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Music Business: The Question Continues


June 21, 2012
By Mitch Hare

I started teaching music business courses over eight years ago.  Pretty much from the start, the focus  was on illegal downloads.  Of course the real issue is: what’s the value of music?  Good to know we are taking a long hard look at the question to discover the answer to that question.

We used to know exactly how much it cost.  You’d wait to hear the song on the radio a couple of times and try to catch the band’s name and them you’d jump on your bike and ride downtown to the record store where, there it would be, the price.  Seems like I remember $3.99 for an album or something like that.

Now you scan the internet and sample a couple of songs and hopefully buy it for .99 somewhere.  But maybe not.  Maybe you’ll find a download site and grab it for free.  Or rip it from a friend’s collection.  That’s how an intern at NPR described her relationship to the music business transaction. Emily White at NPR has now become the most recent lightening rod for the question surrounding the value of music.  She pretty much writes off her generation’s responsibility to pay for music.

The conversation hasn’t really changed in the years I’ve been teaching music business.  What has changed is that new generations are moving into the  question and it appears at least one is not embracing a move toward a better understanding of the value of music. However,  a counter viewpoint out there is gaining equal attention and presents the enduring question of the value an artist’s work.

So the debate continues.  Hop on your bike and take a stand.

Mitch Hare is the Dean of Media Arts and Production programs for The Institute of Production and Recording and Broadview Entertainment Arts University.