Music Licensing and Corrupt Music – A New Way to Sell Out

Yesterday’s New York Times has an interesting discussion on the detrimental effects of music licensing on the creation of music itself.

The question is: What happens to the music itself when the way to build a career shifts from recording songs that ordinary listeners want to buy to making music that marketers can use? That creates pressure, subtle but genuine, for music to recede: to embrace the element of vacancy that makes a good soundtrack so unobtrusive, to edit a lyric to be less specific or private, to leave blanks for the image or message the music now serves. Perhaps the song will still make that essential, head-turning first impression, but it won’t be as memorable or independent.

There are plenty of good points brought up over the tricky relationship between commerce and art. It’s a perennial problem that’s manifesting itself in new ways given the shifts in the music industry.

Licensing hasn’t changed how or why I write music, but I have never made any money from licensing.

It seems to me that anything that can be corrupted will be corrupted, but that’s not necessarily terrible. There will always be a new generation of uncorrupted artists, ready to throw themselves off the cliff. I am generally concerned, though, about the increased branding and marketing of everything in this life.

As we seek a perpetually higher standard of living, how can people make more money without increasing the amount of things they sell to other people?

What do you think? Check out the article.