Live concerts, internet are music industry's future

By Prabhat Sharan

Mumbai, May 2 (IANS) Live concerts and music on the internet will be key to the music business of the future, feels Ralph Christoph, an electronics music expert from Germany who is scouting for talent in India.

Christoph, founder of the German music festival called "Cologne on Pop" or c/o pop, popularly known as the 'Woodstock of Europe', said the music industry at present "is going through one of the most dramatic paradigm shifts in its history".

"Within a few years, the physical business will disappear and what will remain is the internet and of course live concerts," Christoph told IANS in an interview. He is touring India on behalf of Goethe-Institut, delivering lectures on electronic music production and scouting for musical talent.

Elaborating on the changing face of the music arena, Christoph cited the example of pop diva Mariah Carey's recent album, which had an initial sale of "just 450,000". Earlier it would have easily touched five million.

"It is precisely for this reason that pop star Madonna focuses and concentrates more on live concerts than on album sales. After all the ticket prices are going up. It is a worldwide phenomenon."

It is to meet these crucial changes in the music world that the festival was launched and "c/o pop now plays a pivotal role in bringing together creative artists and online music traders on one platform, where big music industry giants do not have a say," he said.

"In c/o pop 2007, the total number of independent music structures was 1,200. By independent music structures we mean small and medium-sized companies offering music free of charge on the internet. Based on the hits and strikes, the companies later organize concerts. In Europe this is the trend. Today's internet-reared generation does not pay for music. Except for concerts," he said.

Recounting the history of the band, fast acquiring a status in the continental urban music circuit, Chirstoph said that though it started on a small scale five years ago, the c/o pop 2007 "became one of the most important festivals in the field of pop music. From Afrobeat to German electronic to Italo disco, the platforms and clubs just became a platform for the development of international networks."

As Germany was the pioneer in electronic music production, Christoph pointed out that apart from the creative artists and talent buyers, even technical producers thronged the town during the jamboree.

This year, the festival is focusing on the eastern world.

The c/o 2008 has been named 'The Asia-Pacific Platter, 2nd course'.

"One of the reasons behind my visit to this sub-continent is that in India music is an integral part of the celluloid world and though the electronic music has already made inroads, its importance is yet to seep in. And I want to talk about this technology of music.

"In today's music scene, the composition and the rendition are interlinked. The composer rarely uses pencil and paper for composing a piece. A sketch is put into a computer and the ear decides which of the variables will bloom," he said.

Isn't too much of reliance on computers and software programmes gradually snuffing out creativity?

"I do not think so. Computer programme is only an instrument, like a piano that needs an artist to bring out the beauteous sound of symphony. It is my feeling that no machine can ever make a composition. There are a host of factors that underlie a musical piece. A composition is not just a set of randomly jumbled up musical variables," Christoph summed up

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