A conversation in Twitter got me thinking (thanks to Luis). It started with me making the statement that musicians shouldn’t be making millions of dollars a year. Teachers and social workers struggle to pay bills, yet some of the richest people in our country make millions by recording music. It ended with me being called a communist.
The idea of capitalism rests upon the assumption that the market is dependent on the consumer. If customers have options and information, the value of products will be adjusted to fit the consumers’ demand. When an industry is dominated by a few very influential players in a market with high barriers to entry, this concept goes to shit. Right now, you’ve got four major labels (Sony BMG, Universal, EMI, & Warner) deciding your options for you. Instead of having thousands of artists to choose from, the majority of the population is force fed 50-100 options in each segment. This means most artists never make it. Very few make it big. Some artists seen as marketable get huge pushes and end up making millions. Most end up broke.
It’s the same concept that fucks with our whole economy. Look at the stock market. The idea of investing in a company should be determined based on whether or not you think that company will be successful and profitable. This isn’t true. The value of a company’s stock can easily be manipulated by mutual fund managers and hedge funds based in Greenwich, CT (no shots CT). You have a very select group of people with a high level of information making millions of dollars off the stock market, while most people are sitting in the dark with no real idea of why the fuck a stock’s value is changing from day to day.
The concept is there. If music reaches people, the artist should be rewarded. But who is controlling what music reaches the people? Is Soulja Boy making millions because his music “touches the people”, or is he making millions because someone’s marketing plan panned out? And does this even matter?
I say that yes, it does matter. Demand should be controlled by the consumer, not the supplier. Hopefully, resources like the internet will allow the consumer to be more informed and less dependent on sources like radio and major label marketing that has a stronghold on what ends up hitting your eardrum. With more choices, I think it’s only fair that wealth will be spread out, and instead of having 100 artists making millions a year, you will have thousands of artists making a decent living and providing the average person with plenty of listening options.
What do you think? Is this wishful thinking? Am I a Communist/Socialist? Does Soulja Boy deserve to be a millionaire? Do you think labels have too much control over what music gets heard? Let me know. This is still a topic I’m struggling to figure out, and I’m definitely open to new opinions. I’m not trying to come across like I know it all, because I dont. These are just my thoughts.