Music's future? Consider poetry

Stephen Baker

Poets, in the 19th century, were stars. If People Magazine had existed back then, Lord Byron, with his wildly fluctuating weight and pansexual appetites, would have been a supermarket staple. If you told people then that the poetry industry would shrivel onto one small and lonely shelve in a superstore, they might have asked: But where will people get their poetry?

Where indeed? From music, I'd say. From TV commercials, from movies. My children recite lines of Ali G and Dumb and Dumber as near sacred texts. They correct each other on wording and intonation. This is their poetry.

The point? We don't need the kind of stand-alone, star-making music industry we've grown up with. In an age of convergence, what's the point? Music, like poetry, will be bundled in other offerings. In American Idol, for example, TV creates the stars and the music industry. like some back-office operation, just handles the technical stuff (ie. the notes).

Jon Fine, a mainstream scribbler, but also a guitar player rocking in music's long tail, laments the effect of ringtone economics on music. One of the commenters on his blog, Don, says:

If the Napster generation gets hooked on songs over stars, then people with an intense need for stardom will go elsewhere and with it an ego-centered style of music. Imagine David Bowie just deciding to go into movies instead of inventing his crazy stardust world.