Discover more from The Nelson George Mixtape
THERE USED TO BE BANDS
A short rant about recording music is no longer a viable business model
There used to be bands.
Kool & the Gang
In black popular music, bands were centers of creativity, institutions of employment, and brands that reflected various branches of the African-American and Afro-Cuban innovation.
Then the synthesizer and the drum machine shrunk them. Then the sampler eliminated them. Then, the death blow streaming music deals basically made recorded music valueless as a commodity other than as loss leader for live performance.
Steve Arrington and his Hall of Fame
I am glad people in the TV and film industry have unions (I am in a couple) and are striking to get a fair piece of a pie that has been impacted by streaming and, perhaps, to keep jobs that technology may make as redundant as trap drummers at a hip hop show.
Still, it does make me sad for the financial, and cultural loses, technology has enabled in popular black music. The sounds changed — it always does — and so many jobs, onstage and off, disappeared with them. Was it evolution or devolution? I ponder this question a lot. The evolving technology has enabled so many to participate in the creation of music. But the current trends in distribution are a disaster.
The streaming revenue for musicians is just as appalling as the residuals in visual media. I am not a musician, but I am struck by the unfairness of the current system and how it continues to degrade the ability of so many gifted people to make a living in art. I don’t have the answer, but the problem is obvious.