Saturday, February 02, 2008
I'm back (again)
This is your pal Michael "Mr. Bear" Arlt, a 25 year industry vet looking at the things I used to love slowly dying and thinking to myself that "it's too fucked to fix" since it's beyond repair. Too start the ball rolling, when I retired in 2002 the music sucked so bad and I mean SUCKED I couldn't take it anymore. It seems that the labels care about is the green stuff over talent and are looking for the proverbial "it" girl, the one who will give a lucky label a RIAA diamond and a big cash flow so you (record company execs) can party party party. It ain't gonna happen baby bubba, the party's over. I'll tell you why.
The music industry died when it quit developing acts and artists and went the pre-fab route with boy bands, little girl acts, flavor of the month street rappers, attractive teenagers with little or no talent that PR and the media can sell to mindless teenyboppers, and bland guitar based music that used to rock at one time. It seemed to happen back in the late 90's when the public endured the solo outings from the last edition of the Mickey Mouse Klub. Then the crap started to sell in quantities to the point where the labels put everything on the back burner and bringing out one boy band after another (to keep the teenyboppers who made Titanic one of the biggest movies ever) just to rake in their green. I can't forget about Britt and Christina, since they made their labels happy, the music buying public is pummeled by little girl acts which all sound the same, same boring programed, sequenced, and sampled backing tracks, Oh! Britts now in the happy home with chirping birds and basket weavers who twiddle their thumbs and toes, take Rhianna instead, same shit in a different wrapper.
It seems too that you have to have a college degree to get in the biz, me and my friends didn't. My friend Lindell T. was the one who discovered New Found Glory who brought them into the store to play before they were signed to MCA. The labels were hiring college kids to rep the stores who had no clue about the catalog or the artists. When I tried to jump, I was told that "you have to have a MBA to get a label job". Back in the day, it was a bunch of music lovers running the show, now it's just a bunch of frat boys looking for a hot peroxide blond to sign on the doted line. To whoever is in charge of the industry, I have 5 words to say to you:
YOU FUCKED UP BIG TIME!
Back in the day, there was a network called MTV which was a big thing used to break acts when they used to show these things called "videos", which they still show them once in a while. They're shown when they don't have a reality show starring a bunch of spoiled rich kids who live on the beach, or another one about a spoiled 16 year old girl who's bitching about the color of her new BMW convertible, if MTV has no air time available, they'll show videos. They usually put them on when the other networks are showing infomercials like a second though. How could you let the greatest tool for marketing acts slip away! What a bunch of dumbshits! MTV2 was supposed to be like the old MTV but it's now a clone of BET, while VH1 is a clone of E!. VH1 is the sister network of MTV which was to market music programming to a older audience. It seems they mention music when they are not showing reruns of the "Fabulous Life of _______" or the VH1 version of the Hollywood Insider with all those juicy tidbits that inquiring minds should know. I can't forget all of those endless shows about Puff Daddy or Paris Hilton which go on 20 hours a day. Two of the best tools for marketing and breaking acts just slipped though your fingers, give yourself a pat on the back.
I can't forget the biggest thing that killed the golden goose.......greed!
When the list price went up to $19.98 for a compact disc, shoplifting also skyrocketed since kids don't have the money to purchase them, plus George "Baby Doc" Bush's fucked up economy doesn't help make matters which brings the next part of the equation.......downloading.
I can imagine hearing this at a UMG board meeting:
Q: The peasants are revolting over the high prices oh sire, what shall we do?
A: Let 'um eat cake, Eminem want's to make his 50M so he can retire at 22.
Shania want's a mansion in Switzerland since she's quitting the business next year and she gave us five or so diamond discs so she deserves it, screw the little people.
A: Sire, there's a bunch in pirates in Sweden who want you to walk the plank.
So you have it, you have a industry trying to cater itself to a fickle generation who's tastes changes just like a Pampers on a baby. A popular artist now will be history next year while the frat boys who run the labels scratch their heads while the public downloads their crap because they overpriced the product and with this lousy economy who can afford to buy twenty dollar compact discs. Plus the advent of the iPod doesn't help matters, the new Walkman of generation Z, just stick it in your computer's USB port and dump all stuff on there your heart could stand. One young guy I work with buys his music from iTunes since he does most his listening on a iPhone that he plugs into his car stereo. Kids nowadays don't even care about the packaging, they just want the bits. If the industry was smart, they would come up with some ideas for legal music downloads instead of wallowing over illegal internet downloads. I'll drop you 3 hints:
1: where do kids hang out
2: vending machines
I have a idea.... a kiosk vending machine that you can plug in to and sell downloads.
The consumer is happy since they got the song they wanted, the company/artists got paid so everybody's happy. If somebody comes up with that idea, I deserve credit ;)
The reason why Virgin is fizzling is they are giving away catalog (loss leaders) to get the public in the shops to buy (overpriced) new releases. Since I'm not a crowd person, I'll buy my music from Amazon. No downloads for me, I like the packaging and the thrill of holding it in my hand. A bunch of low bit rate binary bits on a hard drive doesn't do it for me.
I'm a record man anyway. I love to hold a nice thick slab of wax and hear it in all of it's analog glory, there's nothing like it!
See what nicotine withdraw will do to you, 3 days and counting.