Friday, July 15, 2011

Students Views On The Changing Music Industry By Ben LoPiccolo

It's no secret that the music business has been changing at a much more rapid pace than ever. Record sales have waned away from their all-time high in the early aughts, and companies and artists have expressed difficulty accommodating to new customs. However, while GRAMMY Campers understand the challenge of a constant shift, they've learned to be versatile enough to start off in the trying industry. I sat down with students from different tracks throughout the week to get their takes on how they were feeling.

"Realistically, [the record business] is at a down point," Vocalist Austin Zudeck acknowledged. "I think we would all agree the live aspect in music is what's making the money. But I don't think any of us are really about the money, we're about the music."

Zudeck's philosophy was shared with the other Vocalists in his track, who all stressed the importance of networking for a stable career, especially when instituting a name for themselves. Their positive attitudes have paid off during the week; each Camper has gotten involved in multiple projects in collaboration with others. Danny Wirick, also an incoming USC Thornton freshman, urged his peers to stay true to their values after they become established.

"A lot of the industry right now is corrupted and they're trying to make you have a certain sound," he began. "As long as you have fans and you know that they love what you're doing, stick with that and in the end it will really pay off."

Songwriter Elise Go, who I met with later, was mutual with Wirick's thought. She questioned the sincerity of some mainstream artists, and pointed out the importance of staying unique in order to succeed with fans not spending as much on records. Go's track mate, Victoria Pritchard, says that she plans to release her music on a major label, but will work to make sure the business does not hinder her creative voice in the writing process.

To get a perspective from an instrumentalist, I asked Keyboardist Evan Rees his opinion on the industry. "I think it's exciting because it's changing," he started. Rees went on to elaborate on his "new school" views, citing social networking as an essential tool along with performing live -- his forte from a strong jazz background -- to get other musicians to know his name.

Perhaps the most eye-opening experience on the subject came with the Camp-wide entrepreneurial panel. "We are currently preparing students for jobs that don't exist using technology that hasn't been invented," speculated GRAMMY Foundation Senior VP Kristen Madsen. The night offered thoughts from individuals both relatively new to the industry and experienced veterans, including Virgin Records co-founder and former EMI Marketing President Phil Quartararo who presented a very simple, yet provocative comment.

"The record industry is heading towards the coffin," he admitted. "But the music business is about to be bigger than it's ever been."

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