The music industry as a whole has been in desperately terrible shape for some time now. I think you could probably blame the 1980’s and that whole era of crapulence, but it might be impossible to pin down the exact moment that this lumbering giant started it’s slow decent in to the pit of image over function. Whatever started it, it would appear that the end of the “big label” is quickly coming to an end, and I’d like to think that I can explain to you why, and how truly thankful I really am that this industry is going to implode.
First of all, let’s talk about modern times. Let’s look at the very thing that the music industry is blaming for the decline in record sales; downloading music!! You do it, I do it, and I am going to guess that your dad does it too. Well, how else is he going to get his mitts on a copy of Golden Earring’s “greatest hits”? Anyway, the point is that downloading music has had ZERO effect on the music industry in a negative way*. The fact of the matter is that the labels are SCARED that people will hear the absolute TRIPE that they are demanding that their artists put out, and in return, no one will buy the disks. It’s a valid fear; I would challenge you to find ten CD’s that have been put out in the last year by the major labels that contain more than one or two decent songs. And at the end of the day, those people don’t want you to know that you are shitting SEVENTEEN dollars down your leg by purchasing a musical abortion. Their hope is that everyone buys the disk the MINUTE that it comes out so that no one has time to listen to it and tell their friends not to waste ONE LOWLY DOLLAR on an album that you wouldn’t break in half and slit your own wrists with.
Secondly, when was the last time that someone came out with a song that didn’t sound like it was written by a troop of two year old, autistic chimps? Can I quote some Nickelback lyrics for you? Thanks:
I like your pants around your feet
And I like the dirt that’s on your knees
And I like the way you still say please
While you’re looking up at me
You’re like my favourite damn disease*
I’m sorry? What? Is this what people are passing off as lyrics these days? Now, this shit might fly when played at the local school for the deaf and rhythmically challenged, but I HOPE that the average person is insulted when this garbage flows in to their speakers. I like to pretend that people are OUTRAGED when some redneck uses monosyllabic words to describe receiving fellatio from his dentally handicapped mother. I like to imagine a world where NO ONE buys this disk and then the guys from Nickelback go into some sort of weird early retirement as gladiators, forced to fight lions and tigers to the death, armed only with nerf baseball bats and their “ROCK n ROLL ‘tude”. But I guess my dreams are all I have for now.
Finally, I put some of the blame on the consumer. Yes, you. If there weren’t people outside record stores, waiting in the rain for the newest Shaggy release to come out, then I suppose the companies would stop writing them checks and allowing them to make “music”. Whether the average consumer puts together that the music industry is pure business or not is beyond me. Most people I talk to seem to think that success is marked by the pure numbers of disk that you can sell, not the quality of the art that is created. If it’s strictly a numbers game, then doesn’t that put the Backstreet Boys and *N’Sync up there as some of the “greatest artists of all time”? How many people threw twenty bucks in to the shitter by adding that “soundtrack to the end of the world” to their collection? 2.4 million in a week*. TWO POINT FOUR FUCKING MILLION PEOPLE IN A WEEK. You mean we have people STARVING TO DEATH in the streets, but 2.4 million people can shell out a crispy, new Andrew Jackson for a disk of songs performed by guys that can’t even tune a fucking guitar? You people have NO shame.
So what am I saying? Am I saying that music is dying? Am I saying that no one will release any more disks? No, I think you will find that the major labels are going to dry up and blow away like so much rancid dog shit, and the Indie labels are going to push through even harder now. I am saying that you should pay attention to labels like Trustkill, Solidstate, Rhymesayers, Def Jux and Victory records. The bands that deserve the attention will eventually find a way to get the attention. I keep hoping for a repeat of the early 1990’s. I keep hoping that some little band on a little label will come along and kick the music industry in it’s collective balls and give the music back to the artists; Not people named Ludakris, Nelly or Scott Stapp.