Spent all weekend hanging out with friends at Outside Lands in San Francisco. What’d we talk about? Music and technology. Spending Monday & Tuesday at Bandwidth Conference in San Francisco. What’re we gonna talk about? Technology and music. Is everything hunky dory in the music industry? Oh, hellnaw. Does that bother any of us? Not at all.
Sure, it’s frustrating that revenues right now are a fraction of decades past. Sure, it’s frustrating that we’re still dealing with illegal downloading, even as legal alternatives exist. But you head out to the woods and watch acts like Sia, Girl Talk, Major Lazer, and Little Dragon play for a sea of fans as far as the eye can see, you enjoy headliners like Phish, Muse, and Arcade Fire fill up a space the size of two football fields, and you get a quick reminder of exactly why we stay in this business.
Reminds me of an indie retail conference in Cincinnati we hit about five years ago — fancy hotel, all these drips from the Lions Club / Banking & Actuary association / Proctor & Gamble in adjacent meeting rooms, looking at us like we were gonna steal their fancy little mustard jars from their catering tables in the hallway. And all I could think was, “Man, f them guys, I just met Bootsy Collins!”
Every industry’s got problems these days — but while the bankers are freaking out over who’s gonna screw who when they all realize they ALL owe on debts they can’t ever pay off, there are millions of people worldwide willing to fork over hard-earned cash for a good time. And from where I was standing this weekend, more people were interested in living for today than they were fretting over the value of their 401k.
But I will say I do have concerns about recent unrest around the world — standing up for your civil rights to be recognized, as in the case of many in the middle east, is difficult and deadly, but has its place. But jumping on cars because the cops won’t let your favorite DJ play without a permit, starting fires because your hockey team lost, burning down warehouses and looting your own community because the cops shot a drug dealer, is unjustifiable, and sad to say, a harbinger of much worse things to come. More on that later.