The first of the six fundamentals of the Manifesto for a 21st Century Music Industry holds the central idea of the entire work. If we believe that "music is art" then we will be able to build an industry that is more exciting than the old one that has been crumbling over the past decade.
Music is art.
On the surface this seems obvious and irrefutable. Yet we tend not to think about music in this way. The industry has been working for decades to position music as a retail object.
What is art? It was Seth Godin's book Linchpin which helped me to finally develop clarity. His idea is that we can all be artists, indispensable creators, no matter what we do - and that as artists we create gifts. In the music industry, this is now more important than ever. Music has existed longer than capitalism. Human beings have always been inspired to express themselves through rhythm and sound. It is almost a basic need, found in every culture. Music is universal to the human condition.
Yet music has become a commodity. It's now a product, made by others, for purchase. There is no issue with the idea that creators of art should be rewarded for their work financially, but the intention of music's creation seems to now be focused around how much money can be made - not on the gift it brings to our society.
Something I often hear from musicians is that they are concerned about music being "devalued". This usually comes up when discussing giving away their music for free, streaming services, or people downloading tracks without paying for them.
My response is that value cannot be derived from a price tag. Music is so much more than a retail object. It creates change, inspires, makes us dance and cry. How can we then only feel validated as artists by the receipt of cash - by making what we have created into a product with a price point lower than a tube of toothpaste?
Music is art. You create it, and you give it value. It is not solely a commodity for your own commercial gain. A fundamental of the new music industry.