I don’t really know what to make of this David Byrne article he wrote for The Guardian. I consider the man a hugely intelligent person who often presents other ways of viewing things… but in this instance I’m just not sure what his point is. He claims that mass availability will lead to the death of creative content and even the creative industries to some extent, but as countless people have proven that’s only the case if you’re viewing it within all the existing models that are out there. As Nicholas Jaar proved in his recent interview, there’s plenty of people finding models outside of the monopolies. It also doesn’t help that numerous figures he quotes in the piece have since been debunked as wildly inaccurate; it leaves Byrne open to criticism that he’s now speaking on a topic without full grasp of the facts.
I realise that makes me sound like I’m fully defending streaming media. I’m not; I accept that it could be argued that artists are getting ripped off in the context of this. Equally though, as Byrne himself acknowledges, that’s happened forever. That’s not to justify it happening – but in amidst that happening for centuries artists have still broken through, become successful and made a lot of money. It simply isn’t as black-and-white as he paints it out to be. I fear I’m starting to sound like a stuck record in saying this, but at some point this conversation needs to turn into a more constructive one in which ways to support artists and deliver revenue back are discussed and explored.