Did You Ask For Creative Destruction?

“Creative Destruction” is a snazzy phrase cooked up by an economist named Joseph Schumpeter. You might consider the term oxymoronic, and it could be a title for a Godzilla movie.

Photograph Compliments of Javier Miranda

Estimated reading time: 17 minutes

What Is Creative Destruction?

Creative Destruction is really about how fancy-schmancy new things can trample old, rusty things into oblivion, much like how your smartphone replaced that carrier pigeon you once used. Pigeons are lovely, but I don’t have to clean up after the phone. But watch out for those hidden charges.

The “Creative” bit refers to brainstorming and inventing new stuff. The correlation would be like those doodads that make life a piece of cake as compared to those swanky new business models that disrupt the whole industry enchilada. Think of it as the bright, shiny ‘Eureka!’ moment, like when someone invented sliced bread, and everyone realized they’d been living in the dark ages.

“Destruction” sounds like we’re in an action movie, huh? But don’t worry, we’re not talking about asteroid impacts or evil robots. We’re simply bidding adieu to the outdated relics like your granny’s rotary phone or that ear-piercingly screechy dial-up internet from the ’90s. You remember that ‘awesome’ sound of the internet connecting, don’t you? Well, thank our dear friend Creative Destruction for silencing that beast. So, pour one out for those fallen tech comrades, and salute the fancy-schmancy gadgets of today. After all, progress waits for no one, not even your nostalgia.

What The…

The law of the jungle as it applies to business:

If a new product or service does the job better or cheaper, it will be the star of the show while the older businesses that couldn’t keep up with the times get the boot. So, it’s survival of the fittest, where the fittest are those who can keep up with the relentless, caffeine-fueled pace of innovation. Ain’t capitalism a hoot?

Are you following me? As a musician, can you sense where I’m going with this.

Stick around!

Lucy, You Got Some ‘Splainin To Do

Okay, let’s chat about Creative Destruction, that darling buzzword in this blog’s title. It’s a real double-edged sword, it is. In the short term, it can cause more drama than a soap opera finale, with jobs disappearing faster than cookies at a dieting convention. For example, let’s say a factory becomes about as useful as a chocolate teapot because of some shiny new tech, and the workers suddenly find themselves with unexpected free time. It’s a good way to dampen a person’s cash flow, like rain at a barbecue.

But lo and behold, in the grand scheme of things, this charming monster of Creative Destruction is meant to make everything more efficient and spur economic growth. So, don’t shed too many tears for those obsolete jobs – it’s just progress, or so they say.

Have you ever actually wondered who ‘they’ are? Who are they to say such things? And who is they, anyway?

It’s worth mentioning that while Creative Destruction loves to play with new tech, it’s not exclusive to it. Changes in consumer tastes, social norms, laws, or other flimsy human constructs can also spark it. Don’t you feel reassured that some of the bigwigs of economics and government policies have been in a tizzy trying to balance innovation with not ruining people’s lives? I know I feel better.

The Rise Of Automobiles

Let us now take a moment of silence for the careers sacrificed to the altar of the truck and automobile. Our first consideration is for the wagon and carriage makers. Once upon a time, these craftspeople were busy as bees. But then came the roar of engines, and suddenly, their skills were as sought-after as landlines in a smartphone world.

Next in line for the chopping block? The stable hands. They were the ones who kept our four-legged Uber drivers fed, groomed, and ready to gallop. But with the advent of automobiles, they were handed a redundancy notice faster than you can say “horsepower.”

And let’s not forget the horse breeders, the unsung heroes who ensured a steady supply of transportation-grade stallions. With cars and trucks taking over the streets, these folks found themselves in a career pickle, to say the least.

Wagon wheel makers? Whip manufacturers? Saddle creators? The list of obsoleted professions goes on, each one a victim of the ruthless efficiency of the combustion engine.

And let’s remember those whose job it was to clean the streets.

Last but certainly not least, the fact I’m about to drop is just as delightful as stepping in a puddle of muck.

At the turn of the 20th century, before cars swooped in to save the day, New York City had a daily production rate of about 2.5 million pounds of horse manure. I shit you not.

Sometimes I pick low fruit; it’s easier.

Nonetheless, 2.5 million pounds! That’s around 1,125 tons of horse apples generously donated by our equine friends.

