The Guardian: Steve Albini on the surprisingly sturdy state of the music industry – full transcript (2014)
Steve Albini is the producer (he prefers the term “recording engineer”) behind several thousand records. He is also a member of the band Shellac. In 1993, he published The Problem with Music, an essay expounding his belief that the major label-dominated industry of the time was inefficient, exploited musicians and led to below par music. On Saturday he gave the keynote address at Melbourne’s Face the Music conference in which he celebrated the fact the internet had both dismantled this system and addressed its inequalities:
I’m going to first explain a few things about myself. I’m 52 years old, I have been in bands continuously, and active in the music scene in one way or another since about 1978. At the moment I’m in a band, I also work as a recording engineer and I own a recording studio in Chicago. In the past I have also been a fanzine writer, radio club DJ, concert promoter and I ran a small record label. I was not terribly successful at any of those things, but I have done them, so they qualify as part of my CV.
I work every day with music and with bands and I have for more than 30 years. I’ve made a couple thousand records for independent bands and rock stars, for big labels and small ones. I made a record two days ago and I’ll be making one on Monday when I get off the plane. So I believe this puts me in a pretty good position to evaluate the state of the music scene today, as it relates to how it used to be and how it has been.
We’re all here to talk about the state of the music scene and the health of the music community. I’ll start by saying that I’m both satisfied and optimistic about the state of the music scene. And I welcome the social and technological changes that have influenced it. I hope my remarks today will start a conversation and through that conversation we can invoke an appreciation of how resilient the music community is, how supportive it can be and how welcoming it should be…