably the premier "expert" on the back story of this guy. I was lucky enough to apply for a web assistant gig there hence he told me the entire back story over the course of an hour and gave me a tour of some of the original art he has from Weygers. To make a long story short Weygers use to live in Carmel California and was a builder, artist, inventor etc. He invented this "Disc Copter" invention and his students said that "Men in black suits" would visit him during the course of their mentoring sessions; and when they did Weygers refused to talk much about it. Look him up. This documentary looks good btw.
It would be like you giving me an inaccurate description of something based on someone else's report, and me mangling your description into something that just happened to be very much like the original. It's not impossible, but you'd have to be pretty optimisic to call it remotely plausible.
I heard a radio show recently where the host mentioned a study in the 50's where people were asked what rabbits and dogs had in common, and the answers were usually something along the line of "they both have two ears". The same question was asked some time in the 2000's and the more common answers relied on abstraction like " they are both mammals". I'm not sure if that is reflective of a shift in "intelligence" but I do think it's a shift in thinking.
Jaron Lanier has a great contrarian view of this where he points out that he went on a research project to find musicians that became independently wealthy in the 'internet age' and that he basically couldn't find any. The most he could find were a handful of people that made enough to buy a house - and that was the top of the pyramid. All the stories he found turned out to be fabricated by trust fund kids or claims by musicians that had had their initial career boost in the 'old' system.
There's a clip on Youtube of him talking about it but I can't remember which one it is. Anyway the jist of his view is that in the long term much of it actually isn't sustainable.
I used to get the Baffler, and I read that Albin article years ago. The Internet didn't help, although there was one band in the first dot-com boom that tried to IPO. (Whatever happened to them?)
What happened next was that the technology got so cheap that anybody could record. Then came AutoTune, and anyone could sing. Then laptop bands. At one point Myspace had something over 10 million bands registered. A few of them probably didn't suck.
"Being in a band" just isn't a big deal any more. This is a return to the historical norm. Historically, most musicians ranked below bartenders socially. The "rock star" era existed only because, for a few decades, the economics of marketing, stamping out and distributing phonograph records in volume favored bulk sales of a modest number of titles. A limited number of radio stations also created a mass market. That's over.
The people behind AutoTune (http://www.antarestech.com) have a whole range of products now, including automatic sing-along and vocal tract models. It's quite possible that musicianship will go the way of calligraphy.
> What happened next was that the technology got so cheap that anybody could record.
Stanislaw Lem wrote about this in the '60's. He predicted that "cybernetics" and democracy would allow the number of creators to increase enormously, but posited that the number of actual "geniuses" was small, fixed, and already almost exhausted within the current artistic community. Therefore the signal (great art) would get lost in the noise (junk produced because it could be.)
There are issues with this view--it assumes that great art is an objectively real phenomenon rather than a contingent social creation, amongst other things--but a brief perusal of Amazon's e-book offerings makes it hard to argue that the rate of creation has vastly outpaced the quality of creation. I daresay the same has happened with regard to music.
The great unsolved problem of the new era is criticism. Critics (who may have simply been record company flacs) acted as gatekeepers who allowed only material of a certain quality through. It may not have been the "best" by some standards, but it usually met some basic threshold of technical quality, which is more than can be said for the current era.
I recall reading a claim that during the early rock era, labels where run by old guys that would basically do short runs of singles and see if they sold. If they did they would get hold of the band or solo artist that pitched the demo and make some more.
But then came a generational change, where new execs were hired that believed they knew what good music was. And so there was much more of a filter between hopeful bands and the masses.
Now the filer seems to have gone away, in a massive sense. Now anyone with a computer have theoretically global reach.
One thing that did happen during the Sixties was some music of an unusual or experimental nature did get recorded or did get released. Now look at who the executives were in those companies at those times. Not hip young guys. These were cigar-chomping old guys who looked at the product that came and said, ‘I don’t know. Who knows what it is. Record it. Stick it out. If it sells, alright.’ We were better off with those guys than we are now with the supposedly hip young executives who are making the decisions of what people should see and hear in the marketplace. The young guys are more conservative and more dangerous to the art form than the old guys with the cigars ever were. [...]
> Anyway the jist of his view is that in the long term much of it actually isn't sustainable.
Define "sustainable"...No, you (probably) aren't going to become wealthy JUST creating/performing music. But saying that just because you're not wealthy means you do not have a sustainable way of life is incorrect at best. There are plenty of musicians who make a good living at music. They're not rolling in dough, but it's enough to live in a nice neighborhood and support a wife and children. To me, that's a textbook definition of "sustainable". Personally, if I can make enough money with my music to do that, I'll consider that a success.
