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July 23, 2010

It's not about you, it's about me ...

During the Renaissance the influence of the Church declined and the feudal system saw secular power concentrated into the hands of a few noblemen. These nobles offered the people protection from ambitious neighbours, famine, and pestilence in exchange for their loyalty and a feed.

Kings, princes and dukes competed for the services of the finest troubadours, composers, and musicians to show their subjects and neighbours that their courts were more beautiful and refined than the rest.

Similarly, municipal musicians were employed to perform in town marches and parades - often on a pro-am basis - to boost the pride of townsfolk.

This continued into the Baroque period, which saw some of the greatest Western composers: Bach, Handel, and Vivaldi, who were hired by the most influential rulers to compose, teach and train their court's orchestra. It was only the patronage of the rich that allowed the brilliance of these musicians to shine.

Throughout this period, the emphasis for court performers was always on NEW music to impress visitors with their employer's style and ability to keep ahead of the Joneses.

Commoners who were not invited to the Palace attended the first commercial opera houses, at which new works were staged by the most capable entertainers for whom the courts did not have a place.


Music's beauty and innovation have been used to sell power. Thus, value accrues to those who can afford the most prolific and in-demand music-makers because they control access to the best musical experiences.

Kings and Queens really dig having Elton John play for them.

This post is the summary of Part 1 of Dr Huge's "How the record industry got it so wrong". The latest version of the complete ebook can be downloaded here and a hard copy can be ordered here.
Posted by DrHuge at July 23, 2010 12:51 PM

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