Michael Jackson comes out of a large screen billboard from one side…but wait! He comes out of another large screen on the other side! But then, we see him on the front stage as he holds a pause for a good minute and a half, then breaking composure to look to the other side for another moment, which then breaks into the all time classic “Billie Jean.”
I remember this moment as if it were yesterday. I was eight at the time, and thought this man, Michael friggin Jackson was a god.
Who knew later that one could fall from such grace?
There is something prophetic about this picture. Who knew that a decade later, good ol’ MJ would be considered a heinous sociopath? Well, this was before the internet. Trending thoughts and observations on the matter could not come until years later.
But MJ is not the subject here; trends are.
I grew up in the nineties, went through college in the 00s, and started my career later on. This post is not really about what I became, but what I could have been.
In 2004, I started my studies of being a sound engineer at the local community college. I spent a good four years doing so learning music, engineering, electric theory, and so much more. But it wasn’t what I was doing at school that really mattered (despite earning a degree and getting a job.)
I wanted to get into the music industry. Now, than God I had not. Why was this though? Is it because of corporate greed on one end of the spectrum?
No, it’s what my generation has done. I feel guilty, and I feel like the rest of my compatriots who grew with me through the Clinton and Bush years should feel the same.
You see, in the early 2000s, we were introduced to piracy, or what was called “sharing” back then. We could download our favorite song, our favorite show or movie and get it with the sacrifice of much slower bandwidth than what you and I experience today.
Who the hell knew we were sabotaging our own economy this way?
At this moment, it is fortuitous that “Teenage Wasteland” by The Who came up on my iTunes shuffle right now. Because it was us as teenagers that shaped the future, and now we have earned the title not because of it, but we are the Millenials.
No one thought twice of what we were doing. And big wig bands like Metallica were suing every and any one who was downloading their songs for free. We resented them for coming after us, and the comedians from “Who’s line is it Anyways” was doing a spoof about it on some awards show on VH1 with the line “Dude, it’s free!” *high five*
God, were we so naive to believe that we were entitled to someone’s blood and sweat and tears? Has artistry become so disposable as a toilet paper?
The music industry was once a billion–repeat–BILLION dollar industry. Now, because of our entitlement, songs are sold on iTunes or streamed on Spotify, but none of that profit can compare to what they make touring–which I should mention that tickets have become ridiculously overpriced. Bands who have been signed are lucky enough to be making a six figure salary these days, as compared to pre-millenium.
The same can go with books, or video games, or anything else. If there is one constant with America, is that this country’s main export has always been entertainment. So what happens when that export becomes unprofitable?
Our generation–the Millenials–have signed their own death warrant. And while they are criticizing the previous generation of their over expenditure with credit, our generation is doomed to become drones in data entry in order to succeed in life. Singers, bands, authors, and actors have become nothing more than assets now. They are the slaves of the corporations that rule now.
And it was all because we had to have that song without paying a dime out of our pockets. And thus so, no one will be able to truly make a career out of an art form, unless you win the lottery, or the equivalent of thus.