Tom Ritchford
2 min readApr 14, 2021


Fascinating and somewhat scary article.

I have watched the live music scene slowly shrink over decades, a victim of gentrification but also of competition - not just from DJs, but also from other genres that have grown from nothing over decades, like video games and the Internet in general.

When I first started playing NYC clubs with my band in the 80s, your weird avant-garde band that wasn't wildly popular would still make you a couple of hundred bucks for a couple of sets - enough to pay carfare for everyone and have a nice meal out of it - and there were endless places to play in Manhattan, whose names are a litany of the dead - The World, Brownies, the New Music Cafe, the Reggae Lounge, CBGBs (though the one time I played CBGBs it was super-miserable because we were put on over three hours after we were billed, and all our crowd had left as it was 2AM on a Tuesday).

The last show I played in New York City was a nice new club far out in Brooklyn but I didn't even get drink tickets.

What's particularly disturbing is the rise of fake live music - music which appears to have a band but is mostly pre-recorded. I remember watching some electronica band, could it be Underworld>, and thinking that it was a bad idea to have cameras on the hands of the musicians, because it made it clear that they weren't really playing much of anything.

I feel that people have less and less of a relationship to live music, because fewer and fewer of them are taught a musical instrument in school.

I listen to plenty of hip-hop, but I very rarely go to see it, because nearly all of it is one or two people rapping over a pre-recorded beat. I'm sorry, but this doesn't really tickle my live music buttons.

I want to see people playing instruments and pushing the envelope, but I've talked to more and more people over the years who say they literally don't see the difference between pre-recorded music and someone playing an instrument live.

So, God, I really really hope we have a resurgence of live acts, but my best guess is we're going to get even more solo acts out of people's bedrooms with some earnest performer and a bank of electronics. (And I have enjoyed these in the past. But.)

Thanks for writing!