But wait, here comes the “creation” part of creative destruction, looking like a knight in shining armor. Automobile factories sprouted up like mushrooms after rain, bringing a landslide of manufacturing jobs. The construction industry got a neat little boost because cars need roads.

And lo and behold, businesses like gas stations and motels popped up faster than pimples on a teenager’s face, all to serve the car-crazy public.

Suburbs bloomed, as cars made it possible for people to commute further distances without needing to saddle up a horse. Travel became a pastime instead of a chore, and the concept of the “road trip” was born.

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The Rise Of Email

Let’s journey back to when an ‘inbox’ was just a tray on your desk, and ‘spam’ was more likely to be found in a can than clogging up said inbox.

Non-sequitur; I Can’t Resist!

Photograph Compliments of おにぎり

Strap in, food adventurers, for a whirlwind tour of Spam’s gargantuan fan clubs worldwide! Hawaii, AKA, the SPAM® state, turns this canned wonder into ‘Hawaiian steak,’ even creating its own Spam sushi called musubi. 

Meanwhile, South Korea treats SPAM® like gourmet gold, gifting it on Lunar New Year and even incorporating it in their famed army stew.

The Philippines caught the Spam bug, too, turning it into dishes like Spam Silog and even… wait for it… spam fries! 

Over in Guam, they’re practically downing Spam like water, where families actually buy SPAM®, by the case.

Japan occasionally sneaks SPAM® into their onigiri – talk about surprise filling!
The United Kingdom keeps its World War II love affair with Spam alive, serving it with eggs or in sandwiches. 

Let’s take a moment to pay homage to the underappreciated hero of World War II, none other than our treasured canned compatriot, SPAM®. This darling hunk of pink, jellied mystery meat was as vital to the soldiers as their weapons. Pumping those strapping lads with the nutritious, gourmet delights only canned, processed meat can offer. It’s said that the U.S. military gobbled down a whopping 68,000 tons of this delectable stuff during their war campaign.

Back To Creative Destruction

Before you could hit ‘send’ from the comfort of your jammies and boxers, communication was such a chore. Pen a letter, lick an envelope, slap on a stamp, and twiddle your thumbs, waiting a week or two until it reaches its destination. The Pony Express had nothing on this.

And businesses? You can bet they were living their best life, drowning in a sea of paper, folders, and paper cuts. But hey, who doesn’t love a good ledger and an ink-stained finger?

Then came the revolution, dressed in 90s dial-up tones and a pixelated ‘@.’ Email, the hero we didn’t know we needed but now can’t live without.
Sending a message across the globe in the blink of an eye, no carrier pigeons in sight. Free delivery without having to sell a kidney for international postage. Sending the same ‘Happy Holidays’ message to all your contacts (because who has the time for personalization?). And let’s remember the digital library of every awkward work email you’ve ever sent, all neatly stored for your future cringing pleasure.

The fallout? Postal services taking a hit. Who needs a postman when you’ve got Wi-Fi? And while we’re at it, let’s just quietly ignore those pesky job losses and revenue dips.

But wait! There’s a silver lining! A whole new world of opportunities just waiting to be seized. Email service providers, digital marketing gurus, the nerdy I.T. guy who retrieves your forgotten passwords. Not to mention the adrenaline rush of living on the edge of a potential cybersecurity breach. Good times.

While email might have dealt a heavy blow to snail mail, it didn’t land a knockout punch. Traditional mail is still kicking around, delivering your Amazon impulse buys, legal mumbo-jumbo, and those heartwarming holiday cards from Aunt Marge. The plot twist? E-commerce is actually keeping your local postie in business. How’s that for a complex twist in our tale of creative destruction?

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The Rise Of eCommerce

Photograph Compliments of Mark König

Let’s dissect this astonishing world of e-commerce, shall we? It’s a fascinating realm where you can buy cat costumes at three in the morning when you’re feeling lonely. Somehow we’re all convinced this represents “progress.” It’s the Electronic Elysium that’s been shaking up our brick-and-mortar stores. For me, I like stores, but in the wake of COVID, people have decided they like shopping from home more and more. Traditional retail is left quaking in their boots. Ah, the marvel of creative destruction in all its full glory!

Once upon a time, you had to put on clothes and go out to do your shopping. Imagine walking around, browsing items, and exchanging pleasantries with the salesperson! But no, e-commerce couldn’t stand it. It had to wave its shiny, digital wand and zap the world into an eternal state of pajama-clad shopping.

