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Be afraid...be very afraid


Billster

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This discussion deserves it's own thread.

 

Originally posted by Bill@Welcome Home Studios:

We have a big problem in the form of corporate rock and roll today. The older bands maintain their audiences. The newer bands don't get a chance to build one.

 

Yes, the radio is perpetuating the Stones and bands like them, and this is because they don't know what else to play.... because they no longer listen to you, they tell you what they want you to hear.

 

Be afraid...be very afraid.

 

Bill

I've contended for a while now that the big problem the record companies have is that they devote no (none, zip, nada, zero) interest or energy to artist development.

 

If a band like the Who came along today, they would have been shit-canned by the label before Tommy came out. They would have been one hit wonders for "My Generation", and the label would have dumped them sometime after the second album wasn't as big a seller as the first.

 

The tools available today allow artists to virtually create a finished album on their own, and then secure global distribution from an entertainment conglomerate. In some ways, that's great, but the problem is that the distribution is all marketing hype, as you say, telling us what to listen to. It's not sustainable, because the mass distributors (record conglomerates) don't allow artist development. They are essentially taking artist who developed themselves, tossing them a one-shot, and then moving on to the next thing they can exploit.

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" record companies have is that they devote no (none, zip, nada, zero) interest or energy to artist development."

 

This is somewhat incorrect. It would be fair to say that corporate giants like Clear Channel are dictating to the labels what they want in an artist, what they will and will not play. This makes it tough to develop any artist.

 

It was alright when there were 12,500 PDs deciding what they wanted on their airwaves, based upon the fair competition in their market. As differejnt stations chose different artists, the public had a say in what became popular. You heard an act on Station A, and asked Station B why they were not playing it. Soon enough, they were.

 

It is a much different landscape now, as there are only a handful representing the majority of the stations, making decisions for all markets. You loose the chance to hear the diverse choices that were once made by 12,500 individuals trying to tailor their station to stand above the rest in their chunk of the market. Now, you are ad AD statisic, and what is played is tailored to appeal to the given statistical average that a particular station is trying to hit. The music itself is secondary to the 'genre', used to sell ads.

 

 

But you guys cannot have it both ways. Even if the labels were not being pressured by the corporate radio giants, the perception of the labels as bad guys and the publics big desire to rip them off and hurt them doesn't makethe jobany easier. I used to go to the record store to browse. Does anyone do that anymore? Can posters and standups and promo items be effective?

 

Bands used to play out, hone their skills, and hope to be lucky enough to record some day. Now every schmuck with a computer thinks that he is a fucking musical genius. He may never have played in front of anyone. He figures they'll hire musicians to back him. No stage experience, no crowd handling, no presence... what is any label supposed to do with THAT?

 

I really think that we've got the cart far before the horse.

 

Bill

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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Originally posted by Bill@Welcome Home Studios:

Now every schmuck with a computer thinks that he is a [edit] musical genius. He may never have played in front of anyone. He figures they'll hire musicians to back him. No stage experience, no crowd handling, no presence... what is any label supposed to do with THAT?l

You left out "No 4 A.M load outs" and "No truck stop showers w/flip flops w/ only enough time to wash the stinky parts"
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Bill -

 

Radio stations: What I see with radio is that the ownership groups like ClearChannel or Infiniti now own multiple stations in each market (thanks to the easing of FCC restrictions) and slot stations to a particular demographic. The songs on the designated "classic" station stay there, and the "new" or "alternative" stuff goes over here, and never the twain shall meet. Even the new darling so-called free-form "Mike" or "Jack" is just another format. True free form is on a handful of college stations with limited range and market awareness.

 

Record stores:I like to browse record stores, but its getting more and more difficult with the kind of saturated market, and all the crossover space devoted to video and knick-knacks. Don't know how to fix that one. Genre specific record stores? Imagine a mall record store called "Just Classics" or "the Jazz Place". Hmmm. How long before it would get co-opted the way radio has?

 

Any schmuck with a PC...: The lack of live performance skill and experience is a huge problem for emerging artists. I used to say that the sophomore slump syndrome was because an artist spent a few years on the club circuit, grinding out music and learning what got a response, and what didn't, so all the good stuff ended up on their big break (album #1). Then they had to tour to play all the big hits from album #1. Then they had six months instead of three years to prepare album #2 (unless you are Tom Scholz).

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Originally posted by Billster:

Imagine a mall record store called "Just Classics" or "the Jazz Place". Hmmm. How long before it would get co-opted the way radio has?

Don't you have those? :confused::eek:

:freak:

Well, maybe they'd be unusual in malls but I thought America would be full of specialist record shops?

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Originally posted by Kramer Ferrington III.:

Originally posted by Billster:

Imagine a mall record store called "Just Classics" or "the Jazz Place". Hmmm. How long before it would get co-opted the way radio has?

