I’m the singer and main songwriter for the band Cartel that you so vehemently wrote off as another desperate band in a desperate time. I’ve got to admit that your recent letter got under my skin but I totally understand where you’re coming from and agree with most everything you said. I don’t really care about a response from you. I just want you to hear what the artist is thinking and not what a label/manager/ad agency or anyone else has to say about this.
First off, lets get all the things we agree on out of the way. Of course this is a marketing ploy and a huge one at that. There’s not one person who reads about this fan or not that isn’t going to see this as a stunt. Second, if I were not the subject of the matter I would whole-heartedly agree that whatever band was doing was being suckered in and hoodwinked and hijacked or whatever phrase we can think of. Lastly, the industry nowadays should be about the music and nothing else. The artist should feel that his or her talent and expression of which should be the only thing that matters and nothing more. With all that I agree.
Now, to address what assumptions you are making about us as an artist. Well, you admitted right off that you’ve never heard of us and we’ve been touring for 4 years and started on an indie label….yada yada. All that has a lot to do with why we did this. I’m 23 so most of the lifespan of the modern music industry has passed my mature mind by. 10 years ago I couldn’t tell you who sang most of the songs that I had stuck in my head nor did I care. now, things are different. For one, the industry and music for that matter is not one iota comparable to an era such as the 70′s….ever since all those bands became popular and started making labels the juggernauts that they are today it’s been a downward spiral to this point in time….with labels and agencies and managers at the helm. Artists who are selling records and in the spotlight for the most part have little to nothing to do with anything other than the songs and even then I’d make a guess the 90% of the big artists are having someone else write their songs or sample it from a greater era of songwriting.
Cartel is a band tha believes in what we do. We write the kind of songs that could be on the radio….we also write the kind of songs radio programmers would scoff at. When is the last you heard of a band that has a top 40 single on the radio that also had a 12 minute finale that went through about 4 different movements and turned 5 different choruses from the previous songs into a medley reprise at the end. If there is such an artist I haven’t heard of them and most people who have heard the first single on our last record didn’t know we were that kind of band either. That is precisely the point. People don’t know what kind of artist we are. All they see is what radio and mtv want them to see which is the songs that sell records nowadays. 12 minute epics have no place on radio or mtv….hell, the only show that plays videos on mtv anymore only shows about 2 minutes of each video…..AND THOSE ARE THE MOST POPULAR ONES!!!!
See, we only have one record. We’re about to record our 2nd. People don’t really know us from any other band on the radio or mtv. All that is about to change. This bubble shit is stirring up all kinds of dust around the music world. Its something people find ridiculous. People think we’re crazy, sellouts, whores and everything else negative they can think of. Some people see it as cool. (I would venture to say that most of these people don’t have their head up their asses about music in the sense that they don’t think they are the definitive source on music knowledge or "what’s wrong with the industry"). The big point is that people who have never heard of us are hearing about us now. I know that great bands get out there some way…..but how long does that take. Even the upstarts from left field don’t have a career long enough to even call them road tested…..shit, some of them have played less than 100 shows ever by the time they "make it".
The industry is crumbling. People are losing their jobs. Less established bands are being dropped from major labels everyday…..even ones that sold pretty decently but didn’t get the break everyone was looking for. We are looking at this as our make or break opportunity. If this bubble thing never happened we would release our next record to our 200,000 or so fans with a single to radio that would be negligibly pushed and we would just sit back and see what happens with our career as our tour schedule continued. It might have broke and we could be sitting on cloud nine by the end of the year and everyone is happy with no cred lost and no harm done. That’s best case scenario. What if it flopped in the labels eyes and only sold 300k or so…that’s not good enough for these people. We’d be shitting ourselves still calling it awesome and enjoying the modest loot we make on the road. Now here’s where you say "shouldn’t it only matter what you think…..that you did your best and did it without this whole mess". Well, it does only matter what we think. It really doesn’t matter what you or any other blogger in the world thinks. We think we fucking rock. We think we’re one of the best bands making popular or any other kind of music right now. Our producers don’t do shit to our songs and we don’t listen to our A&R…he just got fired anyway. We’d dropkick most of the top 40 artists right in the face if we were put up to the tests of live performance or songwriting ability. With that being said, there are artists who are up there who are fantastic and bust their ass and earned it the old fashioned way. We, however, feel we deserve to be up there too and just because pete wentz doesn’t tell everybody they should like our band doesn’t mean we don’t belong.
This marketing scheme shows the world that we are a real band with real inspiration and real songs. Not some american idol winner or a label lottery contestant. People get to see us do what we do under intense pressure and scrutiny and still hit a fucking grand slam while in the meantime people in your position are hating like there’s no tomorrow on a band that they know little to nothing about.
Popular music is still the standard. Every legendary artist is the most popular at what they do and have accrued many platinum records……why? Because millions of people like their music….not the 500k or so indie kids who are too busy sucking their thumbs to realize that a really good band is being passed by because they "soldout". We’re even losing some of our fans by trying to play more technical and less "bouncy" rock. They think we’ve started to become boring to watch because we don’t encite mosh pits. That’s not what we’re about. We aspire to such bands as pearl jam and oasis and radiohead and the beatles and the beach boys and led zepplin….shit Yes is our lead guitar players favorite band. Steve howe is fucking god. Now how many top 40 artist could even name yes or steve howe for that matter.
All you guys think we’re just another dickless band with mediocre songs without even giving us a chance. That’s no way to find out about a band you might actually like. We will gladly accept all the fans that will have us even if they are of the generation that only listens to radio…..why? Because they just listen to music…..they don’t analyze business decisions or marketing ploys. They only care what’s coming in their ears and that’s what we’re about. Not some scene that’s too stuck in the past to do anything worthwhile anymore.
So we put our necks on the chopping block. We throw ourselves at everyone’s mercy with the belief that we wrote badass songs and that’s all that should matter. Which, as you say, that’s all that should matter. Not a bubble, not a gimmick, not a marketing stunt, not even mtv…..but the tunes. If we fail at that then that’s our mistake and ours alone. But if we knock it out of the park then we bypass all the lame fucks who are too full of themselves to take on opportunities such as this. Its not for everybody but its for us. Fuck selling records if that’s what you think this is all about. We want people to know that we will write rock songs and ballads and shit you probably haven’t heard before right in front of everyone’s eyes with no strings and no puppeteers doing the work for us. Listen to the record and decide then what to do with us.
Call this my manifesto but for one I’m sick of all the ninnies running around acting like they know anything about what it takes to create music. To all of them and you I ask……where’s your albums?
Thanks for your time if you actually read this. If you did I appreciate your attention and hopefully this shed some light on the darkness surrounding the bubble.
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