I used to enjoy going to my small-town post office, here in Amherst, Massachusetts, because the clerks were so friendly. They would chat amiably with other townspeople, and laugh at small talk, and point with pride at photos of their grandchildren. I never knew any of them personally, but I always enjoyed the folksy tone that they set for the post office.
Is there such a thing as artistic integrity in music-making any more? It depends on where you turn your gaze. As Charles Dickens might say, this is the best of times and the worst of times. The music marketplace is becoming more predictable and sterile even as new Internet-based business models allow fans and artists to connect in healthy -- and yes, profitable -- ways.
Let’s start first with Jon Pareles’ depressing account in the New York Times about the proliferation of marketing tie-ins for new music.