Breaker of Music Industry Laments Breakage of Music Industry

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


mojo-photo-mtv.jpgToday in the Riff‘s Head-Spinning Irony Department, it’s the first part of MTV.com’s 3-part series, “The Year the Music Industry Broke.” Sure, lots of people have been saying it’s been a tough year for record sales or for record company employees, but tell us, MTV, how bad is it?

Make no mistake about it, 2007 was a b-a-a-a-d year for the industry. According to Nielsen SoundScan, album sales were down 15 percent from 2006 (a trend that’s continued for eight straight years now); big-name artists jumped ship in increasingly complicated — and messy — ways; and the powers-that-be seemed to get even more heartless and disconnected, thanks to a series of lawsuits, feuds and terrible decisions. In fact, you could probably say that 2007 was Year Zero. Things started to change because they couldn’t possibly get any worse.

The article continues by detailing a few truly landmark moments (Paul McCartney leaving EMI for Starbucks, Radiohead doing something or other on the internet) and listing a bunch of random stuff (Stars made their album available for download kind of early!) and adding it all up to “death of industry.” It’s tough to sort out the conflicting emotions one has reading this stuff: yes, the music industry has screwed up royally over the last few years, and there were some high-profile ship-jumpers, but I’m not sure how the Eagles’ Wal-Mart-only LP hitting #1 is a sign of the apocalypse. And of course, not so very long ago, there were those who said MTV’s reorientation of popular music towards hot babes was part of the problem, and these days the only music you hear on Music Television is in the background of “The Hills.” But the very fact that somebody at MTV is allowed to bite the hand that feeds (to grudgingly reference Nine Inch Nails again) could be as big a sign as any of the end of the industry as we know it.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest