7 Things Making Musicians (and the Music Industry) Go Out of Business

The music industry - and musicians - are struggling.I recently stumbled across a really interesting documentary – “Unsound.” No, it’s not out yet. In fact, maybe it never will be. Right now, it’s in the funding stages on IndieGoGO and I beseech everyone to go help make it become a reality. Writers, artists, musicians – anyone who does creative stuff needs to donate to the campaign.

It’s not really a donation, anyway, since you get the movie out of the deal.

Unsound is about the increasingly harmful effects of “Free” on the economy – from journalism to music. That’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while, too. Mostly, I want to know why the creative economy is in such peril. So, today, let’s focus on music.

Here’s what’s happening to the industry, and why musicians everywhere are struggling:

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The Robots that Write… and Do Everything Else, Too

3628478929_fccde34d78A while ago, I read the excellent book by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McCafee, Race Against the Machine. Since then, I’ve thought a lot about automation, whether I’m looking at Google’s driverless cars or checking out at CVS through a self-service kiosk.

It’s a weird time to be alive and, if the common wisdom about robots these days is even half-accurate, this is the beginning. The next areas that most people think will be automated include legal work and healthcare. Shipping and manufacturing will continue to get Robotized, too.

That leaves us with an economy that increasingly relies on Creativity as a commodity. But, with new algorithms in place, even the writers and artists and musicians among us may start getting replaced.

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Cover Letters From the Other Side

Reading Time: ~5 minutes

It wasn’t a long drive to Company X’s building, but it was a complicated one that involved a dubiously legal U turn and toll booths that seemed decorative at best. I also got to tour some of West-Of-Boston’s finest pseduo-highways, resplendent in pothole magnifience.

I remember the first time I felt a twist of dread in my stomach – it was when I saw the building. It did not resemble a wet paper bag with windows, it was a wet paper bag with windows. Of course, to be fair, it had just rained. Otherwise, it would have looked like a plain old paper bag.

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Why Major in Humanities?

Reading Time: ~3 minutes

Last year, when Math majors were struggling with a series  to complete their Senior Thesis, I quietly laughed and wrote another short story. But, a year later, maybe the joke was on me.

Really, I can’t tell. I’ve got a job, so I’m more fortunate than most (since 56% of my class of 2010 wasn’t employed by Spring 2011), but even my fellow Humanities majors who also stumbled onto positions have a similar rallying cry: “Wow, I wish I had majored in Business.”

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Bachelor’s Degrees: A Dime A Dozen

It was March 2010 and I was sitting in one of the uncomfortable, steel chairs of my college’s study hall, looking at the decomposing scraps of snow on the sidewalks below and tapping my finger like a metronome against the mouse. Every now and then, I would gaze at the cover letter on the screen in front of me.

Why did I want to work at Company X? Well, since infancy, I had dreamed of selling whatever Company X made, or doing whatever Company X wanted me to do. Right. And I vastly admired that Company X did whatever Company X’s website said it did.

After slapping on a custom-tailored resume to my heartfelt letter, I emailed it, straight down to the bottomless wishing well where all my applications seemed to go – dropping down without even a splash.

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Generation Generalization: Millennials Are The Same As You

Reading Time: ~5 minutes

It didn’t start with the amazingly anecdotal “What Is It About the Twentysomethings?” published in The New York Times last August – which featured a nauseating collage of scrawny young kids that looked like the results of a 12th grade art project – but this sure as hell made it official.

Don’t get involved, I told myself. It’ll blow over. If you complain, you’ll just make yourself a target and people will use select quotes to validate their impression of angry, entitled, slacker millennials.

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