October 8, 2009

Digital remastered

Forget about the Beatles Remasters, another, equally influential, fab foursome have released remasters of all their albums this week. Kraftwerk helped change the course of music and, in many ways, present an interesting parallel with the world of digital advertising & marketing.

When Kraftwerk began producing electronic music they had to make many of their instruments themselves as the available technology could not produce what they imagined. In the same way the early days of the commercial web involved a huge degree of invention. Those of us working online in the mid to late 90s were inventing new ways to communicate and interact with the audience. Like Kraftwerk we were experimenting with new forms of expression and not everyone got it. Then suddenly…. the world caught up.

Looking back at the history of electronic music, the 80s and 90s saw a slow decline in the quality of output from early electronic pioneers like Kraftwerk while others built on their inventiveness to take the genre further. Then electronic music became commoditized to the point where today anyone can make a song in their bedroom or even on their phone. We’ve witnessed the same thing on the internet with web 2.0 allowing anyone to be an online publisher. The results have not been pretty (I’m looking at you MySpace) even though the idea (of putting the power of the web into the hands of the people) is fantastic.

Yet while this web of the unwashed masses has been turning the internet into a bit of a mess we have seen a resurgence of the kind of inventiveness that made digital such an exciting industry when it first began. The original pioneering spirit is being remastered by a new generation – building on the past to create something new. The past was exciting but maybe the best is yet to come.

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