“The (music) mainstream is imploding”…Great Analysis of Today’s Music Industry



Last night I sent this e-mail to a music-loving friend of mine…

so i saw this story tonight…

where mccartney was first artist to sign with starbucks label.

i was pissed when i read it ’cause the first thing i thought was…”why would he sign with a ‘coffee’ label but not let beatles stuff sell on iTunes?” then i read the story and saw where the whole deal involves a special page on the itunes store.

sometimes it’s hard to keep your chin up about the integrity of artists and the nitty-gritty of professional music…especially when you’re reminded time and again that it’s NOT all about the music…it’s really all about the mighty dollar.

i think all those people in the entertainment industry are secretly republicans.

rolls eyes at the world

He replied with a link to this blog analysis, which I think makes some pretty valid points about today’s music industry. Here’s my favorite quote:

The mainstream is imploding. If you’re in the disc business, you’d better be niche, or you’d better GET OUT!

Your only hope is to put out something SO far under the radar that people will seek it out as a badge of honor. But with the search and destroy marketing campaign that will accompany McCartney’s record, people will RUN!

This says a LOT…no matter what artist you plug into the thought…Paul McCartney…Ray Lamontagne…Taylor Hicks.

Unfortunately, there’s no perceived quality in the whole MUSIC sphere. From the Pussycat Dolls to the Shins. Unless you’re a believer, you’ve tuned out. THIS is the problem. The great mass of humanity no longer has a new music jones. Because they’ve been burned too many times, and they can’t make sense of the landscape.

So. Very. True.


42 Responses to ““The (music) mainstream is imploding”…Great Analysis of Today’s Music Industry”

  1. double d Says:

    I think it comes down to a Musicians’ Revolution. Until they “reset the course of the river”, this kind of shit will persists. And why? G-R-E-E-D. Because 3 houses and 6 cars aren’t enough. Because for most of them, the MONEY means more than the music. I think you give two examples where that might not necessarily be the case. Ray and Taylor. I know, I know, they need to eat to live and stuff but really, I don’t think either want to or need to be bigger “sellers” than Elvis or The Beatles.

    Here’s a good article about Taylor that I think says a lot. He basically says here that he’d be content making $80,000 to $90,000 grand with a “good 401k plan” and entertaining others.

    Maybe that’s why he really doesn’t care about who he pisses off, if he’s not as a big seller as Chris and about videos and such. He may be a little smarter and truer to who he really is than we think.

    All day meetings today, so no play for me….hate it since this is such a great topic.

    Have fun….dd.

  2. Shelley Says:

    But a question on my mind is…IF an artists becomes extremely popular…do they pay a price as “bigger sellers”?

  3. shrewspeaks Says:

    First…Nice discussion! Thanks for including us MBs in on this juicy topic.

    “New Music Jones” Great thought. What causes a change or an evolution in music to make consumers want more? The British Invasion was partly t of the need to shake off the shackles of gentification of Rock-N-Roll. (Hello, Pat Boone doing Little Richard’s Tutti Fruitti eeek!) The Grunge movement grew out of the MilliVanilli days of the late 80’s manufactured pop. These are just a fews scant examples of evolutions in pop/rock as I see ’em.

    Seems when the corporate world catches on and cashes in and smooths out the rough edges of popular music, the public gets miffed ignoring the efforts and questioning the fate of (insert music genre here) and artists push the art in a new direction and a new movement is born.

    In my senior year of high school I remember saying there was “nothing good on the radio.” “I am not into modern music…I am into the roots stuff” (What a dweeb I was) All through college I listened to older stuff (rock and other wise) and I wasn’t the only one doing that; then in 1991…BAM the likes of Nirvana, Pearl Jam, etc.

    Are we at an evolutionary moment? Is the next big thing about to happen? I remember when grunge hit you felt it. It was right there. I must say the coporate greed caught up faster with it than before. Has the speed of greed caught up and smoothered the speed of creation? I hope not. I believe, as a creative person, that souls need to express themselves despite the monitary need. Are more artists happy with singular expression vs. mass expression?

    I am confussed and I have a headache.

  4. Shelley Says:

    Seems when the corporate world catches on and cashes in and smooths out the rough edges of popular music, the public gets miffed ignoring the efforts and questioning the fate of (insert music genre here) and artists push the art in a new direction and a new movement is born.

    brilliant, shrew. i concur.

