Music Matters

“A new initiative is highlighting the value of music to a generation that thinks it should be as freely available as tap water.”

26th March 2010, saw the launch of the industry initiative Music Matters. It’s a two-pronged project with a range of short, animated films, illustrating how musicians have inspired and influenced people over the years. Currently, the artists featured are Blind Willie JohnsonJohn MartynKate BushSigur RosNick Cave,Louis Armstrongthe Jam and the Fron Choir (who gave a beautifully moving performance at the launch).

The Music Matters initiative is trying to highlight that music has a value in itself. Morrison – who manages Blur, Gorillaz and Grace Jones – mentions the Radiohead In Rainbows pay-what-you-like model. “How offensive it would have been for someone to not pay a penny. Why do you want to have it if it doesn’t hold any value to you?” he says. “It’s not about how we slice the cake, it’s about if there is a cake.”

Some believe that because music is much more available than ever before, like water from a tap, it has become disposable. Many people who have tens of thousands of tracks on their hard drives barely listen to a fraction of them. When I was growing up I’d save money to buy an album. That gave music value in itself, and I’d listen to the same record for months, years even. I rarely bought merchandise – just music. So admittedly a campaign trying to show that music matters seems, to people like me, like a campaign promoting breathing (Pop justice has already responded to the Why Music Matters campaign: “How about ‘because it’s fucking amazing’?”).

Not everyone will have grown up with this relationship to music, however. Music Matters plans to show the short films in schools. If watching them inspires children, it would carry out something important – it would remind them of music’s intrinsic emotional value. It’s a value that isn’t mentioned enough in debates about the future of music, but it’s why music matters to me.