Sep 10, 2008, 07:52AM

"The Futility of Flogging Music"

A powerful appraisal of Music 2.0.

The internet has entirely switched the focus from making music to sales and marketing. While some might say that this is just the harsh reality, it's what you have to do to survive, I say bollocks. I'm not just being romantic about this. There's a choice: play gigs, experience that peculiar bonding you get with fellow band members, feel that curious mixture of love and antipathy you get from an audience – and make no money. Or obsess about selling mp3s – and make no money. My children, and my children's children, certainly won't want to hear about my tedious marketing efforts to secure a song that I wrote 250,000 views on YouTube. (Note that I sold barely 100 MP3s as a result of this colossal and unexpected exposure – which certainly made it an interesting experiment, but also a fairly solitary and unfulfilling one.) What would have made a better story would have been to wangle a gig in a Parisian squat where the electrics are dodgy, suffer a massive electric shock off a mike stand, get carried from the building while everyone cheers loudly, be left rubbing your head while slumped against the side of your van, the promoter takes advantage of the confusion by running off with the mixing desk which he's holding ransom because he claims that the PA company owe him money, at which point you realise that you're not going to get paid, and you look at your fellow band members, and then you start to cry. That's the story I'd rather tell, and frankly it's the story I'd rather hear. Music's biggest function, from time immemorial, has never been its capacity to make money. It's its powerful social glue. Without wishing to get all Oprah on your ass, it may be an expensive hobby, but it brings people together in an utterly unique fashion.


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