  5. Shelley Says:

    this video on msn kind of coincides with this discussion. (you’ll have to scroll down the page to see it..it has picture of Sanjaya on it)

    though it’s more about how Idol is NOT about the quality of singer…it ties in with the other thread today about popularity of performers. Some “analyst” compares Daughtry’s success with Taylor’s.

  6. jenfera Says:

    Shelley, I do think they pay a price if they become big sellers.

    Last week, I went to a Nickelback concert. I bought the tickets for my 12-year-old niece as a surprise for her birthday because they are her favorite band. I came out of that show feeling very manipulated. I ended up writing a piece about it for Sound Check, another blog on the site where I write my food blog.

    I find this all very depressing. I love music, but I really don’t have the patience to sort through the bad to find the good. I do listen to mainstream radio, mostly because my old car doesn’t have a CD player and my MP3 player doesn’t even sound that good in it played through the cassette deck. But, I get so bored with what I hear! My family knows me as a compulsive radio button-pusher. I try to contain myself a little bit when other people are in the car, but when I am alone, watch out. I am pounding on those buttons, desperately searching for a song I actually enjoy.

    I don’t get why it has to be so hard. And nothing gets my hackles up (does anyone ever get their hackles down?) faster than music snobbery. That bit about

    Your only hope is to put out something SO far under the radar that people will seek it out as a badge of honor.

    makes me insane. There are 3 music blogs on the same site as my blog, and I have no clue what any of them are talking about generally, because God forbid anyone pledge their love for anything you might actually hear on the radio. That would be so uncool. Puh-lease.

    Hey, maybe I can bring this all back around full circle to a point (do I have one in here somewhere? Do circles have points?) Maybe this has something to do with AI’s popularity. It’s like the Supreme Monkbot himself has said, where else can a family sit together and get a musical education like Idol? Because, I gotta tell ya, a Nickelback concert ain’t the place to do it.

  7. Shelley Says:

    Jen…i added a video up top in honor of you. Ha.

    Though music snobbery can be irritating…I really do believe it serves a greater good. It keeps the mystic of true art alive….imho

  8. shrewspeaks Says:

    Awe yeah…CUSACK!

  9. bamaborntxbred Says:

    I’ve not been commenting b/c I don’t really know what to say….

    I, like Jenfera, can’t stand music snobbery either. I’m no intellectual, I’m not in “the biz”…all I know is what I like, and what I don’t. Sometimes I wonder why other people like the music they do….

    What I do like is choice. I can liken it to food (of course): Sometimes, I just want to go someplace where I know I’m going to get food that I can count on to be decent, passable service, inexpensive prices…somewhere comfortable like Chili’s. This is like “Top 40” to me. I listen to “Top 40” music when I want something in the background, something to work out to (ha!), clean my house to…you know, I don’t have to put a lot of thought into it…It’s just kind of there…and I’m just be-bopping along. Now, in a restaurant like Chili’s, there are things on the menu that I think are gross…and I don’t know why anyone would want to eat that…same as “Top 40″…I mean, why Nickleback??? WHY????

    Now, sometimes, I will go out of my way to seek a restaurant experience that is “off the beaten track”. Like when I go to the tiny hole-in-the-wall authentic Mexican food restaurant that’s 45 minutes from my house…b/c they have THE BEST chicken mole that you can find in TX. Or, like when we went to Irene’s in NOLA…which the locals know and love. These restaurants are like “Indie Music” to me. I listen to lesser known artists, or un-popular genres when I want to “experience” the music I listen to. I don’t always have the time or the “mental energy” to give to these “experiences”. In the smaller, family owned restaurants I may find the quality of food, atmosphere, etc. is a 1000x better, sometimes the prices are more…sometimes less…but I don’t always want to drive 45 minutes…or pay more…or wear anything but sweats. I may completely enjoy myself more…but if that’s all I ever experienced…they would become cheapened.

    I like choice. I want to be able to choose to listen to Britney, or eat ordinary food. I want to be able to choose to listen to Beethoven, or eat at the expensive French Bistro around the corner from my house…

    Maybe that makes ME greedy or ordinary…it probably does…I probably am…but such is life and human nature.