Don't you have those? :confused::eek:

:freak:

Well, maybe they'd be unusual in malls but I thought America would be full of specialist record shops?

Not mall stores that I've seen in my area.

 

There are some local/regional chains, but they are full featured, maybe a little slanted to indy rock. The used stores down by Berklee and Kenmore Square were awesome, but I'm rarely in that part of town these days :( , and I know at least two of them are out of business.

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"What I see with .."

 

Yes. That is what they want you to see. Unfortunately, that is not the truth.

 

"but its getting more and more difficult with the kind of saturated market, .."

 

Or how about 'it doesn't matter anymore, because I'm less likely to find a new an interesting artist with which I am unfamiliar'? Shelf space, cost per foot, and store chains (which do not reflect the tastes of any particular owner...) plus cost.. who can afford to stock anything marginal, when it is hard to sell CDs to start with? along with the stilted radio/record label situation, these things make browsing the shelves less interesting. Each city has its special stores that have a faithful audience, but the basic 'record store' as we knew it is gone.

 

 

" I used to say that the sophomore slump syndrome was because an artist spent a few years on the club circuit, grinding out music and learning what got a response, and what didn't, so all the good stuff ended up on their big break (album #1). Then they had to tour to play all the big hits from album #1. Then they had six months instead of three years to prepare album #2 ..."

 

Yeah, I've always said the same thing. 18 years to write album 1, 6 months to a year to write and record album 2, in and among touring and promoting album 1.

 

Bill

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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Re: going to record stores to browse. I still do, sometimes, and there are plenty of other people there.

 

Re: guys at home with computers thinking they are geniuses. Well, maybe one or two of them actually ARE!

 

Bands playing out? Yes, it is important to learn to play in front of people with other musicians. Lots of bands are still out there doing that.

 

But the scene has changed considerably over the years. We just have to find a way to adapt!

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Originally posted by Bill@Welcome Home Studios:

"What I see with .."

 

Yes. That is what they want you to see. Unfortunately, that is not the truth.

 

Bill

:confused:

 

I get your first post about the concentration of PD's going national, not local, and using genre specifics to target advertising sales, with the music a secondary concern.

 

Is that not similar to the station slotting in markets where they own multiple stations?

 

If I'm only seeing what they want me to see, what am I missing?

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Originally posted by Eric Iverson:

Re: guys at home with computers thinking they are geniuses. Well, maybe one or two of them actually ARE!

 

Maybe so. But they are NOT entertainers, which is what the context of the statement was about. writing good music in your PC does not make you a good entertainer. It may make you a good songwriter, or aranger, or looper or whatever, but it does not prepare you to stand on a stage in front of several thousand people, with a band at your back and a PA i front of you, and put on a good show.

 

No, WE do not need to adapt. WE need to play good music in front of an audience. The industry, if it has the desire to reflect the loves of its population and get out of the slump in which it currently resides, needs to go back to an earlier way of picking stars... one that has something to do with talent and ability. Until then, the vast majority of the public will continue to drift away from music as it becomes less and less relevant to their lives, and becomes more and more just background noise that they have on to dull the silence. But the current direction in which the industry is headed glamorizes mediocrity in favor of profits.

 

Bill

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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Originally posted by Bill@Welcome Home Studios:

Until then, the vast majority of the public will continue to drift away from music as it becomes less and less relevant to their lives, and becomes more and more just background noise that they have on to dull the silence.

 

Bill

Thanks to my old drummer, I have a pretty well set title for my little vanity recording project, but the next recording I do is going to be titled "Social Accessories", which is another comment somebody made around here about the current state of music consumers.
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What I meant by "we need to adapt" was to find a way to make a living, not give up on playing live in order to just make music on computers!

 

But at least in NYC there are still plenty of places with live music! People still like to see real human beings on stage!

 

As far the music industry promoting mediocrity, I have to agree, and it IS sad that a handful of companies own the vast majority of the radio stations these days!

 

So I guess we're going to have to find a way to promote ourselves, and support each other as much as possible... get the word out about genuine talent! It's tough when there is so much competition, and so much hype, even on the Net!

 

What can only one man do? Well, I try to go see good musicians play, especially ones I meet that I become friendly with.. and buy their CDs, and tell other people. Not much, but it's a start, and they appreciate the support.

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"I get your first post about the concentration of PD's going national, not local, and using genre specifics to target advertising sales, with the music a secondary concern.

 

Is that not similar to the station slotting in markets where they own multiple stations?

 

If I'm only seeing what they want me to see, what am I missing?"

 

You've got a part of the picture, but not all of it.

