Wednesday, June 4, 2014

BLINDED BY THE HYPE

Nobody talks about music anymore.

We used to. Remember? 

When music used to be a driving force in our culture?

When the release of a new album was an event?

What happened?

As much as I love the music I grew up on, classic rock needs a makeover. 

It’s one thing to appreciate those that blazed the trail, but we’re holding on to some of these “icons” for too long.

Young people need their own icons.

The legacy acts don't want to face the fact that they're oldies acts. 



When you say the words "new song," if your audience heads for the concession stands and restrooms, you're no longer relevant.



Go out to the Native American casinos and play the hits. Your time is done.

I guess William does not like being called an "oldies act"


The only person who seems to get this is Billy Joel, who hasn't released a new album since 1993 because he knew back then no one wanted to hear it.

But where will these new icons come from? 

American Idol? 

Based on the bang-up job they're doing so far, I doubt it.

Rock music did not used to be about topping the charts, it was about finding music that needed to be heard.


John Hammond signed Bruce Springsteen first and then after the album was recorded, he figured out how to market it.



It took three albums to make a splash, and it was not until his seventh album before he was a mega-star.

In today’s music business, Bruce releases Greetings From Asbury Park, it’s a dud, and he’s not even a one-hit wonder (unless maybe Manfred Mann still do their version of “Blinded By The Light,” and he becomes a pop-up word balloon on VH1).



And worst of all, Stephen T. McCarthy has no Battle Of The Bands post for June 1st!

If every major label were to invest in just one act that does not fit the Top Forty paradigm, just one act that the AOR reps believe in their hearts deserves to be heard, just one act that the suits are committed to stand behind through meager sales numbers on the first couple of records as the artist develops.

There would be a payoff.

Because the mainstream never gets it at first.

I see it with my own friends. 

I remember playing Hinder for one friend and Fun. for another, and both of them telling me to "turn that shit off."

But when both acts hit it big within the next year? 

"Do you have that CD? Can you burn it for me?"

For them, and for most of America, music does not exist until it is mainstream. It was not until one read about Hinder in Rolling Stone and the other saw Fun. win a Grammy that the music was real.

Before that, it's just crazy Larry with some other obscure CD he wants us to listen to.

The big acts got their starts as niche acts with other crazy people doing the early listening. 

People who actually explore the music that's out there instead of waiting for the Grammys, Casey Kasem's and American Idols of the world to tell them what to listen to.

That’s why it took Springsteen seven albums. 


But no one wants to lead, and of course, the corporate paradigm is about profits now, not building for the future.

So we get the same old song, with a different beat

But when the last member of the E Street Band heads for that reunion in the sky, who will be there to carry the torch?

Added June 7, 2014-In preparation for a future post, I reread this post (which I composed a couple of weeks ago) as well as a post on another blog.


I would have originally described this post as "inspired by a blog post by Bob Lefsetz."


As I reread it, I realize that more than using his post as inspiration, I've paraphrased many of his original thoughts and wanted to take this opportunity to give him the credit he is due.


I did not realize (until today)how much I was dipping into Bob's post as I composed this, and while I did add my own spin, many of the core ideas were Bob's, not mine.


I felt an apology and an acknowledgment to Mr. Lefsetz were in order. I offer both to him and to my readers.

11 comments:

  1. Yeah, without a doubt the worst thing would have been if I didn't have a June 1st 'BOTB' to post. I guess I should thank Brucie for that much, anyway.

    I almost wish I hadn't chosen 'Blinded By The Light' to Battle with because this one was just so tough for me that it's almost NOT FUN trying to decide who I ought to vote for.

    Oh well, in the end, come June 7th when I have to post my own vote, I trust that I will receive an answer from the Spirit in the night (or, the Spirit in the "Kuh-nig-it").

    ~ McDogg

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can't really relate, because I DON'T FOLLOW THE RULES!

      Delete
    2. On a serious note, I guess that is really the ultimate sign of a successful cover version-when you cannot decide which one is better (and it is not because it's a note-for-note remake).

