Monday, January 18, 2010

Brian Eno quote of the week

Paul Morley – yes, he’s still with us – interviews the ever-articulate Brian Eno, the thinking musician’s thinking non-musician, about, as always, everything. It’s fabulous. Two snippets:

On listening:
If you think of the mid- to late-50s when all of this started to happen for me, the experience of listening to sound was so different from now. Stereo didn’t exist. If you listened to music outside of church, apart from live music, which was very rare, it was through tiny speakers. It was a nice experience but a very small experience. So to go into a church, which is a specially designed and echoey space, and it has an organ, and my grandfather built the organ in the church where we went, suddenly to hear music and singing was amazing. It was like hearing someone’s album on a tiny transistor radio and then you go and see them in a 60,000-seater. It’s huge by comparison. That had a lot to do with my feeling about sound and space, which became a big theme for me. How does space make a difference to sound, what’s the difference between hearing something in this room and then another room. Can you imagine other rooms where you can hear music? It also made a difference to how I feel about the communality of music in that the music I liked the most, singing in church, was done by a group of people who were not skilled – they were just a group of people, I knew them in the rest of the week as the coal man and the baker.
On the end of an era:
I think records were just a little bubble through time and those who made a living from them for a while were lucky. There is no reason why anyone should have made so much money from selling records except that everything was right for this period of time. I always knew it would run out sooner or later. It couldn’t last, and now it’s running out. I don’t particularly care that it is and like the way things are going. The record age was just a blip. It was a bit like if you had a source of whale blubber in the 1840s and it could be used as fuel. Before gas came along, if you traded in whale blubber, you were the richest man on Earth. Then gas came along and you’d be stuck with your whale blubber. Sorry mate – history’s moving along. Recorded music equals whale blubber. Eventually, something else will replace it.


Paul said...

"The thinking musician’s thinking non-musician;" nicely put.

Mark Broatch said...

I suspect he's right about recorded music, so might have the gift of fore-hindsight. For pity's sake, what will happen to the radio stations!?

Stephen Stratford said...

I imagine that however the market changes there will still be recorded music, just as there is still whale blubber. Of course, these days all rights are retained by the whales.

Anonymous said...

Yes, there will be recorded music. But can anyone make a buck out if, let alone a living?

Paul said...

I think under the Business Model invented by the downloaders as justification for their downloading, musicians will provide recorded music free of charge. They might still be able to make some money from live performances; thus they will be required to tour constantly so that the downloaders can enjoy free entertainment in the comfort of their own homes.

Stephen Stratford said...

Yes, Paul, but there is a huge difference between what a musician can deliver in a studio or on ProTools or whatever, and what he/she can deliver live. I have done both and the experience for both musician and audience cannot ever be the same, unless you are U2 or Madonna.

So I think that musicians will still have to record, and they will still have to charge for it. Simply because what you - OK, I - download for free from Pirate Bay or Limewire has no value; what you - OK, I - download from iTunes or eMusic does have value, and we are more likely to listen again to the tracks we paid for rather than the ones we stole.

Paul said...

What I was thinking is that bands used to tour to promote the album but, if nobody pays for recorded music, bands will have to tour just to make a living.

I have met people who would not think of paying for music. I fear they are the future.