Springtime in Nashville

Trees a-poppin and labels droppin'... Well, the music industry, as it was, enjoyed a terrific century of success and excess, and what the next century brings is anyone's guess. It's an era when any musician can record him or herself for a few dollars and be heard by anyone on the planet. Unfortunately, it's also when EVERY musician can be heard by anyone on the planet. This technology and its offspring will probably be with us forever (comet collisions, nuclear holocausts and the like notwithstanding). So what economic future is there when good music – meaning music composed and performed by talented, skilled composers and performers – becomes increasingly scarce? Will musicians once again be generally reviled, ridiculed and impoverished as the days before Edison? Say what you will about record labels, the mafia, radio or any of the institutions that have controlled what we hear for the last hundred years. As bad is it has been, with the politics, payola, drug habits, ripoffs, greed and ugliness, at least someone was in control. Someone was listening before anything was released. It didn't start 100 years ago; before Edison, for a composer to make a living he needed a patron. Talk about competition! What will happen...? Well, once the baby boomers die off and the river of money that had been the recording industry becomes a distant memory, the sexy image of the "pop star" will fade from our collective unconscious. The home studio fad will die out, Gibson and Fender will merge for a while before being sold to Sony, and young kids will once again dream of being firemen when they grow up. Only the most dedicated, determined and utterly driven individual will even consider making music for a living, because the obstacles will be, by all accounts, insurmountable. And oh yeah... everyone will think he's insane. Who knows? Maybe recordings will become so irrelevant that in a few years song publishing will once again mean printed sheet music, demoed at the music counters in department stores by girls sitting at upright pianos. Or Casio keyboards, more likely. That might not be so bad!