This is one that I meant to publish a while ago (I wrote my rough notes for it on December 11, 2012), but life has a way of…getting in the way. It was originally inspired by the announcement that Metallica was opening their library to Spotify, meaning I had access to a lot of quality stuff I didn’t own but enjoyed hearing.
The thing that struck me about it was that one of the classic battles of the 1990s to those of us who paid attention to the entertainment scene in general, was of Metallica suing Napster. They were furious that they were getting cheated, they hated the model and the wanted to shut Napster down. For a lot of people, that battle defined when Metallica went from being a cool band to The Man.
(We won’t mention Pearl Jam’s war with Ticketmaster because quite frankly, I didn’t give a care then and I don’t give a care now.)
Kid Rock fought being on iTunes originally, too, but like Pearl Jam I didn’t really care. As much as I like to play the first minute of Bawitdaba to walk into a room like a bad ass, and I think Kid Rock is a shining example of how to treat your hometown right, it wasn’t a banner fight the way Metallica’s was.
Metallica wanted a throttle hold on their music. They fought the digital revolution as hard as they could instead of seeing where the world was going.
And so what I’m left wondering is, did these fights slow us down? Instead of finding a way to work with the new models that were forming, the bands fought to prevent them. And if anything is true about technology, it’s that you cannot stop its progress.
I lament the fact that maybe—just maybe—streaming music services would have been able to reach maturity a bit sooner. I gleefully never have to buy an album again thanks to my subscription to Spotify, and can listen to anything on my home network easier even than finding a disc, putting it in a player and listening to it.
The Sound of Inevitability?
While it seems like an awfully petty thing to lament not being able to stream music through my computer or phone sooner, let me apply this to a broader point, one that I touched on in “Are We Losing Our Sense of Wonder?”
While Frylock made a great comment to that post saying that resistance to technology lessens with time as each successive generation grows up more accustomed to its exponential rate of change, I wonder if that will hold true from here on out.
Will we see the entertainment industries move more quickly to adopt new technologies, and even champion them to increase access?
Will we possibly see them even pioneer some new technologies that will open us up to previously–dreamed realities?
I certainly hope so.