My wife and I sit in the dark in the morning listening to the radio, listening to a person who’s picking out the songs and talking about them, and she wonders how it’s possible this still exists, now that anyone can get anything they want anytime they want, music-wise.
It’s like the Reformation, she says. I had to go back and look up the Reformation on Wikipedia, because it’s been a long time. The article uses one of my favorite words, schism, which is a kind of breaking off, like a piece of glass snapping or a chunk of ice separating on a frozen lake.
What helped the Reformation — those who opposed tenets of the Catholic church — was the printing press, which had just come to Europe by way of Gutenburg. The printing press enabled the spread of ideas during the Reformation, many taking form as religious pamphlets, perhaps the beginning of the idea of the democratization of knowledge (which leads us back to the role of technology, search engines, Wikipedia).
Remove the priest in the confessional booth, the publishing house, the record label, and you remove the go-between, the agents. The same is true at the grocery store self-scan, though I always pick the line with a checker, because I like human contact. Which is why we listen to the DJ in the dark.