When my son told me he wants to attend a college of digital arts so he could study to become an audio engineer I was uncharacteristically daddy-freaked. My instincts have been to trust my kids to figure what they want on their own time table and see my job as facilitator (you know, check writer) and otherwise stay out of their way. But audio engineer? Why not blacksmith? or watch-maker? or any other dead career choice? Well, turns out my default was right again and, of course, my son knew better than me what was right for him.
You see, during a tour of the school I cornered several instructors and staff and gently but firmly expressed my concerns about this career choice and it took no time at all for these folks to slap my Jurassic ready-for-the-Shalom-Retirement-Home-for-the-Aged-Hippie butt all over the map. The answer, in a word, for all the old farts that haven’t figured it out, duh: games.
It seems the vast majority of grads end up in the gaming industry, which by almost every measure does better business than TV, movies and music combined. It seems one game, “Guitar Hero” has sold more units than all CDs last year, combined. (I don’t have the time to confirm these numbers but they follow the “fourstones’ Law of Half” which states “Even if that’s wrong by +-50% it still blows my mind.”) So sure, that makes sense. I don’t know diddley about gaming but I’m pretty sure they don’t ship too many silent ones.
And all of a sudden every issue regarding the musician’s relationship to the music industry seems like nothing but a bunch of old maids wringing their hands so hard they could start a bonfire. You want distribution? Exposure? My god, how long before the gaming companies sign bands directly without any “label” at all lol? Even old bands like the Cars and Arrowsmith are debuting new material on games. I saw Slash a few months ago on Letterman and he was promoting a video game. Slash. Talk show. Video game. Does anybody over 35 reading this post ever in your wildest dream think these concepts would go together into a sentence?
So shall we wring our hands over the CD vs. download thing a little more? What the role of the “label” is? What about “discovery”? Sony BMG is worth what? 1.2 billion? chicken-fucking-feed lol.
Even on puny little ccMixter, check out the top referrers for the last 12 months: