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The Way the Music Died 628

Posted by michael
from the drove-my-chevy-to-the-levy-but-the-levy-was-dry dept.
segfaultcoredump writes "Frontline just released a show entitled The Way the Music Died, an in-depth look at all that is wrong with the music industry. The show will be available for online viewing on May 29th. Their website includes the full text of all of the interviews done during the show, including a very interesting one with musical legend David Crosby, where he hits the reason the industry is having problems right on the head." Reader robl adds "This is a good sequel to the 2001 Frontline episode, The Merchants of Cool which showed how the music industry markets its wares to teenagers and how it hypes artists."
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The Way the Music Died

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  • Cut it down to 3:05. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by garcia (6573) * on Friday May 28, 2004 @10:06AM (#9276756) Homepage
    I was searching the page for quotes from people that I believe are the best ones to be asking for information. I don't see any artists on there that openly support free music. Why not? Those artists are the ones that you should be supporting... They are the ones that are comfortable enough with both themselves *and* their fanbase to believe that they can make it without having to worry about being backed solely by the money-grubbing conglomerates.

    David Crosby is a music legend known for his solo performances as well as his work with the Byrds, and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. In this interview, he recounts how the music industry has changed over his career. "When it all started, record companies -- and there were many of them, and this was a good thing -- were run by people who loved records," he says. "Now record companies are run by lawyers and accountants. ... The people who run record companies now wouldn't know a song if it flew up their nose and died." Crosby also argues that the quality of music has suffered because of corporate interference. "It doesn't matter that Britney Spears has nothing to say and is about as deep as a birdbath," he says.

    I can tell you the way the music died... It died when the musicians became the money-grubbing motherfuckers that most of them were told to become. They want to make millions of dollars and they have the conglomerates brainwash their fans into thinking that it is acceptable! Music is now a business, of course it isn't run by the people that care. Why should it? People that care don't worry as much about the money. They worry about what matters... Pleasing the people that enjoy music. Everytime you plunk your change down for iTunes, CDs, DVDs, whatever, remember that a portion of that goes not only to supporting multimedia conglomerates that control everything it also goes to supporting DRM, lawsuits against others, and lavish parties where people enjoy laughing at you for buying their shitty music.

    Music that is controlled by the conglomerates is now not created by the musicians it's created by the conglomerates. They decide what's going to be a hit and what's not. Billy Joel and his "cut it down to 3:05" bit. Do you really want to listen to music that is price-fixed, controlled, and owned by people that don't give a fuck about anything except how much Grey Goose they can drink out of ornate ice sculptures while crying about how much money they are losing because they refuse to ship as many CDs as they used to?
    • by Stargoat (658863) <stargoat@gmail.com> on Friday May 28, 2004 @10:18AM (#9276863) Journal
      The reason music is dead is very simple. There is no innovation.

      Music companies are unwilling to invest in the albums that take music to a next level. I mean, christ, the last rock opera I could find for purchase was from some nobodies in Germany who released it on some no-name label.

      In order for people to buy the music, the music has to be good. In order for something to be good, there has to be a chance of failure. I don't want to buy some market tested album with some 19 year old thin blond hick on the cover. I want good music. If The Who was able to make Tommy 30 years ago and Pink Floyd The Wall 25 years ago, why hasn't the music industry progressed? The music industry has not moved forward, it has moved backwards.

      The answer is fear of failure. If the music industry would try to put out more concept albums rather than 3 minute nothing songs, then album sales would turn around.

      • by garcia (6573) * on Friday May 28, 2004 @10:26AM (#9276934) Homepage
        In order for people to buy the music, the music has to be good.

        No, see, that's where you're wrong. The music doesn't have to be good. If you read the quotes from the people in the "article" then you would have seen first-hand that all it takes is a good body, a great video, and some money plunked down by the conglomorates to get you in.
        • by Total_Wimp (564548) on Friday May 28, 2004 @11:44AM (#9277648)
          No, the music doesn't have to be good, but that's not new. The reason most people think older music was so much better is because they don't reminise over the old stuff that happend to be crap. In 20 years, when people are playing 'oldies from the dawn of the 21st century' they'll only be playing the cream of this era and our musicians will look like geniuses too.

          Furthermore, a lot of the musicians that are used as examples of how crappy this era is aren't really as crappy as people make them out to be. I think a lot of people confuse "I don't like it" with "it's crap". They're not the same thing. Pop music has never been about high art, it's about having catchy tunes that young people like to listen to and dance to. The BackStreet Boys actually deliver on that. I'm no great fan of them, but I know their music is catchy and a lot of 14 year-old girls genuinly liked the sound. That just make them "not my taste" rather than "the death of good music."

          TW
          • by Crizp (216129) <chris@eveley.net> on Friday May 28, 2004 @12:03PM (#9277844) Homepage
            Pop music has never been about high art, it's about having catchy tunes that young people like to listen to and dance to. The BackStreet Boys actually deliver on that. I'm no great fan of them, but I know their music is catchy and a lot of 14 year-old girls genuinly liked the sound. That just make them "not my taste" rather than "the death of good music."


            Even though modern pop/boyband music follows pretty much the same recipe as yesteryear - chorus tease, verse, verse, chorus, verse/bridge, chorus chorus repeat to fade (+ small variations) - pop music from the '60s and '70s had a lot more soul!

            In the local music scene (I call the entire Norwegian country's scene "local" what with our staggering population of 4,5 million) there are the big companies spewing out the usual hit, but also a quite large number of artists with varied musical expressions getting a fair bit of mainstream attention. And the indie scene is really growing in these days of record-company hatred.

            Surely, your local town/county/country must have its fair share of white labels and small waiting-to-get-noticed bands? Support them! Go to their gigs, buy their T-shirts, spread the music to radio stations (oops... no-one will play unknown groups? get a decent station [www.nrk.no]), let people know how good they are. As a last resort, I've found locking ignorant teenager relatives/aquaintances(sp?) in my room with a 24-hour playlist of CSN&Y, Phish, Metallica, Grateful Dead, Sibelius, Strauss etc fixes the nu-metal/boyband fixation :)
          • by Gr8Apes (679165) on Friday May 28, 2004 @03:37PM (#9280073)

            Umm, got news for you - just about no one nowadays ever listens to New Kids on the Block (pre-cursors to the BackStreet Boys) and no one will care about the BBs in about another 3 years either. Just like Debbie Gibson (remember her?) or Tiffany (even hear of her?) vanished. Will the be played in the future? I'm guessing someone somewhere in 10-20 years will stroll down memory lane, go wow, haven't heard this in years, then go "crap, now I rememeber why" and won't ever do it again.

            Piles of today's music should never have seen the light of day, being more akin to a bad idol episode than anything else. What kills me is that lots of good music that was also critically acclaimed never sees the light of day anymore, unless you get a paid satellite feed, which curiously appears to lack the majority of songs plaguing the airwaves (ie, RIAA sponsored crap)

      • by DWIM (547700) on Friday May 28, 2004 @10:32AM (#9276994)
        The answer is fear of failure. If the music industry would try to put out more concept albums rather than 3 minute nothing songs, then album sales would turn around.
        I agree with what you say, but don't lay the blame entirely with the music executives. I can't tell you how many times I have seen online discussions about portable mp3 players and gapless playback and the many people who cannot fathom why that should ever be needed. I've seen people declare that the album is dead -- they want to pick and choose their songs. Fair enough, but if the music industry attempts to cater to this, then I think demand had something to say about it.
      • by dogas (312359) on Friday May 28, 2004 @10:40AM (#9277067) Homepage
        The reason music is dead is very simple. There is no innovation.

        Music is not dead. What a stupid sound bite. Music will never die. Perhaps the way the Big 5 get it to us might change.. perhaps their pricing model might change.. perhaps the Big 5 will dissolve themselves in a fit of greed. But on thing is for sure.. as long as there are humans, there will be music.

        And yes, there still is GOOD music out there, but the Big 5 is not hocking that kind of music. Indie labels are tho. If you don't like Big 5's music, then stop caring and stop complaining and go figure [epitonic.com] out [pitchforkmedia.com] what the hell you DO like.
        • by sp0rk173 (609022) on Friday May 28, 2004 @11:19AM (#9277439)
          You got it. On the head. Last night i downloaded two full length albums, legally, in ogg vobis format, for nearly half the price of what amazon was selling the CD's for. Definately worth it.

          The thing is, I think, people these days don't want to go and FIND innovation. They want it fed to them. They want to turn on the radio, tune it to whatever radio station is most convenient, and hear good, intersting, complex music. That's not going to happen, though. People's tastes are way too varied and eclectic to all enjoy the same kind of interesting music. I happen to like hardcore and klezmer/persian/greek music the best. A lot of my friends can't stand hardcore, and find the latter boring as all get-out. This is why bad music is so pervasive in our culture. It's not interesting, complex, or even musical by any means (since so much of it is canned in the case of pop superstars, or just down right simple in the case of blink 182 and all their sound alikes) because interesting and musically complex doesn't appeal to a wide audience.

          Unfortunately, though, when the indy revolution hit hard a few years ago, the "Big 5" picked that up and repackaged it under spiffy new subsidiaries to stave off the perception of a monolithic record company. Now the term "Indy" is starting to apply to a particular sound, not as whiney as emo, but just as annoying, and with the same volumetric crap content.

          If you ask me, the only answer to the music problem is a decentralized means of producing music, like ardour or, for the not-so-hungry college student, protools, and a centralized means of conveyance like CD Baby or audiolunchbox. Artists know how they want their music to sound. Record company hired slag producers do not.

          The bottom line - in this day and age you can't be lazy when it comes to music. You have to be pro-active, seek out new genres and sounds, listen, enjoy, repeat. And support organizations that are trying to break out of the recording industry's mold. Buy from independent artists, and refuse to buy from major labels. Buy from local, family owned-and-operated record stores. OK, i'm done. I gotta gets to school.



          cheese.
      • by Abjifyicious (696433) on Friday May 28, 2004 @10:46AM (#9277119)
        How about "Haunted" by Poe? Or Enigma, some of their stuff is pretty unique. Innovation is not dead, it's just not as popular with the masses as it used to be.

        But even so, what about Evanescence? They seem to have hit upon a new kind of niche by combining Sarah McLachlan type music with Linkin Park type music. It's not amazingly innovative or anything, but it's more than just another over-produced pop album...

        And this is all major label stuff. If you want some really innovative, interesting music, go check out cdbaby.com

      • Dead on (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Synn (6288) on Friday May 28, 2004 @10:49AM (#9277145)
        I'm 33 and have newphews and nieces that are 16-22. We're basically a generation apart, but the sad thing is that I listen to the exact same music they do. Do I listen to the same music my parents do? No. Why? Because the music I listen to is very different.

        But music hasn't evolved much since the 70's, so bands today sound like they did then. If it had evolved I'd hate the music my nieces and newphews like and they'd lament that I just didn't understand it.

        A new video game I bought, Battlefield Vietnam, featured select tracks from songs from the early 70's. While playing it I was shocked at how good those songs were, not because I could recognize good music when I heard it(even though it was good), but because you could drop any one of those tracks on a modern alt/rock music station and it'd sound like any other song on the radio today. Music just hasn't evolved much in the past 30 years.

        • Ummmmm (Score:5, Insightful)

          by phorm (591458) on Friday May 28, 2004 @11:04AM (#9277288) Journal
          I think it's safer to say that mainstream music hasn't evolved as much in the past 30. There are lots of new or different styles of music, it's just that unless you listen to certain stations you probably aren't going to hear them above your regular rock/alternative stuff.
      • by dTaylorSingletary (448723) on Friday May 28, 2004 @10:50AM (#9277150) Homepage
        > The reason music is dead is very simple. There is no innovation.

        You are so mistaken due to a limited listening vocabulary. There's innovative music out there but for the most part you won't find it on the major labels. You have to dig for it, but it's out there, and thus the music is not dead. It's alive and well and in many forms-- new forms, old forms made anew.

        Check out the records coming out from labels like Thrilljockey [thrilljockey.com] (Tortoise, Mouse on Mars, The Sea and Cake), Strange Attractors [htp] (Yume Bitsu, SubArachnoid Space, Kinksi, Landing, Surface of Eceyon), Constellation Records [cstrecords.com] (Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Do Make Say Think) and Elephant 6 [elephant6.com] and Cloud Recordings [cloudrecordings.com] (Olivia Tremor Control, Circulatory System, Of Montreal, Neutral Milk Hotel) -- they've been doing something different with the music in the last few years.

        The open horizons continue to be in music that could be classified as psychedelic, anything else ends up just being more of the same. The new musical horizons are best found at the point where music can make our brains do different things than we are used to.

        If you can't find music with innovation and quality then you simply aren't looking hard enough.
        • by spectrokid (660550) on Friday May 28, 2004 @11:15AM (#9277391) Homepage
          Here in Europe, it is truly heartbreaking. As I travel around, I find out how every european country has some great hits. But these are, at best, exported to a few neighbouring countries, e.g. inside scandinavia, or Germany-Austria etc. Instead, we get Bronx-rapper 'hits' shoveled down our throats with which we have absolutely NO cultural link. The chinese probably have great musicians, but if I forced you to listen to chinese music all day long... It just shows how the big labels put all their money on a few big cannons, and everything else just gets pushed aside. Listening on the net is great and all, but not everybody has time to do research and until I get ADSL in my car....
      • by real_smiff (611054) on Friday May 28, 2004 @11:00AM (#9277259)
        Can I make a small correction? There is a lack of innovation in the mainstream. In what record companies in your part of the world are trying to sell to you!

        You just have [radiochango.com] to look [plume-noire.com] a bit [pitchforkmedia.com] harder [echocloud.net] if you want to turn yourself on. (I won't link to audioscrobbler because they're having server problems atm and that would just be mean if I got modded up!). Most of my favourite music now is coming out of non-english speaking parts of the world - south america and the basque region are particularly juicy atm imho, and there's many more places producing great innovative music. speaking multiple languages is optional :) you just haven't heard any of it, most likely.. what i find incredible is if you go to these places you can buy "our" (usa/uk) music everywhere, and yet the most you get in a music store here is a pathetic little "world" section, that in no way reflects what the people there are actually listening to. why is this? are we (as a race of white caucasion middle class brits/americans) so close minded? what the %*^%& has gone wrong?! I was utterly bored with music until I discovered this. Seriously recommend others do the same. none of it would have been possible with free (in both senses) P2P networks. Right, i'm really tired and it took ages to write this but hope it inspires someone to go hunting.. listen to Cafe Tacuba, listen to Fermin Muguruza, heh well that's just where i started i dont' want to get into specific bands 'cos it's all a matter of taste but there's something for everyone with an open mind i swear :)

      • by djdavetrouble (442175) on Friday May 28, 2004 @11:07AM (#9277328) Homepage
        he said: The reason music is dead is very simple. There is no innovation.

        well, now thats where you are wrong, see. In the past 10 years I can name numerous styles of music that have developed

        nu-jazz - which is a uptempo jazzy take on danceable jazz, with some house elements thrown in

        broken beat - still uptempo, still housey, but not 4 on the floor. emphasis on super funky syncopated rhythms

        drum and bass - you never heard anything like this 20 years ago.

        Neo Soul - not so much a new style but a backlash from pop rnb, a back to basics approach with new production techniques.

        trip-hop - I was listening to hip hop, but then I got high..

        two-step aka uk garage - a very british fusion of rnb melodies, funky drum patterns and reggae sensibilites. rnb on e's

        and not to mention the whole IDM movement. Remember, many of us gave up on the majors years and years ago. That shit is for mass appeal.

        david crosby (who sounds like he is shilling for itunes) sez:
        Two different issues. Me, personally -- I didn't do this to make money. When I joined the team here, when I became a musician, there was no money to be made. We were folk singers, playing in coffeehouses. There was no money, and there never would be any money. The only people I knew who had ever even made a record was Peter, Paul and Mary, okay?

        Well, David Crosby is way way way out of touch. There are literally thousands of independent labels, eeking by on sales of 5000 - 50000 units. I am a big critic of the music industry as well, but the majors are not the only way to make a record. Master P self produced and sold albums out of the trunk of his car when he began. I know guys that will produce a track and press 500 copies on vinyl and that is IT, the project is done, no looking back lamenting its lack of position on the hot 100 chart.

        Every week I see guys piling out of a beat up van carrying their gear into continental, think they sell any records or make money, Crosby? They have a fuckload of fun though I bet.

        The majors only want artists that can break gold, but Indys will put out record after record selling only 10 - 20 k units.

        Prince said fuck them all and is now giving away his latest CD at his (sold out) concerts.
      • by Simonetta (207550) on Friday May 28, 2004 @11:43AM (#9277637)
        Music innovation is a two way street. The cultural process of making music has reached the point where the centralization of talent and distribution of recordings can no longer sustain musical culture.

        In other words, if you love music, the time has come to start learning how to make it yourself. In the 20th century, the paridigm arose that people would listen to the radio to hear what was new. The best musicians would play on the radio to get known. People would buy musical recordings that they heard on the radio and musicians would copy the musical styles and add their own improvements. People would go to hear musicians play what they heard on radio and then a little bit more. As the bands improved and surpassed the radio performers, they would record, have their recordings played on the radio, and the cycle would begin again.
        The various economic and technological developments covered in the PBS series have caused this model to fall apart.

        The 21st century solution requires more input for the music community. If you love music, you need to learn to play an instrument and get involved in the music creation process. Not to the extent of the 20th century musicians, but more than the 20th century audience.

        Start with music that you already like. Get a notation program that displays MIDI files in sheet music form and plays the notes through the sound card. It's not 'music', but that's not the point. The point is to learn about the music itself: the chords, the harmonies, the arrangements. Almost all popular songs from the past thirty years have MIDI files available on the web. It's an incredable resource, if you can use it.

        Learn a little about written music. It's always the first program cut in public schools so there is a good possiblity that you have had no exposure to it in high school if you graduated within the past ten years. If you can learn C++, you can learn anything. Learning to read music is one path to independence from the RIAA, so it is worth the time and effort. Again the music notation programs like MIDISOFT studio v4.0 that play MIDI files are a big help.

        Get instruments that match the ones used on your favorite recordings. Ebay is a great source. For example, you can now buy the same synthesizers used for 70s,80s, and 90s music at a tiny fraction of the original retail music store prices. Often you can buy a synthesizer or tone module (a synth without a keyboard that plays through the computer's MIDI port on the joystick connector) for $80, use it for several months, and resell it on Ebay for a different type for the same price that youo paid for it. You get a long term rental of a complicated musical instrument for the cost of shipping it to you from the previous owner. Sometimes you can get the instruments directly from the musicians who make the original pop hits and have been driven into bankruptcy after they pissed away their advance on SUVs, partys, and entourages.

        You can also get schematics of many of the stomp box guitar effects on the web, including all those used to make the classical rock songs of the 60s and 70s. You can get files that explain note by note how to play the great guitar solos from that period as well. Beatles, Stones, Pink Floyd, Zeppelin, Santana, ect... All the great classic rock songs have been documented and are on-line. It doesn't matter if you don't really like the original music, it matters that you are learning to be a musician and as such you are breaking the deep psycological bonds that tie you to RIAA product.

        Then you can start creating your own music and start trading it on specialized sites (such as the Yahoo Groups dedicated to a particular instrument or band). You can collaborate with other people engaged in the same process and who are at the same point as you. If you're stuck you can get help from others.

        All this is completely beneath the radar of the RIAA, but will go a long way to meet your basic human need for music without being a passive disgrunted endless consumer of RIAA product.

        Anyway it is a real alternative to the RIAA.

    • I can tell you the way the music died... It died when the musicians became the money-grubbing motherfuckers that most of them were told to become. They want to make millions of dollars and they have the conglomerates brainwash their fans into thinking that it is acceptable!


      I don't know about all that... I think there's certainly some musicians that became money-grubbing scum, the problem is the music industry latched onto the ones that did what they told them. I put the blame for the decline of music
    • by funkyjunkman (721687) on Friday May 28, 2004 @11:11AM (#9277360)
      I can tell you the way the music died... It died when the musicians became the money-grubbing motherfuckers that most of them were told to become.

      And sports died when athletes started to get million dollar contracts

      And movies died when actors started to get million dollar contracts

      And television died (was it alive?) when actors started to get million dollar contracts

      And literature died when writers started to get million dollar advances

      And... you get the picture

      I'm tired of your whine. Adapt or die, this is called progress. I'll admit, I work in the music business as recording engineer and I am getting out because it just wasn't the business it was 17 years ago when I started. But I can tell you music does not need to be free in order for an artist to be sincere in his art. On the contrary, what you suggest would actually kill the music business.

      The point you seem to miss, that David Crosby so ineptly tried to make, is that the record companies of yore existed to make money off of musicians because musicians weren't savvy enough to both make good music and pay their rent. It's just that simple. The musicians needed a good record company and the record companies needed good musicians. But the industry has grown into a very large and powerful congolomerate. And as we know, when a company has to think about it's shareholders first people tend to get greedy.

      Can I say it again? I am so tired of non-musicians saying that musicians are millionaires and musicians that aren't shouldn't care about money
  • The Answer (Score:4, Insightful)

    by JaffaKREE (766802) on Friday May 28, 2004 @10:14AM (#9276809)
    Treat ALL your customers like criminals = You fail.
    • Re:The Answer (Score:5, Insightful)

      by JawFunk (722169) on Friday May 28, 2004 @10:35AM (#9277018)
      Treat ALL your customers like criminals = You fail.

      More like: make all your clients criminals = You fail

      All the hype these days is about dumbfucks like lil' jon being promoted for a period of time, only to be swept off the top ten list sometime later. They have no fan base. Once they're back where they started, noone will care. BTW, anyone remember Ja Rule?

  • A two parter (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Peter Cooper (660482) on Friday May 28, 2004 @10:15AM (#9276825) Homepage Journal
    Music is magic. It's been mankind's magic since the first caveman danced around his fire going "Ugga bugga, hugga bugga!" That was music, and he was happy. And we're still doing it, and it makes us happy.

    I think he means European dance music is still doing that ;-)

    iTunes is a good idea. It delivers the music to you cheap, pays us, doesn't cheat anybody, and it cuts out all middlemen -- very good

    I don't think so, Mr. Crosby! Cuts out all middlemen? The RIAA are still there taking their fat chunk. The artists get a tiny chunk. Of course, if you're smart enough to release tracks directly to Apple (like Ben Folds has been doing lately), then you can get a lot more.. but most RIAA-promoted artists can't do this.
    • Re:A two parter (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Ubergrendle (531719) on Friday May 28, 2004 @10:27AM (#9276948) Journal
      Canada's version of MTV, Much Music, at least started out as a more independently-flavoured enterprise: shows like The New Music would track musical trends at the grass roots and give alot of air time to genre-specific or non-major label signed bands.

      They broadcast a concert with Neil Young in their studio a few years ago...they talked about this song "This Note's for You" (take off on This Bud's For You), then asked him how he felt about Bob Dylan licensing one of his songs to a Canadian bank. His response was so blunt I still remember it clearly.

      (paraphrasing a bit)"Well, I thought it was pretty obvious. We lost that one. Like, the whole war. We're all commercials now. And I can't see a way to change it back."
    • Re:A two parter (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Mikkeles (698461) on Friday May 28, 2004 @11:14AM (#9277384)
      'I don't think so, Mr. Crosby! Cuts out all middlemen? The RIAA are still there taking their fat chunk. The artists get a tiny chunk. Of course, if you're smart enough to release tracks directly to Apple...but most RIAA-promoted artists can't do this.'

      While you are correct, direct to internet is very much still in its infancy. As more artists, especially those who aren't cute, move to this, the RIAA (affiliated record companies) will become less and less important. The hard part will be identifying and finding the musicians which interest you! That is: a good indexing system is required.

  • by KaiBeezy (618237) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (yzeebiak)> on Friday May 28, 2004 @10:16AM (#9276831)
    The music "industry" is a temporary phenomenon brought about by the original expense and difficulty of fabricating and distributing recorded music. As this expense drops to zero, we *should* go back to the way things used to be - professional musicians making a modest income providing live entertainment for live audiences. Unfortunately, people don't go out that much anymore (except to the mall) but electronic distribution can compensate. The music industry is dead; long live the music profession!
  • Good article (Score:5, Insightful)

    by aznxk3vi17 (465030) on Friday May 28, 2004 @10:16AM (#9276838)
    I was always wondering when somebody respectable and intelligent would note what the majority of America can't see: music today is CRAP. I don't care what my friends tell me, or what the TV tells me, there's no way around it. You don't get the studio mastery of the Beatles, nor do you get the sheer energy and excitement of Zeppelin.
    • Re:Good article (Score:4, Interesting)

      by skaffen42 (579313) on Friday May 28, 2004 @10:31AM (#9276989)
      Yep. Most of the "artists" out there today owe more to their producers and marketing agents than to their talent. Oh, and their looks. Being blond with big knockers is a sure fire road to stardom.

      I always find it interesting to watch the groups that perform on SNL. Most of them sound like losing entries for American Idol. The only exception I've seen so far was U2. Damn, there is some real talent there. And I say that even though I don't even like them much...

      • Re:Good article (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Skinny Rav (181822) on Friday May 28, 2004 @11:04AM (#9277295)
        Yep. Most of the "artists" out there today owe more to their producers and marketing agents than to their talent. Oh, and their looks. Being blond with big knockers is a sure fire road to stardom.


        Well, parent in this thread gave The Beatles as an example, so I'll do the same and give you two names: George Martin and Brian Eppstein. Without them there would have been no The Beatles. Without Martin's guidance, which helped Fab Four's talent a lot, and without Eppstein's tricks, without fancy suits and hairdos, which gave them some publicity and drew attention. Hell, "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" was even called by newspapers "George Martin's best album" ;-)

        There are hundreds of good musicians out there - some of them are good enough to create something great out of themselves, but many need some help, some guidance. And if they want to reach further than local pub they definitely need some marketing - even if it is just a page on one of many independent music portals.

        Raf
        • Re:Good article (Score:5, Insightful)

          by CommieOverlord (234015) on Friday May 28, 2004 @11:25AM (#9277474)
          but many need some help, some guidance.

          There's probably a world of difference between guidance and the "assistance" groups like Nsync get.

          Having all your songs written for you, doing everything the way the producer/engineer/director/marketer during every step of your brief career is not guidance.

          That's different than a producer going "album sounds good guys, but what if you lay of the kazoo just a bit in that second song?"
    • Re:Good article (Score:3, Informative)

      by (trb001) (224998)
      99% true, but that 1% is worth it.

      Check out Andrew W.K. next time he comes to town (coincidentally, he's coming to the 9:30 club in D.C. tonight, and I'm going to be out of town). He has the most energetic performance I've ever seen. He was on DC101 this morning talking and openly said (paraphrased) "I have some stuff that's been released overseas only, but with the wonders of the Internet you can find it. Please, download any of my stuff you want, you have my blessing." His live shows just rock, peopl
    • Re:Good article (Score:4, Informative)

      by wass (72082) on Friday May 28, 2004 @11:06AM (#9277315)
      music today is CRAP. I don't care what my friends tell me, or what the TV tells me, there's no way around it.

      Dude, get the hell out of your house and go to some live music clubs. It seems like you are limiting your definition of music to what you listen to on the big commercial radio stations.

      Music definitely isn't dead, there's tons and tons of bands playing around in damn near any style you can think of. Sure, many of these bands suck, but a good number are quite talented and really rock! Go to some of your local music clubs (try smaller venues w/ like 100-200 person capacity). There's probably several local bands that you might like right under your nose that you weren't aware of. Or catch some touring bands when they come through your neck of the woods.

      There's TONS of innovation and musical talent now, just as much as ever. You have to know where to go look for it (hint - not on top-20 radio stations or in Sam Goody or whatever crappy music chain is in your nearby mall).

  • Personally, (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Biotech9 (704202) on Friday May 28, 2004 @10:16AM (#9276845) Homepage
    I see two types of music industry, one marketing orientated type (MTV basically) that panders to people that don't actually like music. (they just like the imagery and style associated with thier particular flavour of pop, the 'Hip hop' guys like eminem, the 'punk' girls like pink etc).

    The other type is that real music industry, where bands aren't marketed as a way of life. What is an Aphex Twin fan like? What kind of clothes should i wear if i like Amon Tobin or Sabres of paradise?

    Seeing as I am firmly in the second group, I don't care very much what happens to the MTV industry. They never got any of my money, and they probably never will.

    just my 2 centi-'S
    • Re:Personally, (Score:4, Insightful)

      by bloosqr (33593) on Friday May 28, 2004 @10:33AM (#9276999) Homepage
      You are less cynical than I then, Aphex Twin was hugely promoted from the very beginning. CMJ, SXSW, college radio have a huge interest in promoting certain "alterna" bands and its the same marketing machine that brought you the really annoying "all good music got started at CBGB's VH1 love fests (aka blondie, talking heads, ramones etc" In fact you may have noticed aphex will show as background music in a lot of MTV slots (aka real world). Similarly in this day and age autechre, fischer spooner ladytron miss kitten all get the appropriate plugs in all the right places (and the MTV background slots) w/out any clear channel play. You may not be wearing phat raver tennis shoes but i'm sure you'll buy another "26 mixes for cash" :)

    • Re:Personally, (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Tom Courtenay (638139)
      What is an Aphex Twin fan like? What kind of clothes should i wear if i like Amon Tobin or Sabres of paradise?

      Aphex Twin fans are usually balding skinny white guys. Strangely I've never seen a Sabres of Paradise fan...(rimshot)

      The fact is that all music is marketed in some way, and it usually involves an image. Whether or not this image is pushed by the label, the media or the band makes no difference. Take a look at the way bands like Modest Mouse & Mogwai are pushed: Beer-swilling maniacs. Li
  • Recording (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Capt'n Hector (650760) on Friday May 28, 2004 @10:17AM (#9276853)
    That's right, I hate to say it, but recording killed music as it existed. Now, we have 2-3 minute soundbites that are played over and over in replication on thousands of cd players and computers. Gone are the complexities of performance. We've abandoned a culture of performers for a culture of listners.
    • Re:Recording (Score:3, Interesting)

      by HolyCoitus (658601)
      I agree with you on this, although not completely. I've taken to finding bands (Grateful Dead mainly) that allow for their music to be recorded. You can listen to the same songs from slightly different perspectives while still having other things be at the forefront of your thoughts. It's not as good as being there, but it's definitely better than listening to the same thing over and over.

      It makes you wonder, why doesn't the industry decide to make things interesting and press CDs of all the differen
    • Re:Recording (Score:5, Insightful)

      by cagle_.25 (715952) on Friday May 28, 2004 @10:27AM (#9276953) Journal
      I totally agree. What's interesting is my students, who are reluctant to sing in public (and when they do, they try to imitate the grunge band sound). They know that they don't sound like what they hear, so they shut up. What they don't know is that the voices on CD don't sound like that, either, until they get chorused, reverbed, EQed, and pitch-fixed.
      • Re:Recording (Score:4, Interesting)

        by makohund (10086) on Friday May 28, 2004 @01:17PM (#9278625)
        Excellent point.

        Since they are your students, you have the opportunity to inform them of that. Maybe give a class on all of the wizardry that makes what they hear... so different from the reality.

        I've got recordings of Metallica raw material... their own demos and scratch tracks. They aren't hard to find. (Stuff like that for other artists may be.) The difference between those and the final mastered studio recording is a fascinating contrast for those that have never done any recording. :)

  • by dogas (312359) on Friday May 28, 2004 @10:19AM (#9276874) Homepage
    Most everyone I talk to thinks that top 40 music on the radio sucks. I happen to agree (except for 50 cent, haha)

    I think I'm one of the few lucky enough to have lived by and grown up with an excellent college music station [wprb.com]. Through their various shows and DJs, I've been able to find out what type(s) of music I'm really into, rather than having the Big 5 tell me what I like.

    The moral of the story is that if you dig a little deeper than what's on the surface, you can find the real gold. I believe Indie bands always prove to have much more talent and creativity than the producer-molded garbage you hear on top 40 stations.

    That said, Epitonic [epitonic.com] is a great site to listen to cool songs and figure out how to break away from that mainstream cycle.
  • by Darth Muffin (781947) on Friday May 28, 2004 @10:19AM (#9276875) Homepage
    I saw most of this show on TV last night. I found it interesting that they did NOT mention the Internet or P2P file sharing as a cause for poor music sales. Instead I think they nailed it when they said - More lax regulations on radio station ownership is to blame. Now that everything is Clearchannel, you can only play what they want. Artists used to get their big break by a local station playing their music. - Video is also to blame. You can't just sing any more, you have to look good too. They used Brittney Spears as a prime example--nice to look at but can't sing her way out of a paper bag.
  • Music won't die (Score:5, Insightful)

    by armando_wall (714879) on Friday May 28, 2004 @10:20AM (#9276882) Homepage

    Music will always live.

    What is dying is the way big record companies make business (I know.. it's not disappeating any time soon, but anyways, it's dying slowly).

    But around the world there will always be people willing to make music, perform music and freely share music.

  • by scottennis (225462) on Friday May 28, 2004 @10:21AM (#9276886) Homepage
    We've known since the early 80s that video killed the radio star.
  • Heartbreaking.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by erick99 (743982) * <homerun@gmail.com> on Friday May 28, 2004 @10:22AM (#9276896)
    The interview with Crosby is just heartbreaking because you know what he is saying is true. You are not going to find anything at the store other than what WalMart or BestBuy thinks will be a hit with teenagers. I wonder how much great music is out there languishing like it wouldn't have 20 or 30 years ago?

    I suspect that there will be a "sea change" in the music industry as well as big paradigm shift. Things do tend to find their way even through the tumbles to the extreme. In the meantime, I'm glad I'm 46 because I grew up when great music, by and large, made it to the radio (yeah,yeah, I know, I'm a cranky old fart).

    Keep smiling!

    Erick

    • Re:Heartbreaking.... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by GeckoX (259575) on Friday May 28, 2004 @11:16AM (#9277404)
      It's interesting because I've always concidered myself to be lucky for growing up when I did.

      Having been born in 1975, I began listening to the radio in the early eighties...solidified my hatred of the modern music industry right there. (The glam rock seriously offended me for some reason ;)

      I very quickly began listening exclusively to the music my parents listened to, Zeppelin, Cream, CSNY, Santana, all the good shit.

      Once I got through all of the old stuff and began craving new music, I already knew not to bother turning to the radio as that would be useless.
      So, I turned to the underground. College radio, sharing tapes with friends, or even better, older brothers of friends etc etc, and playing my own music.

      I really think I have to thank the (commercial) music industry and commercial radio for forming my sensible view on music...I didn't have to be told that they suck, they showed me quite well themselves!
  • Three thoughts (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cagle_.25 (715952) on Friday May 28, 2004 @10:22AM (#9276902) Journal
    1) I am encouraged by the amount and quality of home-recording equipment around these days. For $500 or less you can get decent microphones, and for another $500 you can get decent editing and processing software which surpasses last decade's state-of-the-art. To my mind, this gives me as a musician a whole lot of freedom to make music the way I want to.

    2) However, I couldn't make a living like that, unless I were to be picked up by someone. And the point of the Frontline show is that the "someones" willing to pick up new artists are diminishing in number. In the long run, I believe that the problem will be solved by a shift in the market; after all, musicians receiving patronage has a long and glorious tradition.

    3) But, in the short run, the situation stinks. What is interesting here is that we have gotten exactly what we wanted, so to speak. Music marketers discovered what types of music people were willing to pay for. The majority of us said "Yes" to 3 minute singles with catchy choruses repeated ad nauseum, sung on video by sexy-looking stars, and we said "No" to 20 minute explorations created by groups like Yes, Kansas, or Rush. Which raises an interesting point: if majority rule and utilitarian thought produces such obvious garbage in the music realm, what garbage can it produce in other areas ... like government, or ethics?

    /ramble
  • Finally... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cstream_chris (776009) on Friday May 28, 2004 @10:24AM (#9276910)
    Finally a post where I can do some blatant self-promotion of a music site I've been working on. It's called cStream
    http://www.cstream.com [cstream.com]

    Unlike most sites, we don't charge artists to post their music (i.e. like music.download.com, soundclick.com etc...) and we provide them with unlimited storage for their music. We don't believe in DRM, all our files are distributed as MP3s. After all DRM is not really effective if you can Buy. Rip. Burn MP3 from any music store with DRM (Buymusic, iTunes etc..). Thus DRM is a really weak level of protection for music.

    We've only been open for a couple of months but already have a few hundred songs. We try to sell artists music and give them 50% of the revenue. Our problem is that because our music is independent music generally no one has heard it before. Because we only give away 30 seconds of the song in high quality our sales are fairly low.

    We've been thinking about switching our model to providing full length lower quality copies of a song with the ability to purchase high quality versions of the song.
    • A Suggestion (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Ryosen (234440)
      An interesting site and one I'm sure that I will be visiting (and purchasing from) often.

      As for the samples, 30 seconds are nice (60 are better) but one thing that has caused me to buy a TON of music is radio streams. Some sites have set up various genre-themed channels where they play the music that they sell. You get to hear the entire song, hear other music that you might not have thought of sampling, and all of the track info is carried with the stream.
    • Re:Finally... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by schon (31600) on Friday May 28, 2004 @10:54AM (#9277205)
      Our problem is that because our music is independent music generally no one has heard it before. Because we only give away 30 seconds of the song in high quality our sales are fairly low.

      Here's the problem.

      When I go looking for stuff, I wanna hear the whole song - doesn't matter if the quality sucks, but if I'm gonna buy it, I wanna hear more than a couple of riffs.

      Instead of (or perhaps in addition to) high-quality 30-second bits, put out low-quality full-length songs (56K mono should be good enough quality that the listener can enjoy the song without being distracted by compression artifacts.)

      Second - most people who are passionate about the music they like will want to get other people to listen to it. Encourage (with the artists' permission) people to share these low-quality files - put your site in the ID3 tags, and encourage listeners to share them on their favourite P2P site, or deep-link from their own website/blog (provide deep-linking instructions, for example.)

      Third - (much more work that the other two :o) try to develop into some sort of social network; maybe in addition to simply listing by genre, allow people to 'rate' songs (a simple 'like' or 'dislike'), and use this to create recommended songlists (by listing songs that people who have similar tastes have rated 'like'.)
  • by mackermacker (250587) on Friday May 28, 2004 @10:27AM (#9276954) Homepage
    You have to hand it to the RIAA, they have their *own unique way of pricing cd's. as they state:

    One 1987 Washington Post article reported that record executives believed that the price of a CD would eventually settle around $10.

    Twenty years later, production costs have come down, but consumers are still complaining about the cost of CDs, which now are priced at upwards of $16. The industry's main lobbying arm, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), responds that prices have come down. According to an article [riaa.com]published on the RIAA's Web site, "Between 1983 and 1996, the average price of a CD fell by more than 40%. Over this same period of time, consumer prices ... rose nearly 60%. If CD prices had risen at the same rate as consumer prices over this period, the average retail price of a CD in 1996 would have been $33.86 instead of $12.75."

    Anyone who has burned a CD on his computer for less than a dollar may still wonder why a product that is so cheap to manufacture could cost so much. The answer is that while the cost of physically producing a CD has dropped dramatically over two decades, the costs of marketing that album have grown tremendously. For example, in the early 1980s, music videos were an optional route for the industry to promote their artists. Now labels are expected to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars producing music videos for all of their major artists. Even marketing a major album to radio can costs hundreds of thousands of dollars. And if an album is unlikely to get on radio or MTV, some labels have decided to launch costly television advertising campaigns to gain exposure for their artists.

