You may have already heard of young Emily White, who has quickly become the poster girl for clueless millennial cultural destruction. But if you haven't, you may want to peruse her narcissistic NPR blog post on how she has never paid for music, so like, why should she start now??? All she wants is a digital catalog of everything ever recorded, that she can access at will, and at a price she determines (but one, you sense, that is very close to zero, as that seems to be all she has paid for the 11,000 songs she has in her library so far). Is that too much to ask?
Whew. Emily's "whatever" shrug is beautiful, really, in something like the same way the open jaws and blank eyes of an oncoming shark are. (She shares the same purity of purpose, and the same simple, satisfied self-regard.) And though we're quite used by now to the economic plight of musicians, don't imagine that Emily's consumption habits won't soon be the norm for books, articles, movies -indeed anything that is recorded in any medium.
But she does remind me that what we often think of as theatre's great handicap in the digital age - that it's hard to record its essence, that it is essentially evanescent, that you have to be there to experience it - is, in some ways, a blessing in disguise. Theatre never depended on the business model that, for a time, so wildly expanded the music business (which is itself slowly being battered back into a dependence on live gigs for its very survival). Not that this model is a particularly healthy one - but at least Google and Microsoft aren't bleeding it dry. Although rest assured, I'm sure someone like Emily is dreaming of a way to destroy it, too.