Thanks to e-commerce, we can all enjoy the thrill of buying a myriad of things we probably don’t need, at an ungodly hour, from the confines of our own nest. What a boon for those residing miles away from civilization or those who simply can’t stand the horror of human interaction.

Of course, the magical internet offers a vast, virtually limitless smorgasbord of products. No more being confined by that pesky reality of physical space. Now you can scroll endlessly through merchandise pages while munching on your midnight snacks – indeed, the height of human achievement. Price comparison? Check. Global reach? Check. Creepy personalized shopping experiences based on your browser history? Double check.

But here’s the fun part: e-commerce is the rowdy clown knocking over the traditional retail stands in the grand carnival of creative destruction. Those retail outlets are closing up faster than you can click ‘add to cart.’ Traditional sales jobs are being gobbled up by the giant Pac-Man that is virtual shopping. Meanwhile, shopping malls and downtown retail are left in the dust like sad relics of a bygone era.

The incorporation of E-commerce isn’t entirely merciless. It’s been kind enough to create new jobs in web design, data analysis, logistics, and customer service. Even our overworked delivery guys owe their relentless schedules to the e-commerce boom.

And what’s this about blending old and new? Yes, traditional retailers are desperately trying to hop on the digital bandwagon while cyber shops are venturing into the physical realm. A beautiful dance of survival, adaptation, and blurry lines.

Virtual retail is puffing and panting after the Pandemic’s grand shopping spree. Did you hear? In 2021 and 2022, it had its slowest share of total retail growth for two whole years. Perhaps the verdict is not out yet.

The Rise Of Streaming Services

Then we have the streaming services: Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and Disney+. They have dared to storm the fortress of traditional movie rentals and television industries, scattering them like bowling pins. Such an epic tale of creative destruction!

In the good old days, before these digital dragons breathed fire onto our screens, we humble folks had to wait for our favorite shows to air. We had to bow to the whims of TV schedulers or make the perilous journey to Blockbuster for a DVD.

But then, lo and behold, the revolution happened! The convenience of on-demand viewing allowed the masses to watch what they wanted when they wanted. No more bending to the rigid whims of broadcasting schedules or the tediousness of physical rentals. Who needs constraints when you can have an all-day binge-watch party or whenever you want.

And the rebels didn’t stop there; they filled their coffers with an boundless array of shows and movies. Then these power-hungry digital platforms started producing original content; call it audacious or brilliant, you choose.

Even more impressive is that these services often come at a fraction of the cost of those archaic cable or satellite TV packages. Throw in the luxury of ad-free viewing, and it’s like they’re practically giving away content! How about portability? With these services, you can indulge your screen addiction anytime, anywhere, as long as you’re leashed to the Internet. What a time to be alive!

Remember Blockbuster Video? Nope? Well, it was swept into the dustbin of history, unable to keep up with these turbo-charged invaders. Even cable and satellite TV giants are watching their customer base slip.

But every story has a silver lining, right? The “creation” part of this drama is the birth of shiny new companies with jobs that sound as if they were straight out of a sci-fi novel: content production, data analysis, software development, you name it!

Traditional TV viewing time continues to decline. But who knows? With how these streaming services are going, I wouldn’t be surprised if they soon have a solution for that too!

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Creative Destruction In The Music Industry

Welcome to the wonder of digital music and streaming services. The music-consuming public can access a plethora of music from around the globe at any time, all in the palm of their hands. Indeed a game changer.

Let’s get started on the price tag. Remember those ancient times when we had to shell out for each CD or record? Well, not anymore! The digital revolution has given us a golden ticket to a musical all-you-can-eat buffet, all for less than the price of a fancy cup of coffee.

Herein lies the brilliant revolution of music discovery. Just press a button, and voilà! An algorithm that knows you better than your mother serves up a carefully curated selection of new tunes based on your past listening habits.

Here is where the artist’s concerns lie: On the one hand, they get to distribute their sweet symphonies to every corner of the globe without the need for the big, bad record labels. But the irony lies in the pennies they make from each stream which can hardly buy them a cup of ramen.

How about the record store? They’ve taken quite a hit, haven’t they? All these artists go rogue, releasing music directly to the adoring public. It’s like watching the slow decline of the dinosaurs. Still, there is hope in the resurgence of viny, but that’s for a later conversation.

