Why HBO Is Not Like the Music Business

We believe in it because there’s no advertising.

That’s not completely true, that’s just the icing on the cake. The truth is HBO is a paragon of excellence with deep pockets that attracts the best creators in media. And when HBO says yes, which is not that often, it gives carte blanche to those creators, believing art is best left to the artists.

Sounds like Mo Ostin’s Warner Brothers, I know!

So HBO has Bill Maher, who offends people on a regular basis, caring not a whit if you disagree with him.

And “Vice,” which takes you to places you didn’t know existed or never wanted to go to and makes you want to buy a plane ticket, gets you so riled up by the world’s inequities that you want to protest, just like you did in the sixties.

And John Oliver, who uses comedy to poke fun at the ridiculousness of life.

And it is ridiculous. Public life. All the ass-kissing. I watched this iHeartRadio Country Festival on Yahoo and it made me want to puke. The constant screaming, the endless plaudits, what world do these people live in? ONE IN WHICH RADIO CONTROLS THEIR CAREER DESTINY, SO THEY’D BETTER PLAY BALL!

Everybody in music is beholden to someone else. Bob Dylan had it right, when he said you’ve got to serve somebody. And it’s true, but how bad is your boss?

The Warner Brothers of the past is not the Warner Brothers of the present. Today’s record company wants to own everything you do and pay you little for it and if you don’t succeed instantly they’re going to kick you to the curb.

So in order to make your numbers, you tie up with the corporations. Who are people according to Mitt Romney, who have our best interests at heart.


So John Oliver is poking fun at the Bud Light controversy, wherein their tagline says the beer eviscerates the word NO. Despite five layers of scrutiny, no one could see the implication of rape. And that’s corporate America, so up its own ass it can’t see a bit of light.

But what’s even better is the show pokes fun at Bud Light’s advertising. The same thing the musicians and the Kardashians and the rest of the nitwits clamor to be a part of.

The game is…if you drink the Bud Light on hidden camera, you get to play with Peyton Manning. This is real. Bud Light has hidden cameras in bars and the reward is life-sized Pac-Man and other inanities.

But no one in the John Oliver version will drink the horse piss. They keep putting it down. They don’t want to work on Maggie’s Farm no more.

And there you have it, the transition over fifty years from Bob Dylan telling you to not follow leaders and watch the parking meters to country artists putting brands in songs. And you wonder why we live in a golden age of television and music is in the dumper…


But what’s worse is everybody working in music stokes the fire. Sponsorship is good… That’s what makes Live Nation’s numbers. That’s what will give you marketing money, if you’re rich it’ll go straight to your bottom line.

And you know why punters can’t get good concert tickets? Because American Express has paid for all the good ones. That’s right, AmEx writes a check so they can sell access to the good seats to their cardholders as a perk. And if for some reason you’ve got a Citi card, you’re out of luck.

Then again, sometimes Citi screws AmEx. So you’ve got to have them all. Kind of like Hulu, Netflix, Amazon, HBO…

But no, you can buy HBO all by its lonesome. For fifteen bucks.

A good value proposition?

Well, let’s see, they’ve got “Game Of Thrones” and the rest of the aforementioned series. And the archives have the “Sopranos”…

But there’s not new programming 24/7! We don’t get to view inane reality programming? Isn’t that today’s media landscape, people make it but no one wants to watch it, kind of like your track on Spotify, which goes unheard.

HBO decided to take the high road. Sure, they market, but there’s no smoke and mirrors, no bait and switch. And the outlet knows that only programming of the highest quality will keep its enterprise going. People can cancel EVERY MONTH!

But more than 30 million households subscribe to HBO.

They are believers.

Not Beliebers.

Justin is an uneducated idiot who the machine told us was talented but we knew was a flash in the pan. Kim Kardashian will have a longer lifespan.

And we keep hearing how great Kanye West is, but he hasn’t done anything good in ages other than complain on a world class level. His sales suck because the audience cancelled him long ago. But the media didn’t get the message. It was as if the “Times” and “USA Today” kept writing about “Deadwood.”

But they don’t.

HBO gets respect.

And it doesn’t beg for it.

Because it’s above the fray, beholden to no one.

It’s a cultural issue. Music is bankrupt. The only acts with credibility are those without traction. As if everybody who couldn’t get on HBO said they deserved to.

“Dream On” was twenty five years ago. “Larry Sanders” last century. It took HBO decades to become a juggernaut. You don’t change people’s impressions that quickly. And you don’t know what you’re doing that soon. Takes a while to figure it out, takes a while to be good.

So while you’re salivating for corporate dough, tens of millions are drinking at the HBO trough, which is credible and skeptical. Not drinking the kool-aid, not accepting the corporate b.s., the antithesis to the mainstream mantra.

Kind of like Frank Zappa.

But he’s been dead for almost twenty five years.

Kind of like the music business.

John Oliver, Bud Light (either watch the whole thing or start at 2:45)

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  1. sooperedd commented on May 11

    I really like HBO, no BS just well written, well acted programs. Plus all the movies.

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