The Times Are A-Changing

Someone once said that the biggest problem with cigarettes is that they donít kill quickly enough. Thereís probably some truth to that. After all, if people were shown to develop cancer or some other terminal malady after only a dozen or so puffs, theyíd be immediately outlawed. Since the product takes years or even decades to actually kill someone, it is allowed to thrive and continues to be sold.

The lesson here is that time makes all the difference.

Time is going to make a difference for something else. The business model that the RIAA and the big five music producers is flawed, in more way than one, and its days are numbered. It seems that Universal Music may have figured at least part of that out. They just lowered the price of CDís they produce from nineteen dollars down to thirteen dollars. Iíll grant you that the new price is still ridiculously high, but the change is indicative that maybe, just maybe, they understand the problem. Unfortunately, the price gouging practiced by the RIAA members is a symptom of the problem, rather than being the crux of the issue.

When you get right down to business, hereís the difference between the dot bomb bubble and the music industry. Ready? The likes of the RIAA are just going to take longer to die off.

The first problem is the model where by music is produced. There is this unneeded middle man, the Universalís and Sonyís of the world that really serve only to drive prices higher. Take them out of the equation and right away youíve managed to slash the pricing structure. Oh, sure, there was a time where they were actually needed, but with the advent of easy to use and powerful computers, there isnít much they do, besides, politicking, which needs to be done. And lets face it, the need for politicking is created by the need to get the music to the right people in order to get it heard. Remove the big producers and suddenly you have a far more free and varied marketplace.

The second problem is the manner in which the so-called artists are compensated. Letís face up to it, some of these people suck. Many are manufactured, rather than talented and donít even get me started on rap. The thing Iím coming to though is that they really arenít worth it. Should they make a living? Absolutely. Are they worth millions of dollars? Hardly. One of the reasons musicians and singers are paid as much as they are is that an artificial demand for their talents was created by those production houses. After all, if just anyone could be a performer, and judging by some of what makes it onto CDís and the airwaves that's entirely possible, then there is no demand for any one group. Bad news is coming and coming on fast. There are lots and lots of performers out there who are finding ways to bypass the traditional route to becoming popular. When truly talented people, who refuse to sell their souls to the suits, find ways to get their music produced and listened to, the suits loose power.

The good news is that there is room for many many more artists to make some headway in their effort at gaining some popularity. The bad news is that the days of overpaid and over-pampered prima-donnas may be numbered, and the number may not be very sizable. After all, if there are two or three dozen truly talented performers who will work for a reasonable wage, why would anyone throw away gozillions of dollars on the likes of, well, just about any mainstream performer today.

You know what else? The music industry isnít the only one getting set up for this fall. The movie industry is falling in line right behind them. Its gotten very very easy to make a movie and mass produce it. The ticket prices at all those unneeded megaplexes have continued to rise. And what do we get for our fist full of dollars? A bevy of commercials before the trailers which are before the movie which isnít worth the time it took to drive across town in the first place. As with singers, actors and actresses will soon find their earning power falling dramatically. One can only hope that the various sports franchises manage to find their way to the head of this parade.

Now, if youíre getting the impression that I donít like music or movies or sports, donít jump to any conclusions. Well, except for sports. I love good music and I love good movies. Unfortunately there is a decided lack of either which qualifies as good, and very few that are outstanding. These days, when it comes to movies, all weíre really seeing is a combination of remakes and CGI. Speaking of CGI, what happens when human performers can be replaced by CGI? Weíre not far off from that as it is. That's about the only way I can think of that the suits will manage to maintain their grasp of the almighty entertainment dollar. Iíd like to think that the public has too much taste to accept movies without true actors. Iíd like to think that, but high quality, successful productions like ìJackass: The Movieî would tend to prove me wrong.