Steve Albini Calls Online Music Sharing the Best Thing Since Punk Rock

The analogue producer says that record labels are now "essentially irrelevant."

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Producer Steve Albini has called online music sharing the best thing since punk rock.

Speaking to Quartz - via Billboard - Albini commented: "The single best thing that has happened in my lifetime in music, after punk rock, is being able to share music, globally for free. That's an incredible development."

He added that the rise of online sharing is "extremely democratic" and is on its way to making labels "irrelevant", giving consumers much more choice. He explained: "Record labels, which used to have complete control, are essentially irrelevant. The process of a band exposing itself to the world is extremely democratic and there are no barriers. Music is no longer a commodity, it’s an environment, or atmospheric element. Consumers have much more choice and you see people indulging in the specificity of their tastes dramatically more. They only bother with music they like."

Albini concluded that the internet has been "tremendously good" for bands and audiences "but really bad for businesses that are not part of that network, the people who are siphoning money out. I don't give a fuck about those people."

A member of Shellac, Albini runs the Electrical Audio studio in Chicago and is famous for only recording bands on analogue equipment.

33 comments sorted by best / new / date

    He is right, leave the business out of music
    As long as music is produced and distributed it will always be a sort of "business". What's good here is putting the business further into the hands of the people actually making the music.
    Epi g-310
    My only gripe with it is that there's an element of classism to this - music that gets published through the internet is almost totally going to be bred out of a group of people who have access to computers, software, good recording gear and instruments. Labels have historically been the only avenue through which working class genres of music have entered the mainstream. Labels suck, and they're exploitative, obviously, but I worry that their absence might lead to an even greater void of reality and emotion in music.
    Access to internet is actually cheaper than buying records in some countries, like mine. You can get a few hours of internet for 5 bucks, but you can't buy a record with that.
    This is the type of thing that I've believed since Napster came out. If these "so-called musicians" are so pissed that they cant make money off their music, apparently they arent in it for the passion of music. As a Punk musician, I love keeping my day job and playing at night. Thats REAL passion for music. Online sharing is what makes people listen to your music, its free, so who is going to really pass it up?
    While I agree with you that people shouldn't be in music just for the money, the financial aspect is still very important. People take music as a given far too often; we play unpaid gigs for "exposure" and if we get paid, we're selling out. Personally, I would play every gig I get for free, but providing entertainment is a service and should be paid for as such. I agree with you about passion and about online music sharing, but there is no shame in wanting to make actual money off of your music.
    Sounds a tad naive. You need to earn a living and there's nothing wrong with making a lot of money from your hard work
    There's a big difference between making a living through hard work and getting filthy rich by plundering the work of others. Major labels and their constituents want their customers (and potential customers) to think that it will be the end of music if bands and small labels control their own business. It's a lie...
    It's partly true, but i think it's unfair to say that the Labels aren't working, they pour a lot of money, time and effort into promotion and the can help bands up the production values on records and live shows. It's not all bad, but obviously there's also a lot of negative stuff going on.
    Yeah, everyone who has a guitar, a webcam mic and an internet connection can make music, good for the little guy, but for the major acts or someone who's trying to make some decent money and not have to work again to support what they really love doing, it can be a real pain in the ass. Its good for the hobbyist and I sure as hell don't mind, in fact I have a home studio; But for the rest of us who dream of having Van Halen status through hard work, dedication and investment, it can kinda suck not having a major label supporting you. Music itself is not a business, but you won't get anywhere without the business.
    Sleaze Disease
    Agreed 100%. Not everybody wants to be in a broke indie band playing to just the other broke indie bands on the bill at the local bar every weekend for their entire life.
    Did this news story get lost in all the Y2K hoopla and just now surfaced?
    He's right... the more musicians and fans can keep music away from major labels the better.
    In a world where everything is a business, no music...You wouldnt spent tons of $ to get nothing in exchange
    I agree with him, he put it so perfectly. It's very atmospheric now. Major label artists complain of this because it hurts their wallet personally. However for music and art has a whole this is wonderful. Music is no longer controlled by labels, meaning artists can be free to put out the sounds they want. Think about how much control producers used to have on young bands, this gives power to artists. Not rich artists however, and that is why you see guys like Metallica and Prince spreading the wrong message. As a result music sharing is looked at in a negative light.
    Wait in your entire life punk rock is the 2nd best thing to happen to music?
    Punk rock is 1st, music sharing is 2nd
    Where does sliced bread fit in there?
    "The single best thing that has happened in my lifetime in music " Sliced bread probably didn't impact music in his opinion.
    No need to yell we can see what you're saying just fine without the caps lock.
    It was the same in the 70's and 80's, and 90's. What's your point?
    It's great, but getting noticed amongst the lines of text on a screen is the biggest hurdle.