Elvis has left the Building

The Internet had a well known impact on the music industry.  A friend recently brought to my attention another one that is impacting him.  Private music teachers (those not employed by schools) are also facing extinction.  Music teachers are competing with the availability of free video lessons, such as how to play guitar, on the Internet.

Music teachers cannot compete on price, so non-economic aspects, such as personal guidance, or meeting like minded individuals, or immersing oneself in the culture of music, are promoted.  My friend’s experience and those of his associates is that the Internet generation (roughly anyone under 20) sees absolutely no value in these things.  If they can get a lesson when they want it, change ‘teachers’ when they want, take the lesson wherever they wish and get it for free why pay for classes?

There are three lessons here.

First, the transformational impact of the Internet on the economy and society is far from over.  Can what you do for a living be digitized and distributed?  Can someone do it for free?  This is particularly problematic for jobs that are fairly repetitive such as teaching students guitar.  It only takes one person to post a series of guitar lessons once and it will impact thousands for years to come.

Second, the Internet generation is entering the workforce.  There will be an expectation that all information required to their job will be available and accessible.  To talk to someone for job related information would be like sending a telegram.  To shadow someone to ‘learn the ropes’ of a job would be equally archaic.  (I notice they almost never take notes.  Guess I am carbon dating myself.)

Third, for all the people who make a living creating and managing intellectual property out there, not only will the Internet generation expect it for free, they believe it should be for free.  They believe the person charging for digital content is the one doing something wrong, not those downloading it for free.  The communalization of digital content will become a social norm.


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