I'm just gonna come out and say it: Seems to me that new media ventures like Loudcrowd.com care about music as much as Starbucks cares about coffee, meaning, of course, that they don’t. I came across the recently launched Loudcrowd site and was disappointed to see the new trends rising to the screen's forefront. You see, the new web opportunitists are into selling “music related virtual goods,” not music, just as Starbucks is all about selling coffee related drinks, not beans.
Problem for me is that, even while it's claimed, loving music is not in Loudcrowd’s plan; it’s only meant to sell the plan. Check the contradiction in their tagline: “… a community of people who love music and want to do more than just listen.” What? People who love music need nothing beyond it; they know the extra flare only defeats the purpose.
It’s music-related sites like these that, unfortunately, make my abstract ideas concrete; that turn my fears of a growing detachment from music into a reality, and an ever pervasive and profit-oriented one. Play with tunes, play with games, play with toys, play with images, play with the virtual and play with virtual versions of long-gone spirited experience. All this playfulness seems only a means for habitually killing time, meanwhile trading depth and value for an image-oriented lifestyle.
Alternately, a site like cashmusic.org shows that some are trying to hold on: “…more than anything we're trying to make sure that music remains a vital part of our culture, and an integral part of our increasingly digital lives.” Founded by Kristin Hersh (Throwing Muses, 50FOOTWAVE) and Donita Sparks (Stellar Moments, L7), the CASH (Coalition of Artists and Stakeholders) nonprofit organization attempts to bring musicians and listeners closer together by enabling artists, such as Deerhoof and Xiu Xiu, to post music and users to remix it, as one example. The ideas, and there are many, behind CASH have not yet been fully fleshed out so it’s too soon to tell whether this model will actually preserve what is at risk (intimacy) and I would like to say I am hopeful but, if you’ve read much from me on this subject, I tend towards pessimism, though I am leaving myself open to the possibility of being swayed.
In other news: Folks are still contemplating the digital transition and subsequent loss of the CD? I think we should jump ahead already to the implications of streaming and think about what does (and does not) come after. I'm not sensing much love---pandora's have fragile shells, you know.
Other folks, outside of Western culture, get it: “No word exists in the Mafa language for music, which is viewed as an inseparable element of ritual.” Ours’ should be rooted somewhere inseparable, too, but we’ve got some, um, minor elements in the way.