    However, the price of a CD isn't just paying for expensive marketing campaigns; it's also subsidizing releases by other artists that will never sell enough to make a profit. An artist at a major label may need to sell more than a million units before the venture ends up in the black. Most albums never sell anywhere near that. According to the RIAA, only 10 percent of albums ever achieve profitability.

    • I had always figured that this was true. When you purchase a CD you really aren't promoting the artist, but rather the label instead. I'm not sure if someone could actually create an accurante pie chart that shows how the money paid for a CD gets divied up among everyone. My thoughts would be the majority will go to the labels that in turn that use that for other artists, marketing, and i'm sure video production for said artis or other artist to promote. From whatever is remaining it will eventaully get
      • When you purchase a CD you really aren't promoting the artist, but rather the label instead.


        For a very good example of this, you only have to look at Richard Branson and the Virgin group. Until the release of Tubular Bells (Virgin 1), Virgin just ran a few small record shops. It was the sucess Tubular Bells that made Richard Branson and launched the Virgin Group.
      • by cdrguru (88047) on Friday May 28, 2004 @11:04AM (#9277300) Homepage
        You misunderstand the point. It isn't that you are "promoting the label" but what you are supporting is the "culture of risk".

        What this means is that it is the business of recording companies to engage in somewhat risky behavior - they bring in artists that may become a big hit and sponsor them. It doesn't always work out that way, but enough do that it covers the costs for everything they do.

        This is essentially how a venture capital fund works as well - not everything may be a hit, but enough works out that it keeps everything going.

        This does mean that there are a lot of expenses going through the system that need to be paid for. So, the one "hit" that they get pays for the other 9 that didn't quite make it but a lot of promotion was done for.

        One big problem today is that such strategies aren't very well thought of. The executives are looking at this in a more risk-adverse way and this leads to not wanting to take chances. So, we have endless copies of things that have been a hit with the hope that this is less risky and more of a sure thing. This sort of thinking almost always leads to failure, and I think there are precedents for saying so.

    • Lies... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 28, 2004 @10:57AM (#9277228)
      Now labels are expected to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars producing music videos for all of their major artists.

      Really? Everybody I know says the artist pays for the music videos - the labels simply front them the money.
  • by iamcf13 (736250) on Friday May 28, 2004 @10:28AM (#9276961) Homepage Journal
    Until music is considered and treated as an artform first and foremost, the commercial music industry will remain permanently broken as their priorities are transposed.

    The early masters like Mozart and Beethoven were supported/sponsored by patrons thus freeing them to indulge their creativity and create truly legendary music that has outlasted their mortal lives and should last long after the members of commercial music industry sponsored music acts meet a similar fate....
  • Music wont die (Score:5, Informative)

    by WormholeFiend (674934) on Friday May 28, 2004 @10:30AM (#9276975)
    If the big music conglomerates die, people will still continue to make music...

    There's a lot of talented musicians and bands out there. Maybe they only play in bars and small venues; maybe they still have a day job; maybe you have to make a special detour to that out-of-the-way independent record store to find their records.

    We can all live without music conglomerates and their lipsynching puppets.
  • by MtViewGuy (197597) on Friday May 28, 2004 @10:34AM (#9277010)
    I think the biggest problem with the music industry comes down to this: they are charging WAY too much for a single album-length Compact Disc.

    At US$18 per disc, no wonder why music sales are down--people can't afford them! It's also created the financial incentive to try to get around these high prices, hence the rise of P2P sites. This is a classic case of an economic cartel that is being undermined. Also, for just a little bit more money you can buy a DVD movie, many of which not only have the movie but also additional featurettes out of the wazoo. Think about it: you can get the Extended Edition of the first two Lord of the Rings movies for around US$28 to US$30 at most retailers; it has so much stuff on four DVD's it would take you weeks to browse it all.

    If the RIAA would just allow their member companies to price their CD's at US$11.95 per album-length CD the incentive to pirate music would drop drastically.
    • No, that isn't the classic case of a cartel being undermined. The classic of a cartel being undermined is when one member realizes that if it cuts its price to below the artificial price created by the cartel, then it can screw the other members of the cartel by sucking all the business away from them.

      That's why cartels are typically so short-lived. Greed convinces one party that they can make more (short-term) by screwing their partners than abiding by the agreements of the members.
  • Anyone notice... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Beatbyte (163694) on Friday May 28, 2004 @10:40AM (#9277056) Homepage
    that everyone is posting :

    "the one reason the music industry died is . period." ??

    and ALL of them are different reasons?

    maybe its a combination of shitty music, greedy record companies, greedy musicians, drugs, cmdrtaco, drm, napster, filesharing in its many forms, mtv, britney spears, lack of innovation, disney, lawyers, riaa, ....

    get the point? there's no 1 reason the recording industry is in the current state that it is.

    and think about this...
    Recording... INDUSTRY...

    one more time...
    Recording... INDUSTRY...

    notice that second word:
    INDUSTRY

    They operate like a business would because they are a business and their main purpose is to make money. They may do it the sleazy way but hey thats BUSINESS.

    Besides, there are plenty of indie bands (the mindset, not the genre) that work their ass off and distribute their own music and such. You just have to look harder because all that is advertised is the hot product from the Recording INDUSTRY.

    Hey theres that word again...

    rant over.. sorry for the caffeine overdose :-D
  • The reasons why (Score:5, Informative)

    by Synn (6288) on Friday May 28, 2004 @10:41AM (#9277080)
    It was a good show, the reasons they listed why the music industry is in such trouble:

    CD sales in the 80's caused a massive boom in the industry because everyone was replacing their older records. This caused major industry corps to come in and gobble everyone up, because they wanted in on the action.

    But the new corp culture revolved around quarterly reports and set schedules. So musicians are pressured to produce on a schedule to meet profit quotas. This doesn't make for good music.

    MTV also changed the face of music. If you can get on MTV you get massive exposure. The problem with MTV though is that it's about image as much as it is about the music. So we end up with pop stars like Britney Spears who's pretty to look at but sounds like drek.

    Clear Channel now owns a significant amount of radio stations and they will only accept so many new songs in a week. Record people now look for a "sellable" song that the stations will play(basically something just like they're playing already) because you want that mass exposure to hook people into buying your album. It's not about good music, it's about having a hit single.

  • by Ruprecht the Monkeyb (680597) * on Friday May 28, 2004 @10:44AM (#9277099)
    From the David Crosby interview:

    That's not a good thing, because it means that anybody that looks good in a well-shot video is suddenly at the top, whereas hugely talented people, who are great musicians, can barely get arrested.

    Don't sell yourself short, David. You are hugely talented, and have no trouble getting arrested.
  • So.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Quixote (154172) on Friday May 28, 2004 @10:46AM (#9277118) Homepage Journal
    So what's preventing some of the big names (like Crosby) who "get it" from starting an iTunes-like service where they cut out the middlemen, and give 80% of the proceeds to fellow (up and coming) musicians?
  • by dirk (87083) <dirk@one.net> on Friday May 28, 2004 @10:47AM (#9277127) Homepage
    I see a lot of posts saying the music industry is dying because today's music sucks and has no innovation. But if you actually look at history, that has always been the case. What has been the most popular has always been fairly tame, shallow music. The "good stuff" that is always remembered is rarely on the top of the charts. Go back and look at the actual music charts for the 60s, 70s and 80s. You'll find a huge amount of crap (in fact it is almost exclusively crap). That is because the most popular music is almost always easily digested pop songs. Today is no different. The most popular music is simple, easily digested, and easily forgettable, just like the "great music days" of whatever decade you want to pick. Today's music isn't any worse than yesterdays music, we just remember the good stuff from yesterday and see the crap of today.
    • by argent (18001) <peter AT slashdo ... taronga DOT com> on Friday May 28, 2004 @11:23AM (#9277464) Homepage Journal
      It's not just "a lot of posts" saying this. It's the musicians, too.

      Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young! Any record company right now. [throat slashing noise] "Sorry, these guys are too weird, and that's too inflammatory, too political." That's the truth. We wouldn't get a contract.

