ISSN : 2266-6060

The Death of the Music Industry, episode 2


What is music? Where does it lies? What kind of commodity can it be? How can we « buy » music, « steal » it? When you’re dealing with inscriptions and their materials, these are particularly intricate, though fascinating, questions. Especially since CD burners arrived in our houses and just after that Napster and that MP3 files that could easily go from one hard drive to another. And then iPods. And Deezer and Spotify. Formats and inscribers.
One thing remain certain: all these years, the forms of music instanciation have proliferated. Since the split between live shows and recorded ones, music has become more and more multiple. At least for its listeners. For some folks in music industry, things seem more complicated. Or more simple: for them, one could say that each instanciation should be paid simply because this is always both exactly the same music and completely distinct products. A song on the radio, a 128k MP3 file on an iPod, the same file on your crappy computer speakers, a Spotify title on these same speakers, a song on CD, a song on a vinyl: each time the same song, each time a commodity. In a sense, they refuse multiplicity, or they do not know how to accept it, to trust it. They cannot imagine for instance, that you could listen to some downloaded music or some songs on Bandcamp, as many times as you like, that you could actually discover tons of artists and albums thanks to it, and eventually buy other instanciations of these songs.
Some though have found a pretty elegant way to deal with it. A solution that admits that two instanciations of a song are both identical and different enough to cohabit. Today, when you buy a vinyl LP, you generally also buy a digital copy of the album. That means that you can both enjoy the beautiful analogical sound of the songs from your nice turntable, amplifiers and speaker, and play another version of it in your headphones during a trip, in other speakers at your office, or even in your computer in another room at home. The same LP, two versions. One commodity, multiple uses.
The icing on the cake is it come with other inscriptions. Coupons, that you find in the record cover like a toy in a cereals box, with a web site address on it and a code, small papers that you can collect just as you collected concert and party flyers some years ago.

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