18 April 2012

Music is not a veneer!

Found on sound specialist Julian Treasures' blog: "A survey reported recently in the UK Daily Mail (Nov 4) suggested that 50% of shoppers leave stores because of the background music playing. This finding is a welcome antidote to a lot of often poorly-designed research suggesting that music is universally beneficial and so should be deployed absolutely everywhere. That is obviously not true, and yet the thesis sadly seems to have taken root in the minds of many retailers. I suspect that the explosion of mindless music in public places is fuelled less by retailers' desire to improve the shopping environment than by the music industry's desperate search for new revenue streams. With sales of 'product' collapsing, the music industry is left with just two revenue streams that are still growing: live shows, and royalties from public performance of recorded music. The moguls of music (and their acolytes in the royalty collection agencies) have seized onto background music with the desperate grasp of a drowning man on a piece of wreckage. It seems that their dearest wish is to veneer with music every public space in the world – shops, malls, restaurants, cafés, outdoor spaces, buses, taxis, stations, airports, gyms, community buildings. And so they sponsor one-eyed research to 'prove' that we all love music everywhere.

Veneering the world with music is wrong, for two reasons.

1: It's the wrong direction for the music industry
Omnipresent piped music is not the answer to the music industry's woes. The future of music lies in a subtler and infinitely more fruitful pursuit: monetising the artist/fan relationship. Tomorrow's savvy artist will offer a range of opportunities to engage (both virtual and physical), and the fans will choose the level that's right for them, from a free download of a single track to VIP club membership with privileges at gigs and even personal meetings. This type of thinking is already being explored by artists like Björk, Imogen Heap and Thomas Dolby. In a world where peer sharing is normal behaviour, the basic music track has become... read on."