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The Summer Of 2015 Is The Summer Of 1982 Repeated


When we look at this great moment in pop, I think we will see it as an equivalent to the summer of 1982: the pieces are on the chessboard but the moves haven’t been made yet. The moment in pop, when videos became central to pop and rock, hadn’t quite happened. In January 1983, Michael Jackson would drop “Beat It” and MTV and videos would become the story of music till 1991 when grunge changed the game again.

Just before Jackson, videos were nearly there, they mattered, but they hadn’t come full circle: they weren’t the central currency of pop music.

Right now, music as form is a little self-evident. I know there is nothing new but THERE IS NOTHING NEW. EDM is disco, everything else, including rap and r&b are variations on a theme. Computers are obvious, they aren’t earth shattering, they are instruments. And as for indie, alt, and the millions of variants; well OK, but so what? Music is not the story of music, distribution is and distribution isn’t settled. Streaming upset file sharing (plus, the majors got greedy again, 99 cents was the perfect price for a song) but the streaming wars are still in full battle. Decisions over who will win, who will share, how much musicians will be paid, licensing fees –all that stuff, are unsettled. Everybody is in court.

The major label wars ended when EMI got eaten up by Universal (Sony got licensing) in 2012, but the streaming wars heated up with Spotify giving the three majors a percentage of the service. That would seem to be the end of the game, but in a Machiavellian maneuver, Apple have found the hole they needed while Spotify wasted their moment: Apple came up with the no free platform and if they can convince the majors to let Spotify wither away, they might take the streaming crown.

It’s the only story in music of any interest right his second: until it is settled, until there is a clear winner, everything else doesn’t much matter.

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