Music’s diminishing value — only in capitalism.

Music’s diminishing value — only in capitalism.

One could incorrectly surmise that the audio medium has hit cultural lows as its monetary value spirals to zero. Instead music has profoundly grown in importance – as a marker for personal identity. No other art form could attain such a status: there are no more political movements (in its most unpolitical definition) in the name of paintings or statues; populist movies are reduced to products of entertainment, inciting nothing but inane discourse on fantasy. Music burns at the heart, riles people into moving in fantastic and cruel ways, attacking naysayers and reveling within their in-groups. It is not surprising that movie prices will rocket as music becomes more convenient to access, freer — it will always be the eternal, priceless, art, where visual mediums pass on as trite affairs, begging its audiences to delight in repetitive Image-Effects.

How could capitalism contain the music form? Its major advantage is light feet: a musician could meld three or more genres at once, play a single note, remix existing tracks – there is no end to music’s destruction and resulting construction; how could a monetary system that survives in the obfuscation of arbitrary value continue to surround a form that wholly deals in arbitrariness? Music at its most essential is madness incarnate, illogical, and wholly aesthetic. Music is immoral, relishing in beauties that may not be discovered in decades or centuries or millennia, only to be appreciated once another individual has “progressed” or even “regressed” enough — or “moved left”?

Capitalism was successful with music when it could in fact obscure its pricelessness: the days of consolidated production and dissemination, when there was even price to creating something that would be heard — yet this era of physically recorded music was simply a subsection of the entire experience, the consumer subsection. My readers should understand that by tackling the subject of music in the 20th century, where consumption was determined by several companies dedicated to recording, mastering, manufacturing, marketing, and selling of music, I am trapping within the high walls of capitalist/anti-capitalist discourse. Remember my friends: what is visible may not be what is true. Just as the myth of the “successful”, money-making musician pervaded the 20th and 21st centuries – so did the myth of un-success: the decrepit group with no single recorded song, traveling through the United States without one producer discovering them.

And lo and behold capitalist music, conveniently discovered and recorded and mastered and manufactured and marketed and sold to the consuming individual – but did you miss it? Unlike the Marxists and the anti-capitalists, I do not understand all modern music as a product of this mode of production, but I have relegated the phenomenon as just a small slice of the entire pie. The myth that both the capitalists and their “antis” maintained was that the music “industry” solely consisted of that which is “visible” to the public at large. How myopic, how shortsighted, how fearful it must be to think that music could be confined to an economic system — a system not apart of human nature, even when anti-capitalists say it is! For those that have taken the opposite of capitalism are merely working within its confines for negation – I have negated both and have found capitalist music to be such a small part of the whole experience!

How fearful it must be! And how frightful for anti-capitalists to discover that their efforts were so small, for their adversary determines so little of music and culture at large — that they have swum among shallow waters and ignored the darker depths of greater self-honesty. At times that which is discussed does not exist — but does it occur to these people that topics not discussed – may indeed exist? The “unknown unknown”, as Donald Rumsfeld said; that which is still “invisible”, murky, cold, and unfamiliar. May the anti-capitalist look away from the honesty of the world outside of Capitalism!

Then let us be honest: “visible” music resides in a digitized ocean froth carried around via fiber wire and radio waves and copper cables. And let us be honest that the “invisible” may choose to piggyback on the Information Age’s technological currents, but may also — more commonly, choose  — the air between musicians and their appreciators. Live, local shows, “invisible” openers for “visible” bands, attended by invisible friends, family, and supporters; invisible communications at parties and gatherings, discussing new ideas for music and rejection of the old; invisible house shows at which audiences can discover a new sound while supporting their own. The death in the public space may be attributed to Capitalism – but has it been attributed to the private passions of individuals for their arts?

Human nature may have been visibly drawn to the convenience of Capitalist products, with music included. Capitalist music is a drop in the bucket compared to an art tradition forged over tens of thousands of years. The vanity of economic skeptics! To think that they could own a part of human nature -—rhythm and melody — and to think that one would have to resist those that were supposedly in control!

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