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Monday, June 09, 2014

Last Of The Summer Whine about digital music

Obviously, I should talk, but I was interested to see three old gimmers weighing in this week on the subject of the harmful effects of free content.

The splendid Van Dyke Parks started with a piece in the Daily Beast about how he'd recently written a song with Ringo Starr. In the past, he argues, this would have bought him a house and a pool. These days the streaming revenues would barely buy lunch.

This led to a piece by David Carr, venerable media editor of the New York Times, noting that digital downloads, which had been growing steadily for the last few years, are now declining and therefore the future of music appears to be in having access to music rather than owning it, which is unlikely to increase its market value.

This in turn led to a rant by music business opinion-monger Bob Lefsetz which pointed out, among other things, that the only people who seemed to be bothered about this state of affairs were old farts who wished things could go back to the way they were.

With the greatest of respect to all three, I would like to make three points. To Van Dyke Parks I would say, don't you think it's remarkable that a musician like yourself has maintained a profile and a career for almost fifty years - and have you ever checked which of your school friends can say the same?

To David Carr I would say, if you value certain music that much and appreciate Spotify for giving you access to it, do you not think it's worth paying for the premium service in order to help those people make it?

To Bob Lefsetz I would say, I think you're more right than wrong.