      In the '60s and '70s I'd go to the record store, and there would be the top 10 charts. Half a dozen of them, one for each radio station close enough some of the the punters could pick one up, and they were all different. Today, what have you got? MTV/VH1 and Clear Channel, across the whole USA. And unless you're in LA or Nashville, none of them are local. You know what's going on in New York, but you have no idea who's in your own town.

      In the '60s or '70s, unless you were listening to a top-40 station you'd hear a lot more than the "charts", you'd hear local music, you'd hear stuff the DJ liked, if you didn't like the DJ you could change stations and get an actual different mix, instead of a different spot in the Clear Channel Song Cycle.

      So you can't just look at what was on the *charts* in 1968 or 1975, because it wasn't like now when looking at the charts tells you basically what you're going to listen to.
  • The music sucks (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Daimaou (97573) on Friday May 28, 2004 @10:52AM (#9277169)
    I look at the "popular" music today and can't help but think, don't any of these bands actually know how to play their instruments anymore? Where's the talent.

    It is at this point that I recall Ringo Star and bands like The Monkeys. Perhaps it has always been this way.

    But, then I remember the musical genius of bands like Yes, ELP, Rush, etc., and think to myself, where are bands like that today? I guess there are some, but you never hear them on the radio.
  • Fun thing to do (Score:4, Insightful)

    by British (51765) <british1500@gmail.com> on Friday May 28, 2004 @10:54AM (#9277200) Homepage Journal
    1. Buy technics turntable + phono amp
    2. Go to used record store and buy albums with oh-so-80s lookng covers
    3. (optonal) rip to MP3
    4. Enjoy music that has been forgotten and never ripped to cd.

    I never paid more than $4 for a record, being exposed to all sorts of music I've never even heard of before! Mind you, it's all 80s, but it's good!
  • My favorite quote... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by clichekiller (665320) on Friday May 28, 2004 @10:59AM (#9277248)
    Now they're going in the tank, because the world has changed, and they did not change with it. They bit the poison pill, without realizing it, when they went digital. Once a thing is in digital domain, it can be copied as many times as you want. And there is no system that can keep it from being copied. You can devise the most clever one you want, and I will bring some little geek with a pen protector in his pocket into the room and he will fix it in a minute. ...


    They bit the poison pill, and it's killing them. And I think what's killing them really, is that they have a bad business model that doesn't coincide with reality.
    I think this says it all. They are trying to hold onto a business model that no longer works and they're using the government to do so. I don't personally agree with their practices I think they stink. They are pushing an antiquated system that requires their customers to either pay through the nose or become thieves. Make something prohibitively expensive, and I'm sorry $16.00 for an album that has at most of late one or two songs I like on it is prohibitively expensive, and you're pushing your customers to seek alternatives. I like iTunes, I can buy the one or two songs I want. And if there is an album that belongs together, say some of Rush's albums, I can buy them as a whole if I want to.

    The truth is that as long as the RIAA can make the fistfuls of money they will continue to do so because they are a business. As soon as that business model become unfeasible, for them, not us, they will switch and find alternatives. Even with the piracy and decline in music purchasing they are still raking it in. There are too many 12 yr olds with disposable income that simply must have that latest Britney, NSync, or Avril album and will get it.

    I also liked his comment that VH1 and MTV have unwittingly made music more about look and feel then about music. Most of my music dates back to before the 90's, with some notable exceptions.
  • Press comments (Score:5, Informative)

    by sjonke (457707) * on Friday May 28, 2004 @11:05AM (#9277308) Journal
    To PBS' credit that they are posting what the press is saying about the show [pbs.org], even though most of it is quite negative.
  • by Sloppy (14984) * on Friday May 28, 2004 @11:30AM (#9277523) Homepage Journal
    This show was all about the mainstream business. It wasn't about music. Even the singer that they tried to show as being the less successful one (the one with the cheezy, "I'm a girl on the verge of a nervous breakdown" -- oh crap, why do I remember that? Fucking virus.) was totally commercial.

    Go to your local bars at about 9pm-11pm (and today is Friday -- Friday is great for this) and see some bands. (Obviously, not all bars have live music, so ask around if you don't know.) Some of them are pretty lame, but overall, they tend to be better than you'd expect, if you haven't done it before. They're almost always better than radio stuff.

    Are they dying? I don't think so. Attendence does vary (at least here in ABQ). Sometimes a show will get flyered and well-publicized and there will be a couple hundred people there and the fire marshall will make the bar turn people away. And sometimes on a Tuesday night, once you exclude the band members and their girlfriends and the bartender, you'll see there's only three extra people there to drink and see the band. Most the time, it's somewhere in between.

    Most of them are not making money, and they know it. They're doing it for fun. I've seen a few bands come and go, and the breakups seem to never be about, "Well, our marketing just wasn't successful." When I ask 'em why they broke up, it tends to be about the personal relationships. I get answers like, "Because Heather [the guitarist] has her head up her ass!" Okaaay.

    There's a lot of variety (at least in my town). I still have just barely scratched the surface. I tend to just concentrate on one genre (metal) but even I sometimes get distracted. There's this one band I saw, that at first thought was a Rolling Stones tribute band. Then I realized the songs were original, so I decided they were a Rolling Stones parody. I snickered with amusement. Then I realized they were serious. About the third time I saw them, the true horror of the situation dawned on me: I was starting to get into 'em. D'oh! ;-)

    Music will always be around, because some people enjoy making music and they don't care if they make money at it. They would like to, sure, but they have their day jobs. You can't kill something like that. It can be defeated in a market, but that doesn't really stop it. Just ask Microsoft about GNU/Linux developers...

  • KCRW (Score:5, Informative)

    by StarWynd (751816) on Friday May 28, 2004 @12:21PM (#9277999)
    Anyone who's tired of overhyped, overplayed cookie cutter music should try listening [kcrwmusic.org] to KCRW [kcrw.org]. Even though they are an NPR affliate, you'd only know it because of the news at the top of the hour. They play many different kinds of music and things you probably haven't heard. There are so many new artists to discover and new music to hear, and KCRW is one of the few places where you can do just that. It's good music.
  • by garyebickford (222422) <gar37bic AT gmail DOT com> on Friday May 28, 2004 @12:26PM (#9278045)
    It's interesting that the complaints people are voicing here - corporate control, "only the shallow survive" artists, etc. are echoes of the complaints that were happening in the late 1950's and early 1960's, when a relative few record companies controlled most pop music. "Tin Pan Alley" in NYC spewed out buckets of pablum for the masses. FM radio was nothing but classical music, and the industry owned AM radio.

    A relative few independent souls (on the west coast) listened to Wolfman Jack after midnight on XERB, a 50,000 watt station out of Tijuana - the equivalent of a pirate radio station - and/or black stations playing R&B, Soul, etc. As late as 1965 or thereabout I saw James Brown in a club that held a total of under 100 people, packed to the gills - I was the only white guy in there.

    When the new stereo FM standard came out, a pioneering group of music lovers started pure music-oriented stations playing the acid rock, blues, etc. Often they were, like 100 watt stations that couldn't be heard more than a few miles away. They were the original venue for the whole San Francisco music scene - Airplane, the Dead, the Byrds, Charlie Musselwhite, the Blues Project, Buffalo Springfield, etc. Some of these bands also had AM radio play but many of these bands were never heard outside these independent stations. Without those stations, it's quite possible these bands would never have made it to the 'big time'. Many of these bands never got a big record deal, but made their money touring.

    Their success encouraged new business-oriented folks, who invested in automated playing systems (new at the time), and combined the new "Rock" format with tech efficiency, leading to the modern "classic rock" format. And now, here we are, back where we were back then. This time, the FCC has worked to effectively block any avenues for independent artists to 'make it' via the new tech, the internet.

    The solution will be a new "network effect" - a way for independent musicians and bands (and even poets!) to 'make it' via the new internet filesharing model. Perhaps a music rating system for indie artists who are depending on internet file sharing would help the better bands get more publicity and ear time, generating live gigs. Success will require musicians who have something new to say, and an audience who want to hear it. Somehow, people on the net need to provide concentrated support for one target after another to build some momentum.

