I grew up in an era when we had 3 TV channels and about 7 radio stations. The audience for Top of the Pops, in the 1970’s, was huge. At school on Friday morning everybody would talk about the new music and kids would identify with the bands. There were a lot of different types of music then. Heavy metal, progressive rock, glam rock, punk rock, new wave, disco, reggae and soul and all sold on vinyl. Now a bewildering range of media devices pump out music designed by computers to maximise profits.
What we lack now is a common experience of music. The sounds are apparently listened to independently and not shared with others, or not as much as it used to be. The groups were a symbol of resistance, rebellion, a statement about life or a tribe to belong to with all the uniform and accessories that follow on. It is wrong to look back with nostalgia, after all nobody wore flares again after 1978. But sometimes things fail and have to reinvent themselves. Maybe the way music is sold could change. It’s an art not an industry. Put the artists in charge. Why not encourage those who have earnt money, as musicians to invest in up and coming talent. Not to exploit them, but to mentor and nurture them. They don’t need to tour around the USA for 3 months after one successful album, do they? To get too much fame and fortune is bad for the art and the artist. What about writers exploring new life experiences, that give them ideas to write new music.
There could be lifestyle advice, there could be gigs that promote the music rather than exploit it, there could be music communities. I guess some musicians retreat from fame and hide in a big house somewhere. Can we not draw them out and help them to help youngsters produce some great music. They won’t produce the same stuff as the 1970’s, that has sadly gone. But there could be inspiration and understanding drawn from those who have been there before. Can there not be a community where the music rules and the accountants serve. They may talk about product, but we could talk about pathos.
Another way to promote the music is on radio. Instead of DJ’s reading scripts, they could run their own shows, choose their own playlists and design their own competitions. Adverts could be made funny again and replaced regularly. During the day the shows would be work and travel related. But at night they could explore the history and roots of different genres, inspire artists to write new music inspired by that genre. It may not fit the formula for selling advertising, but an entrepreneur would seek a new product to see if it works. Even if it does not sell, the music has been promoted which is the main point.
There is no way to stop illegal downloading, but by changing the culture and getting kids to respect the art, there may be a chance that it can still be saved.