Thursday, February 12, 2009

Musician versus Recording Industry

I just happened to notice this quote in an interview with The Reverend Horton Heat in the San Jose Mercury News:

"To me, being a recording artist is barely a valid art form," Heath says by telephone from a tour stop in Fort Collins, Colo. "It's almost like being in the advertising business, because in the long, storied history of music, only a small percentage of that history involves recording technology.

"Music was always a live event. It's a linear art form. You play some notes, they go out and they're gone forever. To try to reduce that to a static art form is wrong."

I agree with this entirely for many reasons. Firstly, it fits in well with the new reality of zero cost replication of recorded music. As many people have said, myself included, the new business of music is to give away recorded music to promote live performance.

Secondly, while listening to recorded music is OK, nothing beats a good live musical performance. I could give many examples of memorable musical performances that I have witnessed in person. A good recording of a good live performance beats a sterile studio performance any day. For example, many, many years ago I happened to tape Ian Dury and the Blockheads performing live for the BBC. That performance was so much more alive than any of their studio albums. When I buy music these days, I prefer to buy a live performance.

Finally, as the good "Reverend" says, in the history of music, the recording is but a blip. The recording industry came to power in just the last 50 years by controlling the means of production and now that they no longer have that control they will surely fade.

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