We are in a far worse situation than we were in 1991. Thurston’s part-jokey, part-deadly serious condemnation of the industry then — “When youth culture becomes monopolized by big business, what are the youth to do?” — feels like an understatement today. It’s no longer just about youth culture; it’s all cultural production that’s monopolized by big business. Thirty years of capital consolidation have created monopolies larger and more disconnected from “content” than we could have imagined even at our snottiest in the 90s. The major labels, music mags, and MTV still needed musicians, after all.
But Apple doesn’t – music is the least of their business. Same goes for Amazon. And what Spotify seems to need is to get away from music as fast as it can. With so much attention paid to Tesla’s precipitous fall in value, many seem to have overlooked that Spotify also lost nearly 70% of its market capital this year.
I think this points to something important: Professionally-made music — music you buy, played by musicians you’d pay to see live — is now under the nearly complete control of companies that don’t give a rat’s ass about music or musicians.