By Hans Ebert
Visit: www.fasttrack.hk

You start out making music for fun. Some give this up and get a real job, well, as real as any job can be whereas a few continue to make music for the love of it, and, like any other job, wish to be paid for the amount of hours put into the work- into the job. But, more and more, this doesn’t work anymore.

Somewhere along the way, the gatekeepers weren’t paying attention and music not only started to lose its shine, it got hijacked by the star tekkies who devalued it.

Those those whose job it was to make music were duped into giving it away for free in exchange for Monopoly money and an online illusion of fame in the guise of views, likes and using “the right” hashtags.

They say that there’s no such thing as a free lunch, but how did music become one- and with a cherry on top?

Musicians getting screwed over has always happened. They did the heavy lifting and the plantation owners cracked the whip to many caught unawares until they were willing to be malleable Kunta Kintes. So, the stealing of music has always been around.

When the stakes became higher and an industry was created with different business streams, the smart musicians became businessmen and entrepreneurs in order to be part of the paradigm shift and digital revolution taking place.

The music companies hurriedly put together new “digital marketing” teams comprising too many who came from Yahoo and MySpace and with no idea of music- its history, the legendary music people including the artists and the music.

Being with EMI Music at the time, one saw the division within the ranks where “traditional marketing” teams clashed with the “digital people” who were hired more and more often and given bigger and bigger titles.

It didn’t take long to realise that something had gone completely wrong with the hiring process. There wasn’t really much for the digital teams to actually do. So, they were let go. Having seen just how dysfunctional and lost the music companies were, they went off and created various online music delivery platforms.

People like private equity buffoon Guy Hands and his Terrarists marched in, whose only knowledge of music was attending karaoke sessions, but knew all about the toilets on the autobahn, took over EMI and turned the great music company into a flop house.

Chairman Eric Nicoli strapped on his golden parachute and escaped with a golden handshake by choreographing his version of Game Of Thrones.

Artists who had seen The Big Fall hurtling towards the company bailed and played for time by releasing the one-off record with brands like Starbucks.

Radiohead offered their new release “In Rainbows” online to fans for whatever their fans wished to pay for it. Most decided to take it for free.

Now, after almost two decades of music executives making back room deals, sleeping with the enemy and working out retirement plans, here we are in the new abnormal.

Music companies are still around with few knowing exactly what they’re doing and the minions wondering how much longer they can hold on and where it’s all leading during these days of COVID-19.

Music is drowning in a sea of mediocrity and sameness with streaming drowning in the clutter of irrelevance.

After all, with viewers able to watch online home appearances by the world’s biggest names and videos featuring the greatest music ever made – for free- who could ask for anything more? It’s the greatest buffet of music ever needed.

Where are Lorde, Maggie Rogers, Selena Gomes etc etc? Does anyone care? Has Billie Eilish already come and gone? What happened to Hozier, James Bay and so many others who were the Next Big Thing?

These days, Blue Note has a tip jar and a PayPal account for those who might wish to pay SOMETHING for one of its online shows. Think there’ll be many takers?

Meanwhile, more and more “exclusive” merchandise is being made available. But all these are just bandaids to get something out of a product that’s lost its value.

Yes, there are a few venues for ‘live’ music slowly starting to open up again. But there are more and more venues struggling to keep their heads above water and looking at new ways to keep their businesses going.

Where and what’s the role in music in all this- NEW music? As mentioned- and just to be repetitious- ALL the greatest music in the world performed by the original artists is available online. Thank gawd for that.

Is there a future for new music? There must be. There should be. And what is it? And how many would be willing to pay for this? Or will this new music need to be bundled with different entertainment based products to create something consumers have never seen before?

An all-in-one product that will evolve into something none of us have seen and heard before? Maybe. But don’t hold your breath.

#music #futureofmusic #onlineplatforms #EMI #GuyHands #EricNicoli #wherearetheynow #wheresthebeef