Friday, February 13, 2009

Chasing The Tiger's Tail

As a kid you get on a fairground roundabout and you are probably not paying so you don't consider where you will get off, or even what might happen in the meantime. It is an adventure and about enjoying the here and now. If that is simply an ice-cream you didn't expect to get, then that is good enough when age ten...

'Fat Cat' bankers that made themselves rich on the cards of others' houses are the current bêtes noires but this is also how and why the established music industry went wrong. It did it rather earlier however, and without such global ramifications, but it did it none the less.
Did the world's financial sector notice the possible parallel?
Well, if it did we were not told. Now some senior bankers have said "sorry" in a lengthy and guarded way. The sort of tongue-tied language couched in weasel-words - against which Wikipedia would rightly rail on the grounds of lack of candour - but that at worst would come with the label 'Parental Advisory'. Had they had come up with a contrite explanation, that could justifiably be labelled 'EXPLICIT CONTENT', it would have been better.

There is that human traît, which we all have to a degree, to believe that good as things may be they could be better if...
The problem is when it runs riot. If I mess my life up because of the way I believe this to be true then you can just say "that was all your fault" and the rest of the world will carry on as it did before. It is all a matter of scale and, on that scale of reckoning, things globally are currently pretty bad.

As in life so it is in music and vice versa. Some artists are already funding their albums by selling small shares (typically £10/ $15) to supporters on which a return on future royalties will be payable if such happens - this mutual 'Credit Union' approach has a great deal of precedent in other times and situations. Given that it links diverse artists and their supporters directly, particularly in the digitally connected world, it could have profound implications for the music industry.
It is in any case a cyclical industry, not least in terms of consumer taste, for who would have thought in, let's say the summer of 2007, the US market would now be so enamoured of pop, that there would be so many UK winners at the 2009 Grammys or that the UK, while apparently already in a deep recession, is flirting not only with electro-dance but also italo-disco while simultaneously maintaining an addiction to much that is, more or less, acoustic?
Can you really imagine Emmy the Great collaborating with Norman Cook - the Cinderella of acoustic indie with pop and dance legend Fatboy Slim (DJ, and former Housemartin)?

No, of course you can't!

That is a good answer, and thank-you, except that it is wrong.

I make no apologies if the above seems like a Luke Haines lyric, from the Black Box Recorder School of Music, but the fact remains that you can:

Try putting your mind, guitar, or instrument of choice, to this hybrid song:

I had a dream, no destination,
A sense that it would end like this...
In a trunk at Brighton Station
As an unsolved case.

I love the place I come from
I'm happy where I am.
I can't stop chasing the tiger's tail
I'm tempted to taste some forbidden delight

But I just don't get it.
I don't let it get to me.

The only way into this song is walking.
But you'd rather run.

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