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About the State of the Music Industry

Qua Veda | Published on 6/27/2022

I recently watched a 2-part video, and a great interview, with Ted Gioia on "The Crisis in Music".

Ted is a music critic, researcher, historian, musician and author, with an extraordinarily impressive bio.

These videos are deep dives into the state of the music industry from an historical, and musicians’ perspective. They captured my attention as I am just now attempting to learn to play guitar to augment my appreciation of music. Ted listens to a great deal of music and cares deeply about the quality of music and its reproduction and distribution.   Importantly, he looks at trends from 3 important perspectives:  economic, technological, and cultural.


As audiophiles, our vested interests intersect with these trends and perspectives. For this reason, I found Ted’s commentaries fascinating and enriching.


I will highlight a few points Ted makes that I felt were most interesting. There is far too much to cover, so I encourage you to watch the videos if you get curious.

Ted offers a warning on the future of music.

Economic trends:

·      Opportunities for musicians are decreasing. In the 1930’s there were 10’s of thousands of live music venues which are now mostly gone. There has been a corresponding (~90%) decrease in the number of performing musicians.

·      Success today is measured by the number of YouTube views. And viewers are non-paying and are ‘watchers’ more than critical listeners.

·      Most people won’t pay for music anymore.

Technology companies have replaced the role of Music companies.

·      Great art is now valued as simply “content”.  This changes metrics,  value propositions, and business models. Tech giants distribute songs for free to sell more phones, not more music.

·      Would great and very popular musicians of the first half of the 20th century even become known at all today?

Cultural trends

·      Art, poetry, dance, and architecture are being marginalized by the apparent dumbing down of our culture.  E.g., today’s hit songs with the same 4 chords, compressed and autotuned into 1-3 minute durations.

·       Incentives drive the industry to feed the consumer entertainment they want, rather than artists’ inspirations. 

·      Great performances and artistic expressions do not typically flow from committees and  focus groups.


I feel that most audiophiles value, are willing to pay for, quality music reproduction. And it is our intention that the San Francisco Audiophile Foundation will contribute in various ways to make changes for the better.