Let’s talk about live music. With digital and physical sales dipping like a fallen soufflé, artists are left hustling, turning to live gigs and merchandise to keep their lights on.

And then there’s the data. It’s a veritable gold mine for those crafty streaming platforms, letting them dish up personalized music recommendations and valuable insights to artists and record labels. We can all understand that there are privacy concerns here.

There it is, creative destruction in the music industry. Record store and CD sales taking the hit while streaming platforms soar up into the stratosphere. The debates remain over fair artist compensation and such. On the bright side, consumers can participate in an unending music festival right from the comfort of their couches.

How Has Creative Destruction Impacted Recording Studios?

Home recording technology has single-handedly given the recording industry a run for its money and left professional studios quaking in their boots. So let’s talk about this whole accessibility and affordability thing.

With a small wad of cash, any musician can set up a home studio that would have audio engineers of yesteryears weeping into their soundboards. The capacity of a million-dollar digital console from the early eighties is eclipsed by today’s free DAW downloads. Who needs a bank-breaking studio when you can birth a Grammy-winner on your laptop.

Control and flexibility? Artists can now wave goodbyes to the ticking clock of studio time and create musical masterpieces at 2 am in their underwear. It’s a brave new world of creative freedom and musical experimentation, which is a good thing.

Hold on to your hats because software advancements are up next. Digital audio workstations like Pro Tools, Logic Pro, Ableton Live, you name it, have taken center stage, offering musicians every possible tool under the sun for recording, editing, mixing, and mastering audio. There is a plethora of options out there.

Who needs an orchestra when you have a virtual one on your desktop? And let us remember direct distribution. With the rise of digital music platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, and SoundCloud, artists can serenade the masses straight from their home studios. That’s got to hurt the major record labels a bit.

Sure, the rise of home recording has ruffled a few feathers. Smaller professional studios might feel the heat as artists trade in the glitz of a studio for the comfort of their homes.

Yes, there have been casualties. But oh, the glorious ‘creation’ part of creative destruction. Just think about the boom in home recording technology companies, software developers, and online music educators. Not to mention the explosion of new music from artists who would have otherwise never made it to a studio. There is a musical renaissance here.

Now, let’s remember the professional studios. They’re still hanging around, boasting their unique acoustics, high-end equipment, and experienced personnel, and they’re still the go-to for top-tier artists and large-scale productions. So while the humble home studio has undoubtedly stirred the pot, they have yet to entirely send traditional studios packing.

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Creative Destruction Pertaining To Songwriting And Music Creation

Photograph Compliments of Wes Hicks

It’s a brave new music world fueled by technological advancements that have swept the music industry like a storm. So let’s break down this grand transformation.

First off, let’s talk about Digital Audio Workstations. They are the heroes of music production, simplifying music creation. Now, every Tom, Dick, and Harry can arrange, edit, and record music from the comfort of their home. Talk about a game-changer!

Consider the marvels of software instruments and MIDI. Don’t know how to play the violin? No worries! Just use a software instrument that replicates the sound. And then there are sample libraries and loop packs. Why bother creating your own beats when you can use pre-recorded ones? It’s like building a song with musical Lego blocks.

Who needs originality and effort when you have convenience. (That was sarcasm for those who don’t know me)

And then there are the AI and algorithmic composition tools! Need a melody? There’s an AI for that. Harmonies? Yep, AI’s got you covered. The downside to this is all the musician wannabees. They can now enter the foray with little or no musical training. Look at the state of pop music, a sure indicator of this trend.

And don’t get me started on all the ‘Producers’ out there. I can barely lay claim to that. Want the real deal, check out Rick Beato.

There is the blessing of remote collaboration tools. Musicians can share files and ideas across continents as easily as passing the salt. Physical distancing? No problem! You can still create a chart-topper from your separate corners of the globe. And the cherry on top? The democratization of music creation. With entry barriers knocked down, every aspiring musician can produce and distribute their music without a record label. Good news, that.

Of course, there’s the other side of the coin. The heavy reliance on software instruments and samples has raised eyebrows about the loss of real musicianship. And the flood of music due to easier access means listeners now have to sift through the noise to find the gems.

So, while we’ve lost some of the traditional skills and roles, we’ve gained new opportunities and creative possibilities. It’s the beautiful and chaotic dance of creative destruction.

Enjoy the music.

And In The End…

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