Thursday, September 27, 2007

the abundance of scarcity

When the long-playing record (LP) format was introduced by Columbia Records back in the late 1940s, the industry as a whole resisted it, and many predicted it would never take off because 78s sounded better. Without question, early LPs did not sound nearly as good as 78s. But given the choice of listening to all of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony on two sides of one record versus sixteen sides of eight records, the consumer opted for convenience and simplicity (not to mention less shelf space).

The industry also resisted the audio cassette. Who in their right mind would prefer a format with an ever-present hiss over the pristine sound of an LP? The answer: nearly everybody.
- Fredric Dannen, in What’s the Future of the Music Industry? A Freakonomics Quorum
The majors thrived in an era of artificial scarcity when they were able to control the production and distribution of music. Today, we have an infinite number of choices available to us, and when content is infinitely abundant, the only scarce commodities are convenience, taste, and trust.
- Peter Rojas, in What’s the Future of the Music Industry? A Freakonomics Quorum
So, you all know what I’m talking about. You go to the New Music Concert and the textures are appealing, the information is vivid and valid, the performances are excellent. And then there arrives a moment. And in that moment you think to yourself, “Is it possible that this is still happening? What time even is it.” And then you reconnect, and you listen, and you realize, this is still going on. And then you start looking up on the stage to see how many pages are left on the parts. And then the cellist fold out one of the pages to reveal THREE MORE. Say what you will; this is a problem.
- Nico Muhly, Too Long
With [Sharon] Jones and [Lee] Fields on board, Daptone's music is sometimes indistinguishable from the funk of 40 years ago. [Gabe] Roth has even passed off new records as old. When Desco started out, the idea of new bands playing old-style funk was a hard sell to the soul aficionados they were trying to reach. So the label's first album, The Revenge of Mr. Mopoji, was credited to "Mike Jackson and the Soul Providers" and purported to be a reissue of a soundtrack from an obscure 1970s kung-fu movie. The movie never existed. "Nobody would even listen to it if they thought it was new," Roth says. "I mean, I wouldn't have either. I can't really blame anybody. Our take on it was, 'Look, the music is real.' "
- Indrani Sen, "The 35-Year Plan for Soul Superstardom"