  10. jenfera Says:

    Mwah ha ha ha ha!! Thanks, Shelley! One of the blogs I am talking about is written by a guy who owns an indy music store! Here’s a quote from this guy, regarding the Grammys:

    Carrie Underwood is a shapely, twenty something blond with a voice like most decent singers. Sweet, in tune and listenable. It’s an inanimate object. Picture a pencil singing. Or a desk drawer. It made me sick that she completely ignored Mr. Coleman when she accepted the award. But then I realized that the reason she has no idea who he is wasn’t based on any egocentric whitewashing. It was merely that she didn’t know. Of course she doesn’t. I found out later that night that she was an American Idol winner. Just some lucky girl that “fought her way to the top” on the old boob tube. Music is a paycheck to her. As it is with ninety percent of the people that were featured on this program. The state of the corporate music world, I’m sad to say, is still a collective Castrati that had his heart removed as well.

    You don’t know how bad I wanted to skewer him in his comments. But I knew I couldn’t say what I wanted to in an intelligent way. At least not in a way that wouldn’t get me mocked. It would have come out something like, “You don’t even know who she is! What is with the snap judgements? That makes you as bad as the industry! Dude, there’s this guy Taylor who won this year! He’s a songwriter, he’s paid his dues, he just found another way around the system. I’m thinking sour grapes, buddy, since none of your bands ever got signed. Research a little first!” Which would have just been mean and troll-like of me. So I didn’t do it. Plus, he does actually have a point. I just didn’t like the way he chose to make it.

    Okay, hackles down now!

    Monkbot – Smoothing Out Hackles Daily

  11. jenfera Says:

    Oh, and bama, I loved the restaurant analogy!

  12. Shelley Says:

    yeah…restaurant analogy is great. but…it makes me hungry for some chicken rosemarie at irene’s.

    jen…the guy was a little harsh on carrie…but i have to say…i nodded in agreement with much of what he said…especially this “Music is a paycheck”. I think that more times than not in the industry today…that IS the case.

    is very sad…but not surprised.

  13. baby duck Says:

    The irony is that the announcement comes at the same time as WSJ reports declining CD sales. But providing music is a direction Starbucks has been going in for awhile. To me, signing Sir Paul just seems a kick-ass, attention-grabbing way to launch the label. Here is a good article about the venture with Concord Music Group.

    From another article: “Glen Barros, president of Concord Music Group, said the new label would not be limited to certain genres, and his company has expanded into adult contemporary pop, rock, soul and R&B.
    “The nice thing about Starbucks is you have the platform to expose great music without worrying whether it fits in a particular box or strategy,” Barros said. The two sides collaborated previously to create Ray Charles’ “Genius Loves Company,” which has sold more than 5.5 million copies and won eight Grammy awards. If Hear Music releases eight albums a year, it would be considered a small independent label…”

    I go to Starbucks. I can’t think of a time when there hasn’t been a line, or the tables have been empty. I don’t think that’s going to change any time soon. Would there be an objection to seeing Taylor Hicks’ album on the rack next to Ray’s while waiting in line? Or a problem hearing ‘The Right Place’ in the background while reading the paper or visiting with friends? There’s been a lot of angst recently about how to get Taylor’s music more exposure on the radio. How about the opportunity to have it heard by 44 million people weekly? Do you think Taylor would have less integrity if his next album came out on the Starbucks label? Or if his music were part of the library of songs available to burn at Hear Music Coffeehouses?

    Seattle is a music mecca. Birthplace of Starbucks and grunge. Acclaimed multi-night Jazz Alley. Street musicians at Pike Street Market who probably rival the one’s in NO (although I can’t say for sure since Bama hasn’t posted the vid). And yet no radio airplay for JTFTW, and Taylor’s concert still is not sold out. I can’t help thinking maybe it would be different if Starbucks customers had heard his music while ordering their Vendi Vanilla Latte.

