Dead In The Water

This morning’s wake up call, effectively rendering two thirds of my life’s pursuits (rock ‘n roll, and MTV) over the hill and obsolete, came courtesy of New York Magazine.

“Consider big media,” columnist Kurt Anderson wrote.

“CDs seem so antique,” my 17-year-old daughter remarked the other day. Again and again these days, the record-setting CD sales number isn’t about gold or platinum but for the all-time lowest number of sales by a No. 1 album. Just as our lame-duck-in-chief refused during 2004 and 2005 to face the hard facts in Iraq and shift strategy when he might’ve still had a good shot at succeeding, the big record companies did not in 2000 and 2001 begin seriously reinventing themselves for the digital age. And yet in this lame-duck age, where the outmoded doesn’t disappear, 90 percent of music is still sold in the form of aluminum-coated plastic discs.

MTV remains the biggest brand in music, but it missed the digital boat in the years before YouTube and MySpace, back when it had the leverage to keep artists on the reservation. MTV is no longer the cool destination for its demo and never will be again. In the radio business, the paleo-monopolists at Clear Channel hoovered up (and homogenized) broadcast-music stations in the nineties at the very moment broadcast was becoming a lame-duck technology, serving in the bargain as a great appetite suppressant for young record buyers. It amounts to a kind of death-spiraling symbiosis among the largest lame ducks, like Detroit with the UAW, each making life more untenable for the other long-term.

This on the subway listening to David Gray’s “Dead In The Water” with a barefoot homeless dude stretched out across four seats next to me .

Have a nice day.

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