Op-Ed: All Industries Run in Cycles

Everyone is so worried about the state of the music industry and it just continues to bother me. I am young, but I know this: Everything works in cycles. Everything. Music tastes, the state of the economy, housing markets, exchange rates, skinny jeans... Some of these cycles are longer than others, but they are cycles regardless. Business preferences will work the same way: Big business vs. self employment, centralized vs. decentralized management organization, huge salaries vs. intrinsic incentives.Technological advance and general innovation affect the tools used within the cycle and the speed at which it flows (mp3s, the Internet, loans, spandex...) but the cycle continues nonetheless. 

Every industry is experiencing cut backs at the moment. Meaning, if you can do it with three, why pay four? Granted, the music industry has been on this path for a few months (or years) longer, but everyone is leaning towards the so-called DIY route. The Wall Street Journal published an article today that tried to dissect where the music industry is going today based on some words of a few musicians at SXSW. It mentioned a "broken industry" and how artists want "creative control." I love WSJ, but besides being fairly uninformative, it was dated. These things have been analyzed to death at industry panels for years.  

The industry is not broken, it is just changing. It's time for some innovation, and we're getting there. As far as creativity, I'm willing to bet artists have always wanted creative control, but it was easier to give up a bit of control as compromise for not having to do the dirty business work. There is no doubt that business-acute musicians exist. However, just beause you can do it doesn't mean you are the best or you want to. When times are good, you outsource. You hire a secretary for your law practice so you can focus on your craft instead of answering distracting phone calls every five minutes. You pay a college kid to post flyers all around the East Village instead of wasting your own afternoon doing the tedious work. When times are a little tougher, you do it yourself.

Call it DIY, call it more control, call it whatever you want. The music industry is not this special case scenario. I'm not suggesting we all sit back and wait for the cycle to get back to the late-90s golden era. That will not happen anytime soon, if ever again. I am suggesting we stop analyzing what has happened or what could happen and just start doing. That might just be my mode of operation, but the possibilities are so wide open right now and I find it difficult to sit back and watch it happen.