Monday, June 1, 2009

...Music is Crud...

I think I have uncovered secret documents to explain the current state of music today. For your consideration, I present a page from rare industry insider document:
  • Find some talent means, "find smoeone with a nice look. Actual music ability is a plus."
  • Develop the talent means, "Get the 'artist' a personal trainer, or a good plastic surgeon."
  • Make the album means, "Hire overpriced producers and a skilled engineer to put the whole album together. Vocals can be supplied through computerized methods if necessary."
  • Promote the talent means, "Call up the same two skanky hoes for every video to crawl around on a bed in the background for some ugly punk taht would never get that girl if she wasn't paid to be there."
  • Artist means, "Person that signs a contract and now believes they are supposed to do a few appearanced and get a 'big' check.If person has actual talent, it should not be applied unless absolutely necessary as this may raise public expectations, and thus production costs and care."
  • Industry executive means, "tone deaf with entirely too much authority over the music business."
Okay, so maybe that’s not a real document but I’m trying to understand the striking difference between the music we listened to only 10 years ago and the “stuff” they play on the radio now and try to pass off as music.

I happily fell into a bunch of old music videos online recently: Brand Nubian, Main Source, Souls of Mischief, Keith Murray, LSG (Levert-Sweat-Gill), Toni Braxton and a few others.

And then I started to feel almost depressed thinking about how far downhill music has rolled, particularly Hip Hop and R&B. How could it all possibly be going so horribly wrong right now?

I recall a documentary about the history of a certain fast food restaurant that engaged certain hiring practices as a means of saving money. There are companies that use this same method today and I’m starting to think the music industry might have jumped on the bandwagon.

Company X concept # 1- Hire poor, disadvantage or otherwise desperate people. It gives the appearance that you care about the community but really it’s just cheap labor.
  • Music Industry version- Drive up to a basketball court or corner store in your fancy auto, and yell the following from your window: “First one to get over here gets a record deal!” Plan B is to place an ad that says “Musicians wanted- no actual musical skills required” but the problem with Plan B is that it requires reading- expect a low response.
Company X concept #2- Offer negligible support and resources. This includes minimal training, limited or delayed opportunities for advancement, bare-bones standards for work environment , and pay just pennies over the minimum wage
  • Music Industry version- Songs don’t need beautiful melodies or thought -provoking lyrics, just a mindless chant or dumb looking chicken dance. All R&B songs must reference a girl’s “big juicy booty” and plans to tear it up, break it down, wear it out or otherwise disassemble it. (Is it a woman or an old car?) Videos should be recorded in the backyard or driveway of the “artists” for that “real” look using only a camera phone; post- production budget should not exceed $12.95
Company X concept #3- Maintain revolving employment -use it, break it, throw it away and buy a new one, or work your employees until they fail or quit and then replace them, because staff development is expensive.
  • Music Industry version- Idiot signs long binding contract to guaranteed a lifetime of misery in exchange for one minor radio hit and /or popular ringtone. Idiot then fades away into oblivion and debt when record company finds next new thing.
But as the, ahem, definitions might suggest, it’s not just industry executives and talentless hacks destroying music right now, but some potentially great artists are getting sucked into the mainstream cesspool and dragging good music into the gutter.

Why? I don't know. To stay in the game?

It’s taken me darn near a month to get all the way through the last Day 26 CD. It sounds like they wanted to see how many songs they could make off the same five tired music tracks. Out of 15 songs, only four were tolerable. It made me want to drive fast on the freeway and chuck it out the car window. This is unacceptable.

And yet we know these guys are incredible talents but rather than record music from the heart, they seemed intent on trying to do what everyone else was doing. And they succeeded. It is as bland and pointless as everything else that’s out right now.

So what now? The music industry seems to be slowly crumbling and maybe it’s best if we just let it hobble off and die in a corner somewhere.

One of the best CDs I bought in the last year was from a new and independent artist named Paul Dateh. I found him quite by accident on YouTube while looking for “classic hip hop”. His YouTube channel had his website link where he allowed free downloads of a few songs. The more I heard, the more I wanted to hear because that tends to happen with genuine talent. By the time he released a full CD on, (friend to the independent artist), I was ready to buy.

Independent efforts might be all we have left today. I urge the kids with the talent to press on and find ways to get yourself out there, and we the fans will find you and support you.

And I urge the record companies to wise up and devise plans based on producing a good product people are interested in instead of trying to push anything out there. As music fans, we’re sick of it. And as savvy consumers, we’re going to put our money elsewhere.

Song stuck in my head right now: "Lost In Love" by I-15

***Day 26 Prediction*** In accordance with the Boy Band Prophecy, when the band breaks up the standard post-break up roles will be assigned as follows:
  • Willie will be the one to make a solo album that flops. He'll end up as a judge on a crappy MTV show
  • Rob will be the one to make a solo album that does well, but only if Dwele were to have an "unfortunate accident" or take a nasty fall.
  • Mike will be the one to go on to do Broadway, host award pre-show red carpet specials for the TV Guide channel, and be a semi-finalist on "Dancing with the Stars"
  • Brian will be the one that disappers.
  • Que will be the one that ends up in rehab.

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