DJ Shadow was interviewed by Wire recently about his new album, his views on art and culture in general and the advent of file-sharing and it’s effects on music. It’s an interesting talk that goes into all sides of the argument, as he has some dual feelings about the whole thing himself:
I just think that the internet has been sold to us as our savior. As a means to create a new economy, as our spiritual salvation, whatever. Everything is supposed to be bigger and better online. But what I think people have lost sight of — and I don’t think the internet has done a good job of self-evaluation in this respect — is the massive shift between the brave new internet world of the late ’90s and now. Its early philosophy seemed to be one where everyone was an individual whose opinions were respected. A decade later, everything is corporate-owned, advertising is incessant, and the diverse opinions of internet commentary are often shouted down. Now there’s much more online groupthink. All I’m trying to do as an individual and an artist is put my hand up and say that maybe it’s time to hover above the chessboard for a minute and evaluate what’s going on here. Certainly, as an artist that has been involved in one of the industries decimated by the internet, I’ve experienced a weird duality. The internet was supposed to democratize communication, but the opposite seems to have happened.
Before you call him another sourpuss who’s afraid to loose a buck and won’t give his fans any leeway or chamge to sample his wares (or paint him “with the Metallica brush” as he calls it) be aware that he does have an informed view on this.
The reality is that when peer-to-peer file sharing became possible and prolific, it removed music sales from the equation. That was like taking the foundation out from under the house. And I think I have a unique perspective on this, given how my career has evolved alongside the internet. Yes, it has opened up many opportunities. But the fact that internet sensations still have to sign with a major to get to the next level speaks volumes about what the internet still can and cannot do. You can be Soulja Boy and become an overnight sensation on YouTube, or however you work your hustle online, but eventually you have to get signed. I have no interest in propagandizing for the majors or dropping a lopsided knock on the internet — I’m just stating what the reality is for any recording artist.
A couple quotes won’t do the whole conversation justice and there are lot more subjects being hit, which is his new album is one of, so hop on over to Wire for the whole deal.