Celebrating Black Music Month 2011 - Part 3
June 21, 2011
In this, the third in our current series for June, Black Music Month, we reflect back on the progress we've made as a nation, as a society and as an industry.
We continue to recognize our music legends, young and old, who have been at the forefront of the struggle. Men and women who did not believe that challenges should be diluted from musical pioneers who have been involved in America's indigenous music. Unfortunately, ours is a culture that often honors mere fame far more than it does hard achievement. That's one of the reasons June and Black Music Month are important.
The Changing Music Investment
Despite the sagging economy, it's still an exciting time for music. On one hand, we have an explosion of technology. On the other hand, the margins and profits are smaller. There are still mergers and joint ventures taking place. When two or more companies come together the goal is to make a successful fit. When it works, not only will they make investors money, they will be situated to play an important profitable part of the future.
Fortunately, today Black Music and black music makers are part of that money mix.
The consensus among several knowledgeable African-American portfolio managers is that while consumer spending may have dropped, some artists and music are still selling. The television, movie and DVD sector -- which includes cable, motion pictures, video and record production and publishing -- is included in the overall entertainment numbers. Fortunately, the investment climate today will allow African-American investors to pick up their heels and make money at the same time. Fortunately, it's not just music, but entertainment overall that is now part of black music.
Our concern and goal should be to ensure that the generation which replaces the current one will be faster, wiser and better able to make its own contributions. The new generation needs to prepare by setting up institutions that will continue to benefit them and their children as they prepare to grow old and live longer than any other generation.
In today's tough economic times, we can no longer spend what we want and/or not worry about tomorrow. The ultimate baby-boomer philosophy of "we want to have it all" is gone. It has been replaced by realistic thinking. While we would still like to have it all, we know right now that may not be possible. We have been forced to change, yet we're not a generation that has had to deal with the reality of sacrifice, nor one that fully understands and appreciates the benefits of hard work.
We're still part of the same generation that refuses to step aside and sees itself as part of the group that passionately believes that if we adjust, we will continue to prosper. But here's where history comes in.
The origins of the entertainment culture can be traced back to live shows, vinyl records and AM radio, all of which made possible for the first time the development of a genuinely mass musical culture. But until very recently, entertainment was a luxury in which we could indulge upon only on occasion. Now, thanks to new media, it is a daily reality, almost a necessity and certainly, in the minds of many of us, an entitlement.
The clock is ticking. During the remainder of Black Music Month 2011, we should continue to touch on and remember distinguished people and events from all sides of our industries. Some of those who we need to recognize this year are people whose efforts and contributions have enriched lives and whose sacrifices could continue to go unnoticed:
There is a chance that this generation may reclaim its earlier legacy. We could have a second coming in terms of social idealism and find unselfish new ways to contribute that mean something beyond ourselves. In some realms, this new generation already appreciates and takes pride in what they have been bequeathed.
This generation didn't invent the genre, but we were the fans who made it so durable. Even as much of our music remains youth-oriented, today's impatient young "music freaks" can't escape the feeling that they want something more. But they now have to recognize that the performers, media choices and the times have changed.
Although some progress has been made, even since last year we know we still live in a time and country where many of us are deliberately isolated, racially classified and often systematically deprived of both the resources and the opportunities to succeed. For too long and despite our obvious talent and gifts, many of us have been allowed to only assume limited roles in our industries. But we can't give in or give up. Now, more than ever, the path to success leads through education and knowledge.
Finally, Black Music Month allows us to reflect on the rich history of music that we help to create and develop. It's a history that conveys from one generation to another its lessons and obligations. In a very real sense, we are also part of the modern social justice movement. More of us who have the ability need to respond to change and meet the challenge so that we can help to make a difference.
The world is watching both our achievements and our failures. We have to stop tripping and remember the journey is just as important as the destination.
(Next week Part 4 - The Composers)