From what I remember of the talk he was saying that when musicians had royalties at least there was some kind of income in the backdrop so musicians didn't have to literally 'sing for every supper'. He then paralleled that with other digital goods, to contrast to where current trends are taking us. All this was mentioned coupled with his view that having a real middle class en mass means having a strong formal economy yet much of the informal economy is how many musicians ( and other creatives ) make their money. He topped it off with saying that the informal economy is what the "third world" is trying to get away from and basically that if we don't come up with a better structure we are headed in the wrong direction. So it isn't about just making money. It's about having structure to maintain social order.
Basically the context of the talk was much broader and unless you see it for yourself my interpretation will not do it justice.
Agreed. I go into work day in and day out and the best I can reasonably hope for is that I will continue to do so for several more decades. For better or worse, most people have to work many hours a week for many weeks per year for many years in a continual process in order to make a living. Also, lots of "products" (as in the results of work) that I'd consider very worthwhile such as music, visual art, educated students, clean streets, well-prepared food, and general public health often require a lot of work for relatively little pay. In terms of ideals I might find this unfortunate but in terms of reality, economics will often have the last word.
Coulton also had some first-mover advantage with his thing-a-week model which got press because of its originality (as opposed to the quality of his music).
Not to take away from the quality of his music, which is really good (I have a few on my playlists), but there were also plenty of other very good musicians that tried thing-a-week and didn't break through.
His thing a week experiment led to (I believe) a fairly stable touring career, a yearly cruise with a great lineup of musicians and entertainers, and some serious connections in the music industry. The geek press from the thing a week experiment obviously helped, but you don't get that far in pop rock music without some great pop songs, and Coulton's got those in spades.
"... went on a research project to find musicians that became independently wealthy in the 'internet age' and that he basically couldn't find any. ... in the long term much of it actually isn't sustainable. ..."
* Attention is scarce. There's lots of competition for it.
* Revenue sources are scarcer. People expect to pay less (or not pay) for recordings than they used to. Part of this is because the industry dropped the ball and let non-blessed outlets set expectations. But that by itself would be manageable -- under a pay-for-recording system with loose digital restrictions, people might be able to get a hold of free music, but they know the difference between being patrons and mooches, and some critical mass that likes what they hear will choose the former. Streaming services make this fuzzier, and buffet streaming services like Spotify could actually outright kill this: they aim not to replace radio but recording collections in general (and replace recording revenue with fractional stream plays that are orders of magnitude smaller). But they make users think they're participating patrons.
* Performance is a risk-heavy, often capital intensive, and non-scaleable way of getting revenue.
* Telling musicians to support themselves with T-shirts and tchochkes is another way of saying they should have a job besides making music (which is fine if you actually believe that, I suppose, but it's another way of saying you don't care if they spend more of their time refining their compositions/performances).
So.... why is it necessary to become "independently wealthy" for music as a career to be "sustainable"?
There seems to be a disconnect there. Also, maybe his work is out of date, because there are a lot of independent musicians who have achieved massive success outside of the traditional recording studio model in the internet age, largely through selling their own work and through touring.
It means you're a full-time professional musician. Not a part-time semi-professional musician with a day job to pay the bills, who is permanently distracted by Not Music.
>a lot of independent musicians who have achieved massive success outside of the traditional recording studio model in the internet age, largely through selling their own work and through touring.
No there aren't. There are very, very few professional musicians working that route, and hardly any of them have achieved 'massive success.' Most of the ones who did already had an old-style label-based career, or at least label+management backing.
Most of the really successful ones don't sell their own work and perform. They write and arrange songs for top performers, or they work as producers - which is what Albini does now, mostly - or they do work-for-hire movie and game soundtracks, or they write commercial music for ads, or they work as sound designers.
Being a famous name performer is a career that works for a tiny handful of (mostly) singers, who are primarily picked for sexiness and (sometimes) charisma, not for musical creativity.
>> 'there are a lot of independent musicians who have achieved massive success outside of the traditional recording studio model in the internet age, largely through selling their own work and through touring.'
Please cite some sources. The parent says there aren't and you say there are. I'm leaning towards believing the parent as I haven't seen many and I've seen some large indie bands post figures and they are barely making the average wage.
I look at sarcasm and ridicule as mechanisms to deal with feelings of powerlessness. Jon Stewert and Stephen Colbert used them as 'weapons' on their own audiences to build their own careers and to garner advertising revenue for the companies who employed them.
I was thinking about how it would be kind of nice if their was an official equivalent of a W3C guideline list for teaching programming. Simple things like "start with a working script that your student can experiment with which includes no unnecessary code. Then work backwards to explain how the code works."
I would like to see a new recruiting trend where recruiters double as pseudo career mentors ( hence freely consulting people who are skilled but don't know where they fit in. To fulfill this role these people would probably have to be mentors in a specific industry first and recruiters second). However, I doubt this would make a good business since apparently shoe-horning employees to employers via linkedIn and resume's seems to work, but I figure there might be a subset of the recruiting industry that could possibly make a business out of this idea.
This is what I would like to see as I am very career-confused myself :)