The Way the Music Died


Be sure to catch the Frontline show tonite:

The modern music scene was created in 1969, at Woodstock. Half a million fans, dozens of artists, and the politics of the times came together as a big bang moment that eventually would generate billions of dollars. But over the last twenty years, MTV, compact discs, corporate consolidation, Internet piracy, and greed have contributed to a perfect storm for the recording industry. FRONTLINE examines how the business that has provided the soundtrack of the lives of a generation is on the verge of collapse.


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  1. chad rich commented on May 27

    Sorry, its 10:40 here out east, so unfortunately I missed frontline, hopefully a re-run will air shortly. However, I would like to comment on the death of (rock)music. Since I’m only 27, my discussion will do with the MTV era of pop music. Contrary to what many people believe, money is not the problem. It certainly is for many artists (hair metal anyone?) What makes an artist “timeless” is their love of the music they play. A prime example of why money isnt the problem is Phish. A band that started over 20 years ago and made only one video (which I’ve never even seen). Phish caters specifically to themselves, which in a sense is their audience. How has file sharing affected phish? Haha – they’ve harnessed the internet with revolutionary zeal. Phish is known, like the dead, to never play the same set twice. They let the audience tape live shows and let them freely “share” them with whomever they want. Check out where you can browse recent shows, check the set list, and purchase($10) the right (for 48 hrs) to download that complete show. Its been a huge success. Thats one example of using “laffer curve style” economics in the music industry. Widespread Panic is similar to phish in what they do. The other example is the Beastie Boys. Always concerned about the beats, and never the money, thats why they still get paid, as they boast in their latest single. True they release albums almost decades apart, but still I wont be “stealing” this album. Why? Its the love. You can hear they still love what they do. Their latest single ch-ch check it out is as close as anyone gets to the beginning of rap back in the early 80’s. The beasties are the only ones left from that era and they still “kick it” in that fashion. These youngsters today – Brittney, Nsync, and whoever the hell else compete against each other, for popularity – thats all (high school all over). They are completely unconcerned with making music “new” – that is they do not experiment. They never seek out something new.
    If you want real music. You will not find it on Clear Channel, or MTV PERIOD.
    Rock isnt dead. NOT by a LONG SHOT. Guided By Voices have been pumpin out WHO style REAL rock for over a decade. Built to spill, is another one. Pavement was long-time indie rock gods for close to a decade, until they split. The point is, the market has already rejected mass produced pop. Who supports it? Parents do. 13 year olds. There is an entire network devoted to youngsters 13-15; its MTV. Indie rock has been the home of real rock for the past decade. Individuals over the age of 16 realize the inherent fakeness in MTV and seek “real rockers”. The white stripes have somehow been able to walk this line without peril, as of yet. Rock isnt dead. The conventional way of selling it is. Once you try to “sell yourself” (which really is nothing more than getting exposure) especially to the college crowd (who are patently against capitalism itself) you’re through. Thats why GBV, Built to Spill, and Pavement never tried to sell themselves. It was always word of mouth, and selling themselves night in night out. Because they love playing to live audiences. When all you have is the live show, they better be killer. The only exception here is pavement. They have made videos, but you only saw them monday mornings at 3 am. Pop music is dead thanks soley to MTV. There have been anomolies – beck, the black crowes come to mind now (5 others will as soon as I post this). There are killer bands out there right now, I find it extraordinarily similar to finding the next MSFT.
    One thing is interesting. The goal for “white bands” is longevity – hence the shunning of media. They know that wide exposure means a shorter life cycle. Why is that important? Because these acts want to be playing 10 years from now. Media exposure is an almost guarantee that their flavor will wear off within 3-5 years. However, in hip-hop, the artist is celebrated for “selling out”. No surprise there. As a matter of fact thats one of the reasons I enjoy hip-hop; they are absolutely without shame, and proud that their music is played everywhere. They view it as a conquest, yet many end up in the same place. There is only one black rap group that made it out of the 80’s. N.W.A. The group didn’t make it, but the two principle founders have went on to amazing success. Ice cube, and Dr. Dre.
    Another reason is that studio albums suck period. The technology has turned many away from mass produced music soley because the technology masks the true talent of the band. This became obvious during that horrible period known as “hair metal”. You could grab anyone off the street and make them superstars for 6 months. Thats why you saw the emergence of “grunge”. Yes it was still commercial, but every single artist had to go out of their way to prove that they weren’t “sellouts”. Hence the detail taken (clothing wise) to prove that they were indeed “real” Look at Eddie Veder, or Kurt Cobain in their videos. They looked like they came from a constuction site in every single video from that era. Oh yes, no hair spray or make up. In short, rock isnt dead. The old way of selling it is. Itunes isnt revolutionary, in fact its the same ole thing. 1$/per song? Generally 15 songs to an album. Hum. Thats the same thing as buying a CD. Damn a dvd is cheaper, than a full length album. Bring downloads down to a nickel and you’ll create that huge vacuum that LTCM tried so desperately to create.

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