In response to Rocknerd “Culture is not about aesthetics. Punk rock is now enforced by law.”

The author doesn’t seem to understand that the 20th century was an anomaly. The technological barriers and economy of scale of the recording industry created a divide between professional and amateur musicians which made the professionals artificially scarce and therefore easier to charge more money for. The digital revolution has joined that divide, and it’s like we’re back to the 19th century where anyone with an instrument could entertain.

The amount of music available seems overwhelming for two reasons. First, we forgot how many amateur musicians were around naturally (without the artificial technological and logistical barriers of the recording industry) because in the 20th century they were dismissed as “not serious”, and now that recording is about personal expression instead of recouping cost we’re seeing them come out of the woodwork. Second, because of the internet we are artificially able to find more music than we would have before the recording industry. Instead of just listening to the neibors on our street, we can listen to neibors all over the world.

Music, like all culture, wants to be free. So musicians are left with two options. Go back to giving freely in the hopes of being given to freely, meaning passing the hat or its digital update, the Paypal donation button. Second, the much older technological barrier of a room with a bouncer in front of the door who keeps those who don’t pay the ticket price out. Hopefully that second one won’t get completely subverted by camera phones.

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