Thursday, August 2, 2012

"I think records were just a little bubble through time and those who made a living from them for a while were lucky. There is no reason why anyone should have made so much money from selling records except that everything was right for this period of time. I always knew it would run out sooner or later. It couldn’t last, and now it’s running out. I don’t particularly care that it is and like the way things are going. The record age was just a blip. It was a bit like if you had a source of whale blubber in the 1840s and it could be used as fuel. Before gas came along, if you traded in whale blubber, you were the richest man on Earth. Then gas came along and you’d be stuck with your whale blubber. Sorry mate – history’s moving along. Recorded music equals whale blubber. Eventually, something else will replace it."-- Brian Eno, The Guardian, January 17 2010

Not surprised to see Eno subscribe to "inevitabilism"... as discussed in this review I did of A Year With Swollen Appendices, politically he does seem aligned with "a socially progressive, 'kinder' capitalism (long-term planning, improved design) insofar as he participates in the Global Business Network, a future-scenarios development group founded by Stewart Brand and Peter Schwartz." Inevitalism (a.k.a "sorry mate -- history's moving along") accords with the ethos of flexibility that Eno adheres to: he's a pioneer of "creative" as non-specialised, transdiciplinary career designation, always keeping your options open, staying mobile, evading commitment.  Adapt or die, because History is an unfolding catastrophe and there's no point in swimming against the current.

Still, that doesn't mean you need to be smugly fatalistic about the vagabond-isation of an entire of class of artists who once made a modest livelihood off the selling of recordings, along with the small companies and small stores who produced and sold those recordings...  Especially if you happen to be someone whose rise owed a huge amount to that recordings-based system...  a system that, in addition to subsidising or otherwise enabling him to to make a shitload of  not-obviously-commercial records of his own using expensive studios  and expensive musicians, but also provided a great number of lucrative production jobs (that in turn probably subsidised a lot of the more esoteric and experimental projects).  Where would Eno be now without the recordings-based industry? Probably somewhere pretty cool and fairly prosperous, given his multi-talents. But the equivalents of the pre-Roxy Eno today, what are their prospects?  Probably about as good as today's equivalents to the pre-signed-to-Island U2.... 

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