      Delete
  2. You make a good point. I think. I'm so out of touch with the modern music scene that I don't know much of what's going on. I don't even get the L.A. Times anymore and that was my closest contact with new music.

    I think a lot has to do with the download society and music has become more ephemeral than ever before. What's the hot thing this week is passe next week.

    But I don't really know for sure and I don't seem to care that much either.

    Lee
    Tossing It Out

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. But that's it, Lee-you used to care!

      I just hope you passed on that love of music to your kids before you stopped caring.

      I get that at my age, the amount of time I spend looking for and listening to music (let alone alphabetizing it) is unusual-but it saddens me how little music seems to mean to America's youth.

      Oh well-their loss. There are a lot of old sounds they'd be better off if they were to discover, and sadly, a lot of new sounds that will undoubtedly go unheard because of the apathy of America's young.

      I won't have to worry about it for that much longer (in the grand scheme of things, that is)

      LC

      Delete
  3. I agree with this totally. I do Time Machine because I love music and how much fun it used to be. We'll never get it back, they don't get it. I get it. And I mourn with you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. CW-I get that our generation aged and had lives and relationships and music took a back seat-but what the heck happened to teenagers loving music?

      I met a young girl (21) at a concert last week and it was refreshing to see someone so young with so much passion for music (and a love of classic rock passed on to her by her father).

      But that seems to be a rarity. I guess we traded The Beatles' music for Grand Theft Auto video games.

      Sad.

      Delete
  4. Sheboyganboy SixJune 6, 2014 at 9:31 PM

    LC -

    I believe that young people ARE talking about music. They just are not talking to us. In my opinion, young people are every bit as passionate about music as we were, but they are finding it without the help of mega corps. However, the mega corps step in later when the get to the Lady Gaga level of household name status.

    My son is a musician and there is an extremely vibrant club scene of excellent bands that tour and play in all cities. They play for virtually no money yet have an adoring underground following. I am not talking about trance music or electronica... although that is an active scene too, it does not count for me since much of it is not even a "band." (M83 - a band I like - being sort of a crossover - exception, and they have gotten quite big.)

    The music industry has totally changed because of economics. It is darned near impossible to make money on albums/CDs now because of pirating. Why pay for music when you can steal it? Because of this, record labels don't spend money, and it perversely frees bands up to promote themselves. And bands can now access the free promotion available via social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube. Even the big music industry giants are not so giant any more, and if they spend bucks on an artist, they don't get back what they used to.

    Mega-artists these days make money on huge glitzy tours, exorbitant ticket prices, $35 tee shirts, and ceaseless TV promotions.

    The question of where new music icons will come from may be YouTube, where if you put together awesome music that gets noticed by "the people" for free, you can develop a following. They still may not make a ton of money, but then again they just might make SOME if they get famous enough. Or maybe not.

    People under 25 seem to find these newer bands and simply demand their rise in prominence if they are good enough. The Lumineers and Mumford and Sons are a couple of recent examples of bands making it without much help from a major label, at least until they got to a certain level.

    That's my dos centavos.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Here's your change!

      I certainly can't say you're wrong, but do you see either The Lumineers or Mumford & Sons having a long career?

      It seems to me like the industry is more geared towards "one hit wonders" than ever before-I assumed that was because of young America's short attention span (maybe faulty on my part), but I rarely encounter a young person who listens to music as anything more than background-and more of them seem to use the television as background of choice.

      Granted, in the seventies, there were far fewer assaults on my senses than the young of America have today.

      I get that the music industry is forever changed, and that the idea of buying a CD's days are numbered (I just hope there are player available until I kick the bucket)...I just hope that there will continue be an avenue for new music to be delivered.

      Before the phonograph, live music was it, and the number of songs was finite-no one outside of your town would hear the song you wrote, so very few would get remembered.

      With vinyl, and then CD's, that creativity was now documented (hence the term "record").

      I think that was a magical thing, and I hope today's youth do not take it for granted.

      The internet made music available on an even bigger scale-I have music by bands I'd have never heard of because they were regional bands.

