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  • Cited by 1
  • Print publication year: 2004
  • Online publication date: March 2008

18 - To the millennium: music as twentieth-century commodity


In response to the new challenges created by the internet and the converging of communications media, the industry is working very hard on systems of encryption and watermarking and collaborates with the government to set up a strong legal framework and to educate the public about the value of music.

Frances Lowe, Director, British Music Rights, The Performing Rights Society

It is sickening to know that our art is being traded like a commodity rather than the art that it is.

Lars Ulrich, drummer of heavy metal band Metallica

There was this bloke and there was me and we really got along. Our friendship was founded on our mutual passions for pop music, indolence and substance abuse. We would sit around together, heroically stoned, and play records all day long: punk records, soul records, horny disco records like ‘Hot Stuff’ by Donna Summer …

Dave Hill, music journalist

Twentieth-century listening and its spaces

Artists, fans, and the music business share an uneasy but symbiotic partnership. Dave Hill’s homosocial friendship, exploring music not through performance but through listening to purchased recordings, is a deeply twentieth-century subjectivity, reflecting the basic premise of much musical entertainment since the invention of sound recording. This involves a set of paradoxical relationships. For one thing, ‘music’ is a phenomenon that can and perhaps should be considered and enjoyed in and for itself – but to facilitate this enjoyment it has become a commodity, bought, sold, and consumed, to the regret of many composers and performers such as Lars Ulrich.