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A real David & Goliath tale

as featured in Essex Events Magazine January 2009

byWayne D'Amico

Music Editor Column

Music is an interesting term. Most of us default to the romanticized etymology where music is the organization and manifestation of mathematical proportions in sound, be it sung or played on an instrument. Simply said, stuff we listen to that is pleasing to hear and fun to move to.

I've written how music is a part of everyone's life to some degree, but it is very important to those that are blessed with the talent to create it, perform it and have the passion to share it with those who want to repeat it or merely enjoy it.

If music is such a basic and personal manifestation of human creativity (like art), could it be said that a musician's primary purpose is to create music and share it with others? I personally have never met another musician or read any musician's story that did not express the personal passion to create or perform being their driving force. If so, then isn't it ironic how in a modern world, such an inocent personal activity has been held hostage to capitalism.

Was music ever meant to be capitalized? For most of recent time, the "music industry" has developed by capitalizing on the distribution of music to the masses. Profit centers have been found from the writer and performer, to the production of recording and performances to the distribtion and resale on radio, TV or playable forms. For all these profit centers however, it is a common tale for the musician (writer or performer) to be the most critical component, but the one with the least remuneration.

It dawned on me over the holidays, that the music industry seems to be coming around to adjusting to this long held pardox. I was reading how the major record labels were dropping their law suits against online music sharing sites; giving up the decade long battle on online "piracy". Is this a David and Goliath ending? Did the big companies who have been taking advantage of the musicians and song writer's since the invention of recorded music distribution finally raise the white flag?

The irony is that it was not that the companies wanted to protect the musicians, but instead they didn't want to incur the costs to renengineer their distribution model to the technological phenomeon of the Internet. There has always been a tolerance to the illegal reproduction of recorded material, but this one seemed a bit too big to ignore. It wasn't however the existence of the sharing sites that caused for the white flag. It was when the musicians themselves realizing that they could utilize the latest in technology to produce and distribute their material without the traditional music industry machine.

This latest model which allows musicians to produce their own material and distribute it in an economically profitable way, that seems a bit more tolerable as a "capitalization" of the art. The primary motivation of a musician remains personal satisfaction through the creation of music, but they can now earn a living doing it without be held in servitude to industry conglomerates to perpetuate their dreams.

It may be a little tough out there right now, but there is always a glimmer of hope especially when there's a recent win for the little guy.

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