YouthESource

Musical Chairs

In Clef Notes, thESource columnist Josh Salzburg takes a monthly look at all things musical: artists, labels, lyrics, lawsuits, and, perhaps most importantly, listeners. Tune in to Clef Notes each month to catch a soundwave about what’s up in the music scene.

Everyone remembers the favorite childhood game, right?  You walk in a circle, moving chair to chair, in an attempt to claim a seat in the circle before someone else.  Chairs are removed, one at a time, until there is one chair, one kid. If you’ve ever asked yourself what this game really accomplishes, you aren’t alone. Not all kids have the agility to get their keister to a seat, and they’re all ticked off that they can’t play anymore. Furthermore, the one kid that is blessed by a skilled backside is slipping into depression because he’s in the circle by himself. Do you find it less than fun? Does it seem monotonous? Maybe a bit childish?  Sounds like something else I know: the modern music industry.

It seems to me that breaching the topic of music is nearly impossible without someone blasting you with his or her opinion of file sharing.  There’s no need to even define the term anymore.  Someone is actually calling me right now, as they read this, just because I said the phrase and that within itself is controversy.  Have we as a culture faced the fact that the subject has been overplayed more than the late, great Macarena?  What is upsetting is that the debate itself has overshadowed progression in the music world for the past six months, if not for four years.  This stalemate has left me with the disturbing bad taste of lawsuits and bootlegging, not to mention greediness and copyright infringement.  Since when have we abandoned rebel rock and concert halls for politics and courtroom hearings?

Some might say that it started with the conception of Napster, the first file-sharing software made available for free on the Internet.  Some claim that the record companies are responsible for overpricing CD’s to begin with.  Whatever side you decide to take, one thing seems painfully clear: It is time for the people behind the music to stake something in their opinions.  We need some artists to be original and stand out with their own ideas. So far, it seems that the only major attempts to be directly involved in settling this debate have been the short-lived controversies created by Metallica’s unsuccessful lawsuits, and Limp Bizkit’s brief “Free Music Tour” with Napster in 1999.  Music lovers everywhere need someone bold to step out and remind us why we simultaneously buy CD’s for twenty dollars and risk $12,000 settlements to hear the music we love.

It’s just a shame is all it is. It’s a shame and a disgrace. Unfortunately for us, we aren’t putting the Internet to optimal use to spread new music, or utilizing the capability to progress into a new era of music.  My fear is that consumers and record company salesmen will not realize this until the majority of society is more burned out on the subject than I am. Let’s just say that you won’t find me in the circle when the music stops.

Published January 1, 2004

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