In the middle 70s, money flowed like water in the music industry. Check that: it flowed like never ending procession of tsunamis. People were buying music in record numbers every year. Bonuses were fat, drugs were plentiful and groupies were willing. So no wonder no one paid attention to Jacques Atalli.
Atalli was a buzzkill. A big one. He wrote a booke called Noise: The Political Economy of Music in which he espoused what was for the time a very peculiar theory. He believed that one day we would have access to so much music that it would lose all its value.
Wow, huh? Here’s more from the BBC (and thanks to Gaz for the link.)
Back in 1976, the music business looked indestructible.
ABBA, the Beach Boys and Rod Stewart were selling mountains of records and things were only going to get better. Sales grew almost unchecked until 1999 – the most profitable year in the industry’s history.
But at the turn of the century the arrival of the internet and the MP3 file saw revenues collapse, a seismic shift that no-one had seen coming.
No-one? Well, not quite.
Also in 1976, a French polymath called Jacques Attali wrote a book that predicted this crisis with astonishing accuracy. It was called Noise: The Political Economy of Music and he called the coming turmoil the “crisis of proliferation”.
Soon we would all have so much recorded music it would cease to have any value, he said. And that sounds pretty accurate to me – I don’t remember the last time I spent £10 ($15) on a new album.