  14. ridearoundsally Says:

    I dont know..lately I think the whole music scene has gone to hell in a handbasket. I could be wrong. It has taken me a while to get out of the British music scene and into the American one. When we were young we jumped from one genre to another…I went from punk to new romantic to Madonna style! to Mod to rocker. It was never mixed. I grew up with Paul Weller, Simon Le Bon, Chrissie Hynd, Bananarama, Paul young, the damned, the squeeze, U2, The police, The Jam etc…these guys never seeked fortune and fame…infact they were rarely seen in the limelight. There was no such things as meet and greets or autographs at back doors..they were smuggled in and out of venues secretly. It didnt bother them if they played to a half filled house. Infact..after 20 min into the show, the doors would be open to the public free of charge. They did what they did for the love of the music and they were loved and respected by fans for it. These are the guys and groups that are still kicking about today and are still much loved. We used to hear urban myths about how this kid turned up at the concert early and got to help set up the stuff..and was made unofficial roadie..hehe..that was like winning the lottery as you just did not see any of these bands in real life.
    I miss the old music days. Those were the days when everything was put out under the radar..and if you were good then you were discovered and there were no big corporate music guys to so call spoil it by exploitation. The music was raw and unplugged for the most part. Well it was in the UK at least. Sorry if this has stayed off topic..I seem to be good at doing that these days!! My hubby in his infinite wisom did touch on a silimar point about Taylor, he suggested also that he may be content with his lot that he has right now and sees no further need to push himself (money wise). Who knows!!
    Sal x

  15. baby duck Says:

    Sorry for the broken link. Try this.

  16. Shelley Says:

    I grew up with Paul Weller, Simon Le Bon, Chrissie Hynd, Bananarama, Paul young, the damned, the squeeze, U2, The police, The Jam etc…these guys never seeked fortune and fame


    simon le bon, bananrama and even the police were totally commercial.

    i think the police were one of the fortunate few to parlay that into phenomenal fame…but as soon as they did hit “synchronicity” they made with the trouble that comes with swallowing the corporate pill.

    duran duran…i love ’em…but they were all about image.

    now maybe you are referencing these folks from their days BEFORE they became worldwide icons…but i think they wre all ABOUT fame and fortune.

    if paul young wasn’t…wouldn’t he still be putting out music…at least in the back room of some seedy club?

  17. ridearoundsally Says:

    Heyyyy dont knock my Paul Young..hes still going strong in the UK..he just released a new album last year called “Rock swings”..just cause he aint across the puddle!!! He even has tour dates this year…hmmph! Yea Shell I was talking waaaayyyy back..late seventies/early eighties when the groups were playing small venues and hadnt made it to America yet. Im not blaming America in any way..it was just always though that if you made it to the states you had made it big time. (boy did I get a dissy) I think the “corporate pill” or more fondly known as the “bitterist pill” came about early 90’s in the UK when all that crazy crap came about like..The artist formerly known as..etc…then as you say..it became all about image and who had the biggest and fastest car or the biggest house.
    Sad really.
    Sal x

  18. bamaborntxbred Says:

    My post wasn’t about food or restaurants.

    It was about the freedom to choose.

  19. Shelley Says:

    i got that…but your ANALOGY was about food and restaurants…and it was a good ANALOGY.

  20. jenfera Says:

    Bama, it was a really good analogy. So good, it really got me thinking. Because I am an admitted food snob. And now I am sitting here wondering if I am as annoying as music snobs. My sister is a Top 40 kind of girl, all the way – music and restaurants. We’ll be out shopping or visiting our mother and inevitably the big lunch debate will come up. My sister will say let’s just go to Chili’s or Applebee’s, and I will say because chain restaurants are bad! And she’ll say, what’s so bad about them? And I’ll say everything! Everything is covered up in mystery sauces to cover the lack of quality in the ingredients. The menus are all the same. There’s nothing healthy. There are no local ingredients.

    And she’ll say at least you know what you are getting. And she has a point. Sometimes that’s all that matters, and she does deserve that choice.

    Unfortunately, in my experience, finding good, fresh, quality music or good, fresh, quality restaurants isn’t always that easy.

    In the end, I refuse to apologize for having a CD collection loaded with Sting, Eric Clapton, Bruce Springsteen, U2, Eagles & Aerosmith. So, I guess I have no business making my sister apologize for wanting to go to Applebee’s.

    I am in desperate need of some squishy muffin bunnies. I am way too depressed now.

  21. bamaborntxbred Says:

    Shelley- I appreciate that you found my ANALOGY good, but I was hoping that you would comment on the POINT I was making about choice(s). I think that having greater variety in music is a good thing.


