After a zillion years in this business, you’d think I’d have a sense of just how disconnected the audio biz is from mainstream reality.
Short answer: yeah, no. Think what you want, Leebs, you don’t have a damn clue.
As I prepare to leave for Munich. I’m hearing about all the companies that are barely making payroll, but have some ASTOUNDING NEW DIGITAL AUDIO SOFTWARE that’s gonna bail them out.
Nobody gives a damn about software. The general public is inured to miraculous digital whatever, especially when it comes to music playback, and expects it to be ABSOLUTELY FREE (as FZ put it, forty-five years ago) and is more concerned about empty freezers than MP3. Let’s get REAL here: these are tough times. A miraculous new format matters very little in the grand scheme of things, when people are worried about their next meal. Not to be a downer, but let’s try to approach the audio business like a BUSINESS, not a hobby.
Believe me, I love audio, and have been involved in it most of my life. But: in the big picture, I am one of 330 Million mostly obese folks in America, 1 of 7 BILLION souls worldwide. What I think matters naught, and most of those seven billion folks don’t even know our biz exists.
Here’s my point: if it’s all about the music, as we constantly say, then what are we doing to ensure that kids have music classes in grade school, much less access to instruments and lessons as they grow older? Frankly, I don’t see our efforts going that way—and I include myself in the opprobrium. We’ve all let things slide, and today’s world is clearly less-musical than it was in my youth, fifty years ago. I accept the blame, and so should you. I think we’re uttering BS phrases to make ourselves feel better.
As I’ve pointed out way too many times, 1% of my high school class consisted of professional opera singers and multiple-Grammy award winners. That was the class of ’74; do I see that happening with the class of 2014, or 2017?
Why is that?
My children are now 23 and 25, but even in their adolescence there was little musical training. As far as I can tell, today’s grade-schoolers are largely fed cookies and then berated when they can’t hold still, in spite of having no recess or gym classes. I genuinely think that the musical future of America is part of this same picture, and it ain’t a pretty picture.
Let’s be clear here: I’m one of a gazillion adults who bailed on piano lessons by age 12, and have regretted it ever since. There are some who get it in adolescence; many do not. I certainly did not; the discipline of piano lessons was anathema to me, especially when I had a household full of a thousand LPs of talented musicians, ready to play for us whenever we chose. Why bother?
I get it now, and wrangle with the idea of piano lessons in my seventh decade. I’d rather do something than be presented with something.
What about the kids who never even have the opportunity to reject piano lessons? What about those kids who never have have the chance to hear a live, acoustic instrument, much less play one?
In the grand scheme that may seem trivial, but I suggest it’s a big damn deal, indeed. We’ve seen our world move away from music-making to passive music-listening.
I don’t know know about you, but that bothers me a great deal. If we really care about music, we should be ensuring that the next several generations have the chance to actually make music.
What’re you gonna do about it? I’ll let you know what my plans are in the next issue.