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Ted Gioia is a smart and thoughtful observer of all things musical. His concerns about acquisition of Bandcamp by Epic Games are worth a read:

I have often been critical of the large companies (Google, Apple, etc.) that now control the music business. But let me make clear, I have no objection to them being large. The real problem is that they have higher priorities than music. Apple would give away music for free if it could sell more devices. Google actually does give away music for free (via YouTube) in order to sell advertising. Spotify is more of a pure music company, but its recent investments in podcasting show that it also has higher priorities than the success of recording artists.

All signs indicate that music is getting turned into what businesses call a ‘loss leader’. In this kind of environment, music isn’t expected to make much money, because these tech titans can earn far more by selling related products and services. And that might work for CEOs and other technocrats in Silicon Valley. But what happens if you’re a musician, and you need to make a living while the companies you rely on don’t care much about the profitability of your vocation?

Of course, no tech CEO will publicly declare that songs aren’t important. But just look at how little they have invested in improving their music platforms over the last decade. Everything about these interfaces is subpar—graphics, search capabilities, audio quality, recording details, etc. And year after year passes with little improvement.

Like him, I tend to think that Epic’s assertion that Bandcamp will be allowed to keep operating as a standalone business isn’t worth the paper they didn’t even bother to write it on.

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