    Probably, some form of 'new music form for a new culture' synergy between artist and audience will have to occur to energize the path. So if you're really tired of Britney (nice girl, but gone 'way wrong), are you prepared to hear something newer and deeper? What might that be?
  • by digrieze (519725) on Friday May 28, 2004 @01:17PM (#9278623)
    Music sales are ultimately driven by quality. The music "industry" is heading down the road of destruction if they think they can promote themselves out of the abyss.

    I've recently started teaching my son to play the guitar. He's had 6 years of experience and lessons and still couldn't play a decent lead. After looking through his music books (all popular rock bands) I figured it out.

    Train Song by Phish - 10 chords
    Last train Home by The Lost Prophets - 7 chords
    Would by Alice in Chains - 7 chords
    Cold Hard Bitch by Jet - 7 chords
    Strong Enough by Sheryl Crow - 6 chords

    No wonder they sounded the same (and boring) to me. On top of that the rock bands were over compressing the signal, great sustain but no musical dynamics. It was all stomp box distortion.

    I started off by teaching him a few decent songs (although we had to work on technique, he had never had to do a string bend, hammer on, or pull off).

    Dust in the Wind by KANSAS - (to learn to play clean)
    Desperado by The Eagles - (to learn to play with feeling)
    Stairway to Heaven - 23 chords
    Roundabout by YES, 40-43 chords (its how you play it)
    Clap by YES - 56 chords, and fast tempo

    When I was learning to play you'd be laughed at for playing chord progressions and calling them songs, now people play big bucks to hear what oughta be an improved lead.

    "C" was right, but he didn't take it far enough. I see the major labels limping along as the smaller companies with TALENTED MUSICIANS like GOTEE keep making a killing off each record they release because IT'S WORTH HEARING!

  • The music j^WBizz (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mabu (178417) on Friday May 28, 2004 @01:32PM (#9278771)
    As a performing musician and someone who's worked in the business managing bands and promoting shows and running web sites for major label acts, I can't honestly say I feel the industry has fundamentally changed in the last 10-20 years. It has changed, but this industry has *always been based on exploitation*. The nature of that exploitation has traditionally revolved around institutions exploiting artists. The only thing that's different nowadays is that the labels and the media have merged into one and are working as a single unit, whereas in the past, they were more disparate.

    What's wrong with the business can be summed up in three words:
    Clear Channel
    Ticketmaster
    These two entities have almost single-handedly tied up the lion's share of performance and marketing of music. There's not any more exploitation or screwing over of musicians than they're used to be, but now the companies wield so much power & influence they can shut down popular acts that don't jive with their operating plan, and now they're more actively in the business of actually manufacturing formulaic product to foist on consumers.

    Some things have changed in the business. Artists tend to make even less money proportionally and they have a harder time trying to find venues to play and promote their music. Monsters like Clear Channel won't put any controversial art in rotation, opting for shallow, characterless "boy bands" and "cute chicks". It appears your average person seems to eat the gruel they're feeding 'em but this undoubtedly is having an effect on music sales. People aren't excited about the art like they used to because there's very little art to it any more.

    But there are still a lot of great bands out there. The problem is nobody knows about them because they have no radio stations to play their music and no decent clubs to book them. Without any means to promote their music, it's very hard to get started.

    One equalizer to this problem could be the Internet, but as of yet, it hasn't matured as a competitive medium to the traditional music outlets. I'm one of those who really thinks that iTunes is overrated and a sham. Why pay the same price for more restrictive, lower-quality music? This is the same old business model that's been dumped on consumers: we'll give you what we think you want, not what you really want.

    One good thing that's come out of all this is that in the last decade artists have come to accept that it's a necessity for them to control their own marketing and product distribution. The more artists that bypass traditional outlets, the more likely there can be some alternative to the totally boring product that corporate America is trying to force feed consumers.

    But what's going on is just a symptom of a much larger sociological issue of art and creativity being considered unimportant, or secondary to the financial value of practicing such art.

    Case in point: the other day CNN did a story on Madonna's new tour. The topic wasn't about her work. It was about how much money it's estimated she'll net from her tour and how powerful she is as a woman. The mainstream media seems to measure everything in dollars and this is undermining the basis of what art is really about. Even if you don't like Madonna, you have to cringe when you see the major media qualify artists exclusively in terms of their ability to make money.
  • by rczik (254081) on Friday May 28, 2004 @03:23PM (#9279930)
    There are many reasons the recording 'industry' is failing. Not the least of which is cost. Even at iTunes prices of $1/song, it would cost $1300 (assuming 3MB/song) to fill it. A fully loaded iPod with a 40 GB disk would be $13,000! So that's about 5 PCs, 1/2 a car, almost the cost of 1 year room/board/tuition for in state residents at UMass. That's not sane.

    But look at it from the record company's perspective. Sell 1 million 40GB iPods, assume they are 1/2 full. That translates to $6.5 billion, gross.

    It's all about the $$$. They can't see past that.

    r
  • by kardar (636122) on Friday May 28, 2004 @04:46PM (#9280702)
    I think that right about now would be a good time to have some "new" thing. The new new wave, or whatever. The industry goes in cycles. Things get really dull, really boring, and then something happens, something new, exciting, and cool.

    The new thing that happens really has to be new, exciting, and cool, not just marketed to be that way or whatever.

    I think the difference today, as opposed to previously, is that not only does the new thing need to have a style, an approach to life, an attitude, etc..., not only does it have to be creative, exciting, innovative, and so forth, it also has to be innovative, creative, and "thinking outside the box" when it comes to how to get itself out to large numbers of people.

    The old way of going through the record labels, finding that one "cool" person who is willing to give something different a try, finding that one cool label, or whatever - that isn't going to work anymore, most of those folks have probably been laid off.

    So the media (or methods), the way you get the music out needs as much innovation as the music and genre itself. Perhaps iTunes has what it takes to do this; but until everyone owns an mp3 player or an Ipod, this might make it difficult.

    And then there is the question of whether or not there really is such a thing as "talent". Is there any ONE person, whose "talent" is so far above and beyond all of the other hard-working, struggling artists that this person deserves to be placed on a pedestal like that?

    It would probably take a 300-page book to explain everything I am going at here, but the relevant part to this discussion is that there needs to be "talent" at navigating this uncertain present and future with regards to "media" (i.e. CD, DVD, download, etc...). Without competent talent to navigate that, we are not going to see any more Hendrixes. But then again, that's another 300 page book.

    The long and the short of it is that being an artist is very difficult if that's what you want to do. Maybe we won't have any more pop artists like we did in the past; maybe those times are over. Hendrix didn't need to die; Bon Scott didn't need to die; all of these folks didn't really need to do all of that cocaine and heroin and everything else; we know better now. We now know that cigarettes aren't all that cool anymore.

    It's over. And judging from how the artists have been treated, and how "talent" is essentially being "punished" for being so talented, this might very well be a good thing. It's disturbing to see how talented people are treated by the record labels. You would think that in a free society such as America, this kind of nonsense would not be taking place. First and foremost is to respect yourself and those around you, and it seems to me that if one were to spread any message to millions and millions of people around the world it would be exactly that message - repect yourself and those around you.

    Maybe the message that the world needs now is not one of style and popularity, but of self-respect and respect for other fellow human beings. Diversity and equality, education, not ignorance. So in a way, the shallowness of the nonsense is not altogether a bad thing, provided there is something else to occupy people's attention; something intelligent and interesting for people to absorb their minds in once they realize how shallow their "idols" really are.

    There are a few individuals in the world, who are "talented". Then there are a few more individuals who understand talent enough to realize that it is a rare thing, and they respect this rare thing. (might I add that they also think that they are incredibly cool for realizing something that they think that only they themselves have the capacity to see...) But for the most part, a lot of the consumers don't really get this. There is so much "boilerplate" (i.e. dancing women, teenage heartbreak, fancy cars, spiky hair and guitars) that you will present a similar image to the world whether or not you are talented or not. The talent has

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