    An artist may succumb to the almighty dollar over his/her art…or they may not. Everything in this world degenerates….Anything that starts out fresh and new will deteriorate into rot and ruin. It’s the lot of the fallen world.

    Jenfera- Thanks for the comments…that’s totally what I’m getting at. BTW- I LOVE mystery sauce….

  22. Shelley Says:

    Bama…by me saying your analogy was good…i was saying your point was good.

    But, since that wasn’t clear, let me say…you’re right…having choices…from Britney (a.k.a. Burger King) to Ray Lamontagne (a.k.a. Irene’s) is the spice of life…and a very good thing.

  23. nolagirl Says:

    Just popping in for a sec to say man, did Taylor phone in that interview DD posted or what? I have a sneaking suspicion that he was on his bus in N.O. on the phone with that reporter, only to be distracted by three lovely ladies, his buddy Brian Less, a Monkbot and a camera. Yeah, that had to be it.

  24. baby duck Says:

    I don’t get Bob Lefsetz. What is he saying, that Paul McCartney can’t produce a good album because it is released through Starbucks? Is his beef with the label signing a has-been (his word, not mine) so they can capitalize on the name recognition, or that “no one (meaning himself) EXPECTS the material of ANY has-been/classic rock/baby boomer act to be any good” and therefore he isn’t deserving of the marketing campaign that will accompany the record? I really don’t care about Paul and/or his success with this album. But who would Lfesetz have Starbucks sign for their initial release? Someone who can lend “an iconic nameplate” to “serve as an ‘anchor’ artist who may help sway other musicians to the label” as Starbucks intends. If his name can recruit artists who are having a difficult time getting radio play and having their voices heard, what’s wrong with that?

    Lefsetz says, “Used to be that Starbucks was a filter. But the company burned that out.” I’d suggest a look at their music offerings (if you can get past the sucky interface) before jumping to that conclusion.

    He claims, “we want quality, undersold”. As in what, quality artists on the brink of looking for work at a bank, who have to go banging on doors of Indie producers, begging for a chance? Before we get all schmaltzy over the indies, we may want to refresh our memories with this little gem.

    The blog you link to is the only one I’ve had time to read, but I want to look at more of his posts as his bio indicates he has music industry insider insights, which is something I’m interested in.

  25. shrewspeaks Says:

    Music as a paycheck…gah…what a depressing thought. Imagine…feeling the way you do about your 9-5 if you were traveling and performing? OMG! Shoot me now. The only thing that keeps me sane is knowing I haven’t realized all my dreams, yet. Wow, the thought has snapped some dark twisted synaps in my brain…toiling for ten years in little roadhouse, working so hard to get ahead and make it on a penny, then you strategize and finally get your break…and you find that you hate it! I would be extremely depressed. I am not saying anyone is like this…I am just saying when your passion becomes just a job…it is time for a career change.

    I am glad Lamontagne had an epiphany…he does it cause he has too, compelled from within.
    I think Mayer is the same way. Others…not too sure. Elvis Costello I think does it from a inate need, maybe Van Morrison too. Who else?

  26. shrewspeaks Says:

    I am sorry I went off on a tangent; but the thought made my head spin.

    *hangs head in shame*

  27. HicksChick4Soul Says:

    Ok so I’m the first one to admitt the I don’t know ANYTHING about music–well not technically anyway….huh….does that even make sense……..although I do agree with y’all about the whole thing with artists doin’ it more for the money than the music–especially the popular ones. Anyways, I GOTTA stop reading this post and these comments because I am litterally getting hungry reading it–Starbuck’s and all those restaurant references……AHHHHH!!!!

  28. baby duck Says:

    To correct my comment above, I should have referred to Don Van Cleve as an Indie gatekeeper, not producer. He’s the President of the Coalition of Independent Music Stores. And sorry for all the pronouns. Hope you can figure out which he he is. 🙂

  29. leejolem Says:

    I am way out of my league on this discussion, but I will say as a consumer who doesn’t buy CD’s very often and doesn’t download on ITunes, I’m very attracted to the CD’s they have on display while the music is playing in the background at Starbucks. For some reason it catches my attention there so much more than at a big store like Best Buy or even Barnes and Noble. Even though their prices are inflated I have often considered buying because it’s not someone I’ve heard on Top 40 and the artist is unknown to me or kind of shoved to the back of my brain.

