Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Classical music and the catastrophe of abundance


Examples of what Andrew Keen in The Internet is Not the Answer terms 'the catastrophe of abundance' abound in classical music. Incontrovertible statistics show that demand for classical music is declining. Despite this, supply continues to increase - orchestras and record labels offer more and more free music via downloads and streaming, London wants to build a new concert hall a few hundred metres from a perfectly serviceable hall built in 1982, and anniversary composers are programmed in catastrophic abundance. The problem is obvious - there is too much classical music*. Yet there is not the slightest recognition within the classical industry that increasing supply in a declining market is a recipe for disaster. If any more evidence is needed of this lemming-like march to the abyss, it is the agenda of the forthcoming Association of British Orchestras' conference. Not a single mention of oversupply or excess capacity in the supply chain, but a presentation by the chief executive of England Hockey. So, while British orchestras play hockey in the abandoned Barbican Hall, the music industry will continue to implode, as Andrew Keen explains:
Over the last twenty-five years, the Internet has indeed sucked much of the musical creativity out of the world. In 2008 alone, there were 39,000 jobs lost in the British creative economy. Today, in 2014, the prospects of young musicians or entrepreneurs breaking into the industry are dramatically worse than they were twenty-five years ago. Back in 1989, we all wanted to work in the music industry; but today, in 2014, the new new thing is multibillion-dollar companies like Spotify and Pandora that are destroying the livelihoods of independent musicians. Yes, the Internet did change everything in the music industry. Music is, indeed, abundant. And that's been the catastrophe of the last quarter.
* There is also too much of the wrong kind of music; but that's another story. No review samples used in this post. Any copyrighted material is included as "fair use" for critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Also on Facebook and Twitter.

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