A gilded barge is sinking…
I am not an admirer of Rolling Stone magazine. It was sort of vital at the beginning and gave a home to some innovative writers and content but soon became a flabby bible of MOR, missing crucial bands and movements from punk rock to hip hop and beyond. It is less cool than the 40-quid-bloke targeted music supplements of the Sundays. So it was the last place I expected to ever find a relevant article on the decline of the mainstream music industry. I’ve never bought a single download as they are apalling value compared to CDs (which are uncompressed and unrestricted) if you know where to look but most people seem to like them.
I went in with my own prejudices, which were (thankfully!) confirmed by the analysis of the peice. A deal with Napster was the last train out of decline and they missed it – shattering the community of keen downloaders into endless other groups. When everyone was in the same place, there was a deal to be done. Now there is nothing to do but lament and sue children. As someone whose music rarely has been favoured by the bubblegum merchants of the mainstream – at least for long – I cannot say I am sorry to hear of their pain. Those that make an effort and offer something special seem to be doing just fine.
What saddens me most is the decline in record stores. I love visting places like Rough Trade as I am sure to discover something new and unexpected every time. If all people have are pop radio, downloads and big retailers many listeners will never know of all the music they could enjoy as they never will have a chance to hear it in the first place.