  30. leejolem Says:

    OT– someone quoted an interview from TH on GC today that he stated his band liked monkeys. You think it’s cuz everywhere they go there are women taking their pics with a mysterious cymbal playing chimp?? I thought it was too funny.

  31. ivoryhut Says:

    Great topic and comments. This is something I’ve occasionally mulled over, and to save myself from the headache, I over-simplify it to myself thusly:

    1. In the ideal world, the music we hear would be by genuine and sincere artists writing about what they really care about. They’d do this regardless of the reward (or lack of it – but remember, this is an ideal world, so they’d always be rewarded)

    2. In the real world, if you make it big, you make mucho moolah.

    3. Any industry that offers the potential for mucho moolah will attract those who want the moolah more than anything else. Whether or not they make meaningful music is beside the point. But since meaningful music does seem to have an advantage in garnering said moolah, then it’s a nice by-product that benefits us. (Along with the music of said genuine and sincere artists who still manage to survive in this real world.)

    4. I don’t really care much anymore what the artist’s true intentions are. Because really, how can we get inside their heads and be sure that what we hear isn’t part of the marketing mechanism? I’d make myself dizzy trying to figure it all out. And in the end, all I really want is good music. So gimme good music!

    Oh, and I’m with Bama all the way on that. Choice is good. Both in music and food. Because sometimes, I shamelessly crave a sloppy double double In n Out burger animal style. Which is sooooo not indie.

  32. double d Says:

    Shrew — I think Taylor is like those you mentioned…I don’t think he hates performing and traveling one damn bit. I do think that the “fans” get tiring even though he says he enjoys the fans the most out of touring. Maybe he enjoys the fans during the concerts, but before and afterwards — not so much. I think he’d be a lot more animated if that were true. (And I’m speaking from seeing him with my own two eyes in N.O. — polite but certainly not “involved”.)

    While I don’t want to get on the Meet & Greet tangent, I just think that if it’s too much, cut it out…or cut it back. Instead of 50 people coming through for an impersonal photo, Stepford signature and no kun-NECK-shun, pick 5 in each city that you spend 30 minutes or 1 hour with sitting around a table, having a beer and talking about THE MUSIC — what they like about yours, what they’d like to hear you sing, etc. THAT, would be revoluntionary.

  33. wompuss Says:

    Dang, yaw’ll are makin me feel old…and hongry.

  34. double d Says:

    For the record, I agree with Shrew that basically, voids are filled. When the chasm between people’s tolerance and actual “good stuff” widens, other less mainstream things fill the void. That’s when folks go lucking for new or different things — like Marc Broussard, like Amos Lee, like Ray LaMontagne, like, well you get the picture. Not totally “indy” but certainly off the beaten path.

    Remember, Donna Summer was a god before Disco died. Then she could get cab fare to sing MacArthur Park in Times Square. Music evolves and changes, but I’m with Bama….it’s great to have choices.

  35. double d Says:

    crap. “folks go lucking”….should be folks go looking.


  36. Squeebee Says:

    Well I missed the discussion today as I was out and about, but everyone made some really good points. Specifically, I really agreed with what Ivoryhut had to say:

    “In the ideal world, the music we hear would be by genuine and sincere artists writing about what they really care about. They’d do this regardless of the reward (or lack of it – but remember, this is an ideal world, so they’d always be rewarded)”

    This all ties into the “music snob” idea, as I see it. Why is it that musicians should be held to a higher “moral code” when it comes to their craft? We all have our careers, and while they may not be our choice for life’s work, don’t we do our jobs to make a living? I don’t buy the whole,”starving artist” ideal at all. I think as long as the artist is representing themselves in a “real” way, who are we to tell them how much money they can make before they are considered to have “sold out”?

  37. double d Says:

    Here’s the Taylor interview in St. Louis that Leejolem referenced…..the “monkey” quote is the very last thing he says.

    Makes you wonder……

  38. Libby Says:

    The big business mission is a part of every industry. It appears it may be even more true in the eolution of music delivery channels, such as: CD, MP3, Satelite radio, inernet et al.

    I did not see Taylor off stage here in atl. However, in reading so many recaps here and at GC — I agree — he should just drop the meet and greets for rigth now. His tour schedule is grueling — and trying to interact with fans being ever mindful of hid p’s and q’s. Ehen the tour ends — he has the book promotion and then prep for album #2. It would intimidating for any of ud.

