This is the end. The last spring break. And while most people hear the words "spring break" and think of drunk college kids taking shots off of each other on their parents dime in some awful beach bar in Florida, mine will be a bit different. I'll be hosted by Richard M. Daley in Chicago for the first half of the week and then I'll play guest to the distinguished Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City for the other half. Additionally, thanks to the cheap airline tickets I got, I'll be visiting lovely Atlanta three times over the course of the week.
I just finished reading Everything Bad is Good for You by Steven Johnson. The basic idea is that instead of entertainment slowly becoming dumber and simpler and turning our minds to mush, video games and reality TV and the newer television shows like 24 are becoming increasingly complex and as a result our brains are becoming sharper. It's really interesting and I recommend picking it up. The one form of pop culture that it didn't deal with however, is music.
If you read Blink, you are aware of how the music industry does their best with market research to make sure something is going to be a hit before radio stations will play it. This has caused pop music to become simple and bland and safe, and after reading this book its clear that this is part of the reason why there is a consumer rebellion against the old model of the record industry.
TV shows have grown so complex and entertaining that people will now buy them to watch over and over again. Movies have taken this route too. So have video games. But pop music is doing its best to stay as simple as possible to appeal to the masses. People enjoy it the first few times around, but after that they drop it and move on. There's nothing there to get people to hang around, and therefore maybe people are stealing it because unconsciously they don't feel that it is worth paying for. I've never heard bands like Medeski, Martin and Wood complain about people pirating their music. In fact they even encourage people to record their live shows. But even with all of the live show trading that goes on, their fans will still pay for the new material when it comes out. Bands like Medeski show the value of complexity in success today. Music has to have some complexity to keep people's attention, to earn their dollar, because without it they get bored and move on to pirating whatever top-40 hit is next in line.
Proof that celebrity endorsment alone does not a good ad make.