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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Have a Cigar, dear boy, and listen to The Sound of Muzak.

Back in 2007 Hanson (yes THAT Hanson) released a 12-part documentary filmed during the making of their album "Underneath" which saw them leave their major label Island/Def Jam due to frustrations with the label in the making of the album. In the end the band started their own indie label and have been releasing albums on it since then.

The documentary is a warts and all detailing of trying to make an album in the major label environment when the label wants to exert pressure on the band to make a "radio hit". It's VERY revealing and candid and even if you HATE Hanson (and fair play, I don't like them either) but if you ever wanted to see the ugly side of making a record for a major label and just the making of an album this is worth a look.

Part 1 of 12 is down below. I'm only a few "episodes" in, it's really great and quite revealing. I really hope nobody here (or anyone, really) never have to go through that....

Also, for a class of mine I had to create a "protest poster" (see above) about any particular issue. I chose the music industry. The documentary I linked above is a great example of all of the shit and horrible things that happen in the industry. Personally, I'm of the belief that the major labels need to fall and hard. Call it karmic justice, but their insistence on sticking with outdated business models and their tendency to rip the artist off for 80, 90 percent of the profits is just flat-out wrong. It really disheartens me to see these pigs in control of the music industry. Pink Floyd said it best 30 years ago - it's a machine, and always has been. Now, I am not at all advocating downloading music illegally. Supporting artists, especially small and independent ones is the right thing to do, without question. But when buying CDs and going to shows is only supporting the middle man, how can we support bands? With the current recession, the boom of downloading, the "loudness war" and the mp3 trend, increasingly manufactured pop music with Auto-Tune all over the place, it's no wonder how the industry got to where it is today. It needs to fall so it can be rebuilt from the ground up. Maybe in 50 years we'll see the same cycle, but for right now we cannot allow this to continue. They said home taping was killing music, and that downloading was killing music, but it's not killing the music, it's killing the industry. And the industry is killing music.


guitarsean said...

I will be adding those videos to my list of things to watch soon. Nice poster. Can we post it on Facebook and such?

I hope new models of business take hold before too much more damage to the art is done. You said: "But when buying CDs and going to shows is only supporting the middle man, how can we support bands?" Well, here's where bands need to change. We need new independent ways of delivery. We need to be better at letting people know independent music is out there. Buying a CD supports an artist best if that artist is already independent. Someone on a major label might get .50 per CD (after all kinds of expenses are stripped by the label). One of my music business books broke down a typical major label deal and in the end the band sold a million cds and ended up with $20,000 actual income from it. I sell through indie routes like CDBaby and I make round $6 per cd. I'd need to sell a little over 3,000 cds to make $20,000. I haven't come remotely close to that, but you can see the disparity. Plus, my cds don't cost a ton to make in the first place. I might not make a lot of money, but I don't owe anyone my firstborn because of a bad deal.

I think the industry has always been a sucking vortex of suck to a certain degree. After our recent discussions and seeing information from industry insiders though it's clear that the system is much worse than it was in the 60's or 70's. Things have gotten so bad that I feel like the industry has actually damaged music and consumers, that people lack the actual cognitive skill to be open to new music. I realize that is a gross generalization. I also realize that people can like what they want. No one has to like my music. I don't make pop music. "Pop" music by definition appeals to a wide audience and tends to be simpler than other types of music. But it doesn't have to be dumb. It doesn't have to be forgettable.

T-Bo said...

Agreed, Sean. And sure, go ahead - it's on my Facebook already!

BG said...

"They said home taping was killing music, and that downloading was killing music, but it's not killing the music, it's killing the industry. And the industry is killing music."

Nicely said...why the industry needs to be killed.

Now the big question is, what will happen if/when the big labels go bankrupt and cannot produce and distribute the music?

I see a lot of "survival of the fittest" scenarios in my head....and I suppose I don't mind if things went in that direction as there are a lot of bands/performers I could live without

stringray said...

All will be gone. No music industry, no musicians, etc.
Neuronal analyzers will read your brain-structure and tailor prefect compositions for your taste.
the music replicator will be your master. :p