  39. Dr. Bob Says:

    Alright — don’t get me started. I will get on a soapbox if I have to …

    I have to say that the whole “selling out” thing really bugs me. For a variety of reasons, but I will get there.

    First, I make NO excuses for the fact that I have no musical taste. I resonate with the phrase “It’s got a great beat and I can dance to it, I give it a 87, Dick”. Point number one, therefore is — Music snobs are booooring — in part because I am such an ignoramus. For the most part, when people start talking about music, my eyes glaze over.

    Second, I am married to a musician (poor guy!) who has ravenous, eclectic tastes in music. He listens to everything. He is the anti-snob, because he can enjoy almost anything. He has every right to be a snob, because he knows so much, but he isn’t.

    Third — what is the big deal if people make a living making music? It reminds me of my own profession — we are supposed to be humanitarians and work for free. Musicians are supposed to subsist on sunlight and oxygen, I guess. Why is being a starving artist noble and being successful selling out? I don’t get it.

    To some extent, I think that the whole indie music thing is a way for people to feel superior (see High Fidelity, above). Granted, it is great to find someone new and appreciate them and to share with others. But music is also a way to tell people about you — who you are and what is important to you. People want to look superior — and liking an artist who everyone likes does not raise you above the herd. Music snobs want to look like they are able to appreciate things that the average person is not smart or informed or cool enough to understand. Enter the sullen, snobby artist who says, “I don’t want a lot of people to like me, because then I will be understood, and therefore less interesting” and dismisses other artists as selling out.

    And I could care less if musicians are true to themselves and their art. To be honest, I don’t even know what that means. Just make music that I like and I will buy it. Maybe. Aren’t musicians providing a service like everyone else?

    So, the music industry has to change. It seems to me that the internet is the great equalizer — everyone can find what they want. I think that people are going to stop buying music in stores altogether. Just look at the difference that iTunes has made. It is interesting from a cultural point of view, but the music industry is going to crumble, but be changed into something else.

    And finally, lots of interesting ideas, you all. Shrew, I think that what you said was funny and sad — what if you tour for ten years, get famous and find you don’t like it? Sorta like, what if you spend 12 years in college, get a degree, and find that you don’t like being psychologist … Oh, wait. That would not be funny! I guess that you suck it up and you do your best, and you find a way to enjoy what you can with what you have. At least Taylor would not have student loans…

  40. Jan Says:

    This is an interesting discussion. I have bought, had given to me, or gotten for free at lease 30 CDs in the last few months. The station I listen to plays something I haven’t heard every single day. I love music and I am not sure if I am a music snob or not. Maybe. I am pretty open to hearing new stuff. I have had people give me music by Jay-Z, Tupac, King Crimson, Greg Brown, Muse, The Slip, The Donnas, Heartless Bastards, Ojos de Brujo, Tool, Various Harp players, The Meters and more in the last 6 months. Some I liked and some I didn’t but the hope that the music will touch me in some way keeps me trying. I want to hear music that makes me feel more than apathy or annoyance.

    I support independent music in all it’s glory. That doesn’t mean I like everything I buy or even most of it. I may buy 10 CDs and like 1 or none. I have bought a couple of CDs from Starbucks. KT Tunstall and Prince. I like the KT Tunstall but only listened to it a couple of times. I didn’t listen to the Prince CD all the way through even once. I was blown away by his performance at the Season Finale but it just didn’t work out on the CD. I love the CDs they have that are a mix of what a given artists loves musically. I love it.

    What does sold out mean? I said about a year ago that one of my favorite artists, Guy Forsyth, had sold out. I regret that because I’ve seen him live about 4 times since then and I was wrong. He was finally starting to achieve commercial success and there was a song played on the radio that I just didn’t like. I’ve seen him performing for 7 years and the difference from CD to CD is big because he keeps evolving as an artist. I don’t always like the direction he’s going but he’s always on that journey.

  41. leejolem Says:

    Dr bob, “at least Taylor would not have student loans”–that is toooo funny!!!

  42. patrickkaddiddlehopper Says:

    You know what i think shell? I think all these hip young bands are wearing COSBY SWEATAAS!!!

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