 

Okay, 1974... you're the ParkRecords rep. You come into town, where there are three rock stations. You ar egoing to repeat this proceedure many times as you hit the various towns in your territory. You go to each station with your assortment of product, and try to interest the PDs in what you have. Warners (WEA),Columbia, Mercury, RCA, all will be following or came ahead with their product. Each station PD will pick what music he wants to play, based upon their tastes, their station format, and what they think their customers... their listeners... will like.

 

 

2005.. you're the ParkRecords rep. You come into the regional headquarters of RadioConglomerate, who owns 1200 stations. In each of their markets they may own three or four very similar stations, with minor differences in the playback format. You go to the meeting with the PD with your assortment of product, and try to interest the PD in what you have. (Think that you and your label will have a different approach to showing material, given that you only get one shot to cover a huge number of stations?)

 

The PD will pick what music he wants for each station that he oversees in the conglomerate, based upon the station format, and what they think their customers... their advertisers... will like. Big difference. The PDs don't care what you want to hear, they just want music that fits into their vision of their genere. Because they are selling the stations to the advertisers as being target-market specific. Since the stations are under a few large roofs, they are able to do that... no competition, no worry about a real music station interfering with the commerce, since the major conglomerates are all on the same page with this. They no longer have to worry about pesky things like hit lists and audience requests.

 

 

The music becomes the dress on the celebrity on the red carpet... people talk about the dress, but the real message is that the celebrity (the ad) is there.

 

 

The label cannot offer as wide a selection as they did, because they don't have as wide an audience (in the PDs) as they did. It is similar to selling a guitar in your home town paper verses selling it on ebay... the audience size changes the value significantly.

 

What they always say about investigations... follow the money.

 

Bill

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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Thanks for that insight, Bill.

 

So in addition to the slotting of formats/demographics within markets, you are saying the decisions are made on demographics across the board (for multiple markets), so that the Philly station gets the same crap as the Baltimore station, gets the same crap as the Newark station, etc., etc.? Hello McMusic.

 

Interesting parallel to the beer industry. Before prohibition, there used to be regional brewers, with distinctive products. Some of them survived into the 1960's and 70's - Hey neighbor, have a 'Gansett, and in Philly there was Schmidt's but I digress - but eventually national brands like Budweiser and Miller became too dominant. Then came the microbrew revolution of the early '90's. The micros have settled out now, but there are again strong regional brands almost everywhere you go. Perhaps the homemade music (every schmuck with a PC) is where the microbrews were in the mid 1980's. Check back in 15 years.

 

(Think that you and your label will have a different approach to showing material, given that you only get one shot to cover a huge number of stations?)
All sizzle and no steak?
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"Bands used to play out, hone their skills, and hope to be lucky enough to record some day. Now every schmuck with a computer thinks that he is a fucking musical genius. He may never have played in front of anyone. He figures they'll hire musicians to back him. No stage experience, no crowd handling, no presence... what is any label supposed to do with THAT?"

 

Yes so the plan for a serious song writer is to somehow get some experience in front of a audience even if its for low pay or no pay! I think that even if the writer was doing covers and not doing his material there is some value as far as training/battle hardned goes experience goes.

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Originally posted by ellwood:

Yes so the plan for a serious song writer is to somehow get some experience in front of a audience even if its for low pay or no pay! I think that even if the writer was doing covers and not doing his material there is some value as far as training/battle hardned goes experience goes.

Well, I think it's more important to do original material so you can see what a crowd responds to, or at least what presents well.

 

We KNOW the crowd will be happy to hear Brown Eyed Girl again.

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Originally posted by Billster:

I've contended for a while now that the big problem the record companies have is that they devote no (none, zip, nada, zero) interest or energy to artist development.

 

If a band like the Who came along today, they would have been shit-canned by the label before Tommy came out. They would have been one hit wonders for "My Generation", and the label would have dumped them sometime after the second album wasn't as big a seller as the first.

i can see how you would take that position, but let me offer a couple of glaring examples of why it may not be entirely true:

 

radiohead

tom waits

aimee mann

gov't mule

bjork

los lobos

meshell ndegeocello

pavement

pj harvey

wilco

 

to name a few offhand, who have had critical success and record sales, support from their label (FWIW), etc. without being dependent on corporate radio.

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Originally posted by Funk Jazz:

i can see how you would take that position, but let me offer a couple of glaring examples of why it may not be entirely true:

 

radiohead

tom waits

aimee mann

gov't mule

bjork

los lobos

meshell ndegeocello

pavement

pj harvey

wilco

 

to name a few offhand, who have had critical success and record sales, support from their label (FWIW), etc. without being dependent on corporate radio.

Those guys have sustainable careers because they possess that rare quality called talent. The problem is for them to cut through the clutter of Maroon Blink Doors Down 182 five three (hut-hut-hike!) :P

 

Some of 'em are onto their second careers. Next time you see Aimee Mann, request "Voices Carry" ;)

 

Oh, BTW, meet Jen Trynin , who has a story to tell.