      Sadly, the same technology devalued music...I fear that if it gets too devalued, it simply will not be worth bands heading into the studio, and that would be a shame.

      This generation deserves their own Dark Side Of The Moon.

      For that, there needs to be enough money in the game to fund a studio and a proper producer, and enough support from all sides to foster that kind of creativity.

      I am glad your son is passionate about music-Arizona's music scene is not what I remember Philadelphia's being, but I still try to support it.

      These young bands are the future of music. I may not live long enough to see that future, but I think it will be a better world for it.

      Now if we could just get back to popular music that had a little more depth than "back that ass up."

      LC

      Delete
  5. You make good points.

    This generation alone will determine if it produces a "Dark Side of the Moon," I suppose. Frankly - although I understand WHY "Dark Side" is a "Dark Side" (and I own the album), I never thought Pink Floyd was such hot stuff. It is OK, but vastly overrated as far as I am concerned.

    Two of my favorite bands from recent times have produced better albums that are just as serious. No "back that ass up" lyrics from them. Whether they will be highly thought of decades from now, who knows. Part of why "Dark Side" is so legendary is that it became popular to call it legendary. Our mutual buddy (you know who) makes that contention RE: "Sgt. Pepper," and he has a great point. I don't hate that album like he does - in fact, I like it. But there are some vastly better Beatles albums out there and yet Sgt. Peppers is hailed as a "Dark Side of the Moon," as it were. Why? Because some critics started the legend and lesser-schooled fad-followers picked up the riff.

    I agree about technology devaluing music... good point. But it seems to me that the same technology is also making it so "heading into the studio" is now possible on a shoestring budget... something my son's band has done. That is a two-edged sword as well, though. They can get into a "studio" but it is not as good a studio and the people producing the work are very wet behind the ears (whatever the hell that means.) So the sound is "OK" but not necessarily great of these small regional bands.

    Finally, I agree about your one-hit-wonder concern. All these factors, including the incredibly short attention span of society created by technology, socialism, molly-coddling, and the desire to be the first to recognize a new band make it difficult for our yoot to focus for long on any one artist before flitting off to the next.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I actually like Sgt. Peppers a lot...although I liked Magical Mystery Tour better. Hard to argue with Revolver or Rubber Soul, either. It was the eponymous white album I always thought was vastly overrated.

      I think STM was put off by the Beach Boys' not getting the attention he felt was their due for Pet Sounds.

      I grew up in the Philadelphia suburbs, and simply do not remember the Beach Boys getting the play in the East that the Beatles got. And you have a boatload of people in the northeast.

      I'd posited this to STM a few years back, and he didn't buy it, but it's pretty much what I remember.

      In my high school years, no one was reminiscing about the Beach Boys...but the Beatles were gods that we all hoped would take Saturday Night Live's $3K hosting offer.

      We all knew the BB's hits, but thought of them more for the surfer hits than "Good Vibrations."

      I spent a lot of time listening to Pet Sounds last year, and while it is a better album than I remembered, it has one anchor that in my opinion keeps it from being spoken of as an elite album..."Sloop John B."

      It simply does not belong there, and had it been left off, the album would have been far more cohesive (in my opinion). With it there, it kind of derails the listening experience.

      But I do agree that Wilson does not get the credit he should (although he does from other musicians-and maybe that's what's important).

      I would be very interested in knowing the two
      albums you speak of.

      I am always on the lookout for something new.

      It's funny, I do not think DSOTM is overrated when I think of it in terms of an album listening experience.

      There are better collections of songs, no question.

      But the whole presentation that Floyd (and Alan Parsons at the board) put together is really one of the most cohesive examples of an album (as more than just a collection of songs but not quite a concept album) that I can think of.

      The main differentiator for me-if you put DSOTM on shuffle play, you lose something. Most of the albums (where I would agree with you are better collections of songs overall) do not suffer so much from the same treatment.

      One last thought...you may have spelled "yewt" wrong! Although it does not seem to be in Webster's....

      Delete