Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Why the end of the music industry is a good thing

I don't normally like the "How the World Works" blog on Salon because it is way too thrilled about the impending collapse of the real estate market and the evils of the global economy. It's like reading a left-wing Left Behind.

But today's essay is great. I even like the title: "Music industry slain by Internet: YouTube clip at 11". Here's the "money quote" as teh bloggers say:

As it becomes ever harder for newspapers and movie studios and record companies to make a buck, I have found myself exposed to more varieties of entertainment and a wider selection of information sources than I ever imagined possible, back in the day when my only option was driving to the mall to see what the nearest Tower Records store was stocking. We aren't just exposed to media in more ways than ever before, as the Journal concedes, we are exposed to more musicians, more writers, more video artists, and more creativity.
Now this is a cool idea. And he's dead right, because we do have better access to news now then we did before the internet. And we do have better access to music then before. We even have better access to hard goods that we can order over the web as an alternative to picking from the limited selection you'll find at local shops and big box stores. Books, clothes, furniture, gardening supplies. These are all things we (by which I mean me) regularly order over the net without giving it a second thought.

So what's the implication here? That industries and corporations don't exist to facilitate bringing things to market. Instead, they block markets and frustrate consumers, and expect us to pay for the privilege. They serve as a bottleneck in order to maintain the illusion of scarcity which is the only way to sustain a capitalist economy. I don't want to over-spin this but what's true for the entertainment and news business now may be true for other industries in the future.