The World In Its Hands


Some will like it more and others less but the music industry as we knew it in the XX Century has disappeared.  Internet and its immediate effect have kidnapped the sound systems of the new generations and consumer habits have changed radically.

When I was a teenager I could consider myself lucky if I managed to get a couple of original vinyls per month.  With the total invested by my circle of closest friends maybe I was able to listen to five or six new releases.  No more than that.  To get anything more you had to really work at it and try to get a fanzine to accept your collaboration or try to pull a fast one on a record shop with whatever scam of the moment. We were so desperate that I remember at university we set up a system of loans among the students in order to increase our collections with TDK tapes.

But it is also true that the fruit of that shortage is that we developed a good criteria. You had to think, long and hard about what you were going to invest your savings of the month in, and once you had done it you had to listen to your record many times in order to make it profitable.  In those days you listened to the latest record you had bought over and over again.  You could be paying your mistake for months!!

Because of this people’s tastes became much more sectarian.  Generally speaking people knew more or less about one style of music and the bands that represented it and they became fans of those types of artists.  As you grew up styles varied and you ended up getting a broader vision of the history of music.  But the truth is, that in the 80s if you were around twenty years old and were into music you normally belonged to one of the existing tribes.  At the end of the eighties and beginning of the nineties this started to change, in part thanks to the popularisation of the compact disc and also because the western economy was improving.

But it wasn’t until the beginning of this century that everything changed radically with the arrival of ADSL connections to our homes.  Suddenly people can access with just one click, for a price that is perhaps too reasonable (not free mind you) to a global file that includes nearly all the music released in the last hundred years.  Incredible.  And of course consumer habits vary.  I don’t know if for better or for worse, but it is clear that the way that the new generations come in contact with culture in general is very different to how we did in our time.

Anyway I think it is a very important change and that in the future we will be able to measure the success of a company by the access that they have to all that information.

What is absolutely clear is that the music industry that has been incapable of reacting positively to the challenges that this technological progress has produced is now completely obsolete.  The old ways of making money have shot down and the system has suffered so much that it has disappeared.  The old model of promotion where one label was the centre of everything has gone and nowadays bands need to look for new channels of distribution and to rely, more than ever, on live music.

The world of live music festivals has also been affected by this change.  The average festivalgoer is much better informed than 25 years ago and for this reason they are much more open to assimilating new proposals.  The programmer of a festival needs to know how to adapt to these new times and to be prepared to act as a filter between the huge quantity of music produced nowadays and their public.  Small and medium bands must stop being mere extras and become the real pull of a festival.

This is ideal for Primavera Sound and similar events that have been doing this for years.  Our experience tells us that more and more people enjoy what is on offer on the most alternative stages and that the spaces dedicated to new proposals will grow from year to year as the public is much more demanding.

Next Tuesday at midday we will announce another batch of confirmations. These bands will play on the ATP stage.  And it is precisely this type of band that has to make the next edition a success.  We cannot hide behind big names; our obligation as programmers of Primavera Sound is to get it right.  That’s the story these days and that’s ok with us.


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