T-Bone Burnett: Musos, stay off the net!

A plea to return to analog recording

T-Bone Burnett says new artists who decide to keep their recorded music off the interwebs could be making the smartest move they'll ever make as a a musician.

In the past, the veteran musician, songwriter and producer has been a scathing critic of the music industry - but this week he turned his fire on new media and digital sound quality in a splendidly entertaining Q&A at an industry conference on Monday.

"Don't be on Facebook, don't be on MySpace. You know why? Because as soon as you're on MySpace, you're one of six million," he told interviewer Greg Kot at the FMC conference. "Have nothing to do with it," he advised.

Burnett said he thought that 1950s transistor radios sound better than iPods, because they force users to "listen with our intelligence rather than our ears".

He also said he thought young musicians were generally more intelligent than they were in his generation. Burnett also had an interesting take on successive administrations' industrial policy.

"For the past the 30 years, the US has attempted to redesign itself as a knowledge society, and in the 30 years we've reduced the value of our knowledge to zero. We've sold our IP to the east, and it's being sold back to us and we're being paid nothing for it."

Is this as irrational as it sounds? An artist's web presence cuts out the middleman of promotion, marketing and distribution - and potentially allows a global audience to discover the material. Burnett doesn't buy that proposition at all, and said artists should concentrate on making great music. And they should never use the word "monetize", he advised.

"The record industry doesn't care about music, but Google doesn't either," says Burnett.

There's a transcript here, courtesy of Digital Music News, and video highlights here and here. ®

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