Sometimes, insight comes from very unlikely places.
I'm keenly interested in the music industry, and how it will evolve, or possibly die. I care deeply about music; it's had a profound effect on my life over the years. Even though the entire industry has been screaming that they're dying, I truly believe that music will never die. It's bigger than money. I'm not exactly sure about the details, even though I have some ideas.
In any case, I was reading about this the other day, and I came across this quote from Mick Jaggar:
But I have a take on that – people only made money out of records for a very, very small time. When The Rolling Stones started out, we didn’t make any money out of records because record companies wouldn’t pay you! They didn’t pay anyone!
Then, there was a small period from 1970 to 1997, where people did get paid, and they got paid very handsomely and everyone made money. But now that period has gone.
So if you look at the history of recorded music from 1900 to now, there was a 25 year period where artists did very well, but the rest of the time they didn’t.
An interesting bit of history, and an interesting perspective from someone who has some skin in the game, to say the least. But it's the last sentence of that blog post that gives the true insight:
Don’t stop at 1900, though. If you think of the entire history of the world, the notion that you could make an outsized return on making music is a complete aberration.
When I first read this sentence, something clicked inside my head, and I had a realization: does this apply to everything?
We always think that we're moving forward. It's called 'progress' for a reason. But it's kind of obvious why we'd think this: we're the ones living it! Of course we'd do know wrong!
But what if we are?
What if we're not progressing, but regressing? What if the latest and greatest isn't where things are going... it's just a small blip in the graph?
Maybe we're actually going down the wrong path, building towards deflation, and need to turn around and revise our position. Maybe we've misstepped. What if we're doing what we think is right, but it's actually wrong? What if we're just on the upswing of some local minima?
I don't necessarily mean that, for example, the music industry will cause the total collapse of everything. But maybe it was a temporary peak. Things will return back to some even level again, and over the grand sum of history, such a small deviation will be forgotten.
Then I start to apply this line of reasoning to everything. How can we really know if we're doing better than yesterday?