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The Continued Rise of The Tastemakers

I always found it amusing how DJ’s have become the ultimate “rock stars.”  As a trained composer, musician, it was baffling to me that someone who picks the songs could be more celebrated than the one who actually made the songs.  But I guess in this age of information torrents where we need a guide to lead us through the jungle of bit overload, we cling to our beacons.  O tells us how to live.  Martha tells us what’s good.  Mark tells us what to eat as does Michael.    LP tells us where to get lost.  Steve tells us what’s cool.  And iLike and Last.fm and Pandora tell us what to listen to.  These so-called “hub people/organizations” are the tastemakers (and blow-uppers) of the world.  What they ordain as cool is so and very profitably so.  Consumption is so complicated.

There was a time when the creators of art and culture were given (some) glory, fame and treasure.  Quickly,  the distributors became the ones where wealth accumulated.  Big record labels and film studios acting as banks, financed filming/recording, production, distribution and marketing to create mega-stars and mega-profits.

Then technology came and made barriers to entry of recording, production and distribution very very low.  Witness the latest versions of GarageBand, iMovie, and the distribution services TuneCore and CDBaby.  You can now record an odd quote from a celebrity (or even a hiccup) add a phalanx of digital orchestra members and upload for sale on iTunes within minutes.  (Well, the actual approval process at iTunes can take several weeks.)  Films can be created out of your handheld digital camera and boosted to YouTube within minutes.

So last week’s announcement of the sale of iLike to MySpace for somewhere between $20 and 50 million dollars is the latest in the shift in power from the distributors to the tastemakers.

In the classic film, The Graduate, the wise career advice given the young Dustin Hoffman was “plastics.”  I guess today’s wise words would be “Google.”

Library science never sounded so cool.

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Andrew Ingkavet, aka The Head Monk, is a former MTV-VJ now film composer, music producer and audio brand specialist who leads 300 Monks, an audio agency in New York.

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