Like many other Millenials / GenYers, when I think about the downfall of the music industry, I think of Napster, Kazaa, Limewire and BitTorrent. And certainly those peer-to-peer file sharing innovations played a major role. But dig deeper and there’s a case to be made that the downfall began in our own backyard. In fact, Stephen Witt, in a longform piece for The New Yorker, makes that very case. I especially enjoyed this characterization of early-nineties life in Shelby, North Carolina:
Glover and Dockery soon became friends. They lived in the same town, Shelby, and Glover started giving Dockery a ride to work. They liked the same music. They made the same money. Most important, they were both fascinated by computers, an unusual interest for two working-class Carolinians in the early nineties—the average Shelbyite was more likely to own a hunting rifle than a PC.
In all seriousness, I had no idea that a small chunk of the ridiculous amounts of money I was spending on music in the nineties was coming back to the North Carolina economy. Had I known that there was a literal hit factory in Kings Mountain, NC, I might have tried to spend my summers working there.