A long time ago in a land far away, before the world of $.99 downloads and free streaming, Industry gods controlled the Music world. For 100 years they looked down from their lofty perch and periodically cast their favor upon on a small number of struggling Artists below, granting them Record Deals. And for the handful of Artists that received Record Deals, the scraps from the table were enough. Life was good… or so they thought.
It was an expensive, restrictive and monolithic world, but alas, we could perceive no other. Only Artists with Record Deals could be heard; to played on the radio, to be distributed and purchased in duly appointed Record Stores. Working people scrimped and saved to buy from the Record Stores. It was very expensive, but they were happy, because after all, music was their life, and their ears knew no other sounds.
But there was trouble lurking just out of earshot in this seemingly perfect world. Even top selling Artists who had a Record Deal only made a pittance for their music, they felt abused and they became restless. For every expensive record that was sold, the Artist would only be left with a few coins jingling in their pocket – the Record Company and its monopolistic distributors had taken all the rest. If it was a harsh world for those who had a Record Deal, it was even worse everyone else, for all around there was music would never be heard. It was a dystopic world of repressive order and everyone begrudgingly accepted it, for there was no other way… until the day that digital sprang to life.
With the advent of computers and digital music, even musicians without Record Deals could record their own music, publish it on the Internet and distribute it directly with their fans. Suddenly, the Music world was turned upside down. The new world order would see the destruction of Record Stores as a tidal wave of new, unheard Artists creating music, bypassed the monopoly and played their music around the world... all without the blessing of the Music gods.
To say the least, the Music gods were displeased. Desperately, they banded together and tried to preserve what was left of their crumbling world with lawsuits and threats, but it was to no avail, the genie was out of the bottle. Armed with an orchestra of computers, challengers beat upon their castle tore it apart, brick by brick. It was aural anarchy. The masses that had been denied for so long smelled blood in the water, and a revolution was unleashed; the outcome could not be denied. It was a musical war with many casualties that ultimately would sweep away all that had been built in the 100 years of domination, and when it was over, what and how we would hear was forever changed.
Music had been liberated, and it was free (or at least, inexpensive); Artists were no longer shackled to Record Companies, and anyone with a song, a dream and a YouTube connection could be heard. Gone were the monolithic gatekeepers of Record Stores, Radio stations, and the Industry gods that controlled our minds and ears. Music oozed from our very soul; it was the sound of equality, of peace, and of hope. But even as we reveled in our auditory uprising, a shadow was lurking in the ashes of the victory; it was an unnoticed apple that had fallen not too far from the tree…
They say that power abhors a vacuum, and man often sows the seeds of his own destruction, but that is a story to be written for another time. In my mind’s ear, though, I fear that it may be déjà vu all over again…