Beck on the future of music (and the music industry)

Wired 14.09
The September edition of Wired magazine looks at Music Reborn.  The issue includes an interview with Beck about his recent works, especially his use of digital and social networking technology to change the nature of how audiences experience music and the business of how music is distributed.

In a recent post I wrote that “in the hands of a master even the simplest of tools can create wonders.” Beck’s story shows what a master can achieve when using the best of tools.

Here are a couple of the questions/answers from the interview that struck me, though the entire article is worth reading:

Guero, with all its various versions and releases, seems to have heralded the end of the album as we know it.
There are so many dimensions to what a record can be these days. Artists can and should approach making an album as an opportunity to do a series of releases – one that’s visual, one that has alternate versions, and one that’s something the listener can participate in or arrange and change. It’s time for the album to embrace the technology.

Do you ever get nostalgic for the albums of old, the LP and all that?
Sure. I’m something of a traditionalist, so I have a soft spot for a record with just a standard side A and side B. But there’s simply more room for information with digital media, and it would be ridiculous not to take advantage of that. It’s sort of like the difference between a wire recording and a piano roll and a cassette tape. They’re different formats, and they inspire different approaches.

Are you surprised by how quickly things are changing?
A little. It used to take 5 to 10 years for something new to get through and really make an impact, but that’s changing. I had been playing music for a long time when “Loser” became a hit on the radio. It seemed to most people like my success came overnight, but it took years of building and playing tiny shows. We didn’t play the 1,000-seat venues for years. Now I see groups come out who have a few cool MP3s online, and they’re selling out theaters across the country.

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