Covid-19 Continues To Destroy The Music Business
In another piece of terrible news, the UK transmogrification of classic New Musical Express, “Q Magazine” is closing after one last greatest hits issue. It has been 34 years (in the 1990s I read it religiously, in the 2000s they weren’t good enough at hip hop although perfection of what could be dubbed classic rock, in the 20s they followed the art-pop wherever it lead) and editor Ted Kessler put the blame squarely on the shoulders of the virus that is putting the planet in panic in pandemic.
If rock nyc had any money to lose we would be closed as well.
What is happening to the music industry is terrifying, in LA the local club is in its last paroxysm death rattle (see Alyson’s post here), in New York we are waiting for the other shoe to drop but undoubtedly all those Ludlow Street venues are in deep trouble. Big tours are stifled, there is no money in recording at the best of time, and even the rich aren’t getting richer, unless you own Netflix or Amazon, the music industry joins the funeral pyre for the ongoing death of the American economy.
It could not be back to anything approaching normal for years and years. What is needed is a vaccine of course, and until we get one we are just limping along.
The loss of Q is indicative as to just how fragile life affiliated with the music business, from ticket brokers to ticket sellers the loss of concerts is devastating, even a behemoth like Live Nation is baffled, to recordings, to recording, and on. Live streaming didn’t take off, certainly not as paid live substitute, if you read Ken Davis’s review of seeing Southside Johnny live at a Drive-In (here) it appears to be a nonstarter. Tik Tok and other social media can break a song big, but you have a better chance of winning the lottery.
Until there is a vaccine, the US is in big trouble. Undoubtedly, the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. And we have a man who couldn’t be worse in a time of national crises, it isn’t even an insult to note that Trump lacks compassion and empathy for anything but himself: it is a characteristic. When a bigger vision is needed, his is gnomic and based solely in Self Interest. And it is taking the music industry and everything surrounding into the Grand Canyon.
If I was (a lot) younger, I’d wonder if the music scene might turn into a generation gap rebellion as the Greatest Generation completes its dying off with a helping hand from Covid-19 and the young generation of sixties has to accept responsibility for how its lack of responsibility has turned into this.
The US was going to have to go through some form of Generation Gap, cynicism is not a working model for people born into the disastrous 21st Century. Everything from #BLM to #Metoo to global warming are all attempting to right society and to heal the planet. The music industry needs to think smaller, think smarter, it needs a collection of musicians to change the scene. If you listen to the “sad songs” movement and to “emo rap” the one prevailing emotion is a suicidal melancholia, solipsistic, individual, private, cut off. It speaks to its fans by speaking to itself, but it isn’t a rallying point.
In 2020 it is all coming together with the US’s inability to practise self-control leading directly to the death rattle of the music industry. Q RIP.