Truth is, we all know that the music industry is dying. People don't buy music. They might use Spotify, they might illegally download or they just might not be that bothered about music any more. HMV died not because of a bad business model or any greedy corporate nastiness. It died because kids don't buy music anymore.
|Alex James crossed the line from|
music to food.
What they are spending money on though, is food. Talking to various people and most agree, those in their thirties & forties wouldn't have dreamed of going out to dinner in their teens or early twenties apart from a special occasion or date. But most would have budgeted for an album or two per week. Now twenty-somethings, (as the Daily Telegraph's 'gastronaut' article pointed out) me included are dining out 3-4 times a week without thinking about it. But buying music? I've not bought an album in six months. Even the word 'album' seems rather quaint now, like something my mum would say.
This age group used to spend all their money on music. Gig tickets, CDs, t-shirts, were what disposable income used to be splurged on. Now, the younger generation think nothing of spending £70 in one sitting, for a regular meal in a dingy basement and it's not even a special occasion.
I went to a party the other week and ended up having a long conversation about not clubs, bands or festivals, but which restaurants we'd been to. It became like a competition of who was cooler. 'Haven't been to John Salt yet under the new chef? Christ.' 'Well, I got a table at Dabbous.' Not film, or music, or anything that young people used to talk about.
Food is becoming the new music. You can no longer remember the names of all the members of The Strokes but you can name all of the head chefs of the Polpo group.
Calling oneself a foodie now seems to be the norm, almost as normal as saying that you like music. Before, you the foodie were the one all your friends went to for restaurant recommendations, the coolest and newest places. Now, you get a text from your mate saying 'I've just heard about this place called Pitt Cue Co's [sic]. Let's go there!' People are no longer excited about being the first to own the new Foals album, they're too busy buying tickets to Tom Oldroyd's (Head Chef of the Polpo group) pop-up at The Thatched (which sold out in 9 minutes, give or take a few held tickets).
It's sometimes difficult to tell what's a cool gig and what's a restaurant. The chefs have loyal groupies who follow them from pop-up to pop-up, the wait staff have tattoos, there are queues around the block to rival those of what you'd expect to get into a Muse gig and there are those who the newly enlightened can only wish to be - the bloggers (the new equivalent of NME writers). Dishes are hit singles, menus are albums.
And it's not just a niche group of hard-core foodies any more. Now you really just need to follow the right people on Twitter or read Time Out and you can know all of the new openings and gossip, without having a lot of background knowledge. And more and more celebrities are tweeting about, and being spotted at, the new cool places, making it even easier to discern which are the cooler places.
Where will this go? Will people jump ship? A photographer friend of mine at EMI has been talking about food 'being the new rock n roll' for ages now, he'd get into restaurant work in a flash if he had the balls.
The good news is, there is no real 'digital threat'. You can't download food or pirate it, so if anything, food culture benefits from rather than fears the internet.
I predict food festivals equaling music festivals in a few years, chef residencies being as in demand as DJs were in the 90s. Dishes will develop into cult 'done it/ not done it yet' statuses.
Where young people were staying out all night at gigs, they'll now spend them in a more civilised manner: sharing small plates and discussing the generation's burning question: burger or lobster?