Unravelling the Knot

More Notes

Here's the second (of ten) brief thoughts on Commercial Worship Music (CWM).

Commodification of art

Once, musical training was regarded as a mark of a good upbringing. What's more, Music was once considered one of the highest arts and most worthy subjects of study--next to Theology itself.

My, how times have changed! How did we get here? One answer could be found examining the effects of "commercialization."

The "music industry" as we know it is relatively young (probably beginning in the mid-1700s in England), beginning with the appearance of printed sheet music and mass-market instruments, through the invention of recorded music, the dissemination of recordings and audio equipment, all the way to today's youtube culture. In that relatively brief time span, we've seen music become something that's almost entirely regarded in terms of its commercial value, a product to be bought and sold.

As market segmentation became normal (becoming mature in the 20th century), all things were equalized: if you wanted "classical" music, and you'll find recordings right next to the "rock and roll" section of the record shop. The grand equalizer of the market essentially "compressed" the distinction between high- and low- arts (not my term), giving everyone equal weight.

Now, the merits of a particular piece cannot be discussed--it is verboten--but you can look at the performance of various market segments and compare, in an 'objective' way, their economic value.