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some people would argue whether or not radiohead is talented or just smug, noisy punks - but they were developed over the last 15 years by their record label nonetheless... and not just dropped after their first single "creep" --- exactly the opposite of your Who argument.

 

the point is - you don't HAVE to cut through corporate radio clutter to be successful. talent is only part of the equation - the other 90% is hard work and no excuses ;)

 

radio is so in love with itself, you can have an entire career as a music icon and never have a radio hit, and radio would never be the wiser.

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Originally posted by Billster:

We KNOW the crowd will be happy to hear Brown Eyed Girl again.

Oh...I just LOVE that tune! ;):D

 

 

Originally posted by Bill@Welcome Home Studios:

Bands used to play out, hone their skills, and hope to be lucky enough to record some day. Now every schmuck with a computer thinks that he is a fucking musical genius. He may never have played in front of anyone. He figures they'll hire musicians to back him. No stage experience, no crowd handling, no presence... what is any label supposed to do with THAT?

 

I really think that we've got the cart far before the horse.

These are old arguments I too have made over the last several years!

Everyone is so quick to point out how armed with a small computer based studio in their bedroom...

...and access to the Internet...

...is all it takes these days to "get your music out there"... :rolleyes:

 

Trouble is...a few hundred million other people seem to have the same idea.

So everyone is real busy just loopin' away and punching out them MIDI sequences...churning out one bedroom "hit" after another, and posting it on the web for world-wide "airplay" (yeah, RIGHT!)...

...when in fact no one is really listening to any of that shit (because most of it is shit).

 

I spent a bunch of years doing the "cover" thing...then moved on to playnig originals too...and finally retired to the studio to focus more seriously on writing/recording some good R&R/Pop music(and Bill is close about "18 years for the 1st album")... :D

 

But from this point forward...when the music is ready...I know I can get out there to deliver it...'cuz I've already been out there before.

 

As far as the shit state of music on the radio air waves...

Well, we kinda' got into that a little while back in another thread...and my perspective was apparently too negative for a few folks...but now here we are again looking at that same reality!

Radio programming IS just one big commercial...with some music thrown in to set the proper mood for whatever product is being subliminally marketed and for the chosen target audience.

 

 

Hey...so how many of you are glued to your TV sets for the this seasons American Idol... ;):bor:

 

And we wonder where people get the ideas they get about what it means to write, record and one day hopefully make it in the music biz

miroslav - miroslavmusic.com

 

"Just because it happened to you, it doesn't mean it's important."

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Originally posted by Billster:

Originally posted by ellwood:

Yes so the plan for a serious song writer is to somehow get some experience in front of a audience even if its for low pay or no pay! I think that even if the writer was doing covers and not doing his material there is some value as far as training/battle hardned goes experience goes.

Well, I think it's more important to do original material so you can see what a crowd responds to, or at least what presents well.

 

We KNOW the crowd will be happy to hear Brown Eyed Girl again.

Well ok Bill, yes of coarse it would be great for them to be able to try to do their original material in front of a audience. We do sometimes let writers do this as I meantioned in a post awhile ago. However, it is not always such a great experience for the writer! For instance we have had instances where the writer freezes or get the deer in the headlights syndrome because he is not used to performance, like forgetting the lyrics to his own material,or his chords or both! So again,I think it is important for writers to work on their performance skills even if it's on cover material. The chances for writers to perform in public are very limited and to get a band to back them is even more rare.
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Originally posted by ellwood:

However, it is not always such a great experience for the writer! For instance we have had instances where the writer freezes or get the deer in the headlights syndrome because he is not used to performance, like forgetting the lyrics to his own material,or his chords or both!

That's exactly what Bill Park pointed out in his earlier post - that you have these kinds of folks being tossed onto the arena stage with hired hands for a band. Better they fuck up your show and learn something before they get an arena gig.
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Are there any coffeehouses around (other than at churches) where novice songwriters can get their feet wet?

 

The only coffeehouse we ever played at was a Christian one, and it was a very nice, relaxed atmosphere where we could stretch out, tell jokes if we wanted, interact with the audience... no pressure because we were the only band that night, and no one paid to get in. They took up a collection, which my bandleader told them to keep.

 

I don't know what other kinds of coffeehouses are like. Oh, there is a secular one I once went to in Des Moines, Iowa, where people just hang out and talk and chat on the Net. No cover charge. Sometimes they had entertainment, but I just played cards there the night I was there.

 

The point being that a place like that would be great for your nervous beginners! I wonder how many famous artists started out in a context like that. Anybody know anything about it?

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Originally posted by Eric Iverson:

Are there any coffeehouses around (other than at churches) where novice songwriters can get their feet wet?

 

Open stages abound.

 

Bill

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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