Wired is one of my favorite magazines. It makes me humble. It makes me realize that I don’t know squat about anything. I think I’ve got a handle on the changes our society is going through… and then I read Wired and realize that I’m some backwoods peon.
The most recent edition of Wired is a great example. Much of the issue is devoted to the changes about to take place in the music scene. What interests me most about all of this, besides the radical upheavals about to take place in culture, is the correlation these coming changes have with the church over the next generation. I contend that the church that emerges in this rapidly shifting culture will need to heed the lessons of the North American music industry.
In the article "The infinite Album" by Eric Steuer (ES), the future of music is envisioned by Beck, a creative- alternative artist (Wired, 09/06) This interview is just a foretaste, but take these thoughts to whet your appetite:
ES: Such is the future of the album, as envisioned by Beck; it’s something to be heard, seen, and reconstituted by artist and audience alike… Guero, with all its various versions and releases, seems to have heralded the end of the album as we know it.
Beck: There are so many dimensions to what a record can be these days. Artists can and should approach making an album as an opportunity to do a series of releases- one that’s visual, one that has alternate versions, and one that’s something the listener can participate in or arrange and change. It’s time for the album to embrace the technology.
ES: Isn’t all that repackaging just about making ways to sell more product?
Beck: I guess that’s part of it, but for me it’s more about giving the music legs, giving people new ways to experience it. There are so many ways to integrate technology into music; I can’t wait to see how the opportunities end up being put to use… I’d love to put out an album that you could edit and mix and layer directly in iTunes… in an ideal world, I’d find a way to let people truly interact with the records I put out- not just remix the songs, but maybe play them like a videogame.
ES: Any other ideas?
Beck: Well, cover art and all the paraphernalia that come with albums have always been really important to me. I’m one of those people who needs a visual crutch for music. But that stuff is being devalued, since so many people listen on their computers. I’ve been toying with the idea of replacing album art with moving graphics that would pop up on your computer when you played songs from the album.
ES: Do you ever get nostalgic for the albums of old, the LP and all that?
Beck: Sure, I’m something of a traditionalist, so I have a soft spot for a record with just a standard side A and side B. But there’s simply more room for information with digital media, and it would be ridiculous not to take advantage of that. It’s sort of like the difference between a wire recording and a piano roll and a cassette tape. They’re all different formats, and they inspire different approaches… The idea is to provide something that calls for interactivity and that’s totally different from what you’ll have if you just download the album.
ES: Do you really even need a label anymore?
Beck: It’s hard to say what will happen with all that. Record labels definiately aren’t going to go away, but it’ll be really interesting to see how their role changes.
In relation to the church… here are my some of my initial questions stemming from this interview: Will “church” as we know it be needed in the next generation? How might or how should the church’s role change? What implications does the shift in the music industry have for our methods of ministry? What direct impact will the changes in music have on changes in our approaches to worship, media, interactivity, participation… etc?