So Close

I’m just stunned how out of it I am.  If I didn’t read the newspaper I don’t
think I’d have any clue what was going on.

I have a friend in Seattle my age.  I reference the most obvious popular
culture icons/happenings and she’s got no clue of which I’m speaking. 
And she has two teenage children.

I’d like to just say we’re old and out of it.  But I don’t think kids know
what’s going on anymore either.

Oh, it’s not like I know nothing.  But I don’t feel like I’m on the pulse. 
Actually, I don’t feel like there IS a pulse.

Going through a ton of mail Friday night I came across the new Bonnie Raitt
album.  And what blew my mind was I had no idea it had come out.  Oh, maybe the
technical release date isn’t til today.  WHO KNOWS?  That’s just the point. 
And, if I don’t know, a big fan, how in the hell else is ANYBODY ELSE GOING TO

It would be one thing if Bonnie was on an independent label.  If she hadn’t
broken through with "Nick Of Time".  But Bonnie Raitt is a household word.  At
least to anybody over the age of twenty.  And, her tree is falling in the
forest and nobody knows.

Oh, maybe she’ll appear on "The Today Show".  "Good Morning America".  Maybe
casual fans will become aware of her new release.  But I don’t watch those
shows, and most of my musical contemporaries don’t either.  Maybe these hard core
fans of music go to Starbucks.  Read magazines, with ads.  But how in the
hell is a label supposed to make its investment back?  It’s IMPOSSIBLE!

You can have a HIT now and a large segment of the population is clueless
about it.  Has never heard it.

This is what’s killing the major labels.  Even if they PUT OUT good records
their audience is limited.  The machine is geared up to sell ten million
records, based on radio airplay and MTV exposure.  And those only exist for a
handful of acts.  And, most often, not the very good ones.

The major labels don’t want to face this reality.  That their whole business
PARADIGM has changed.  That suddenly, they’re now in the long tail business. 
Selling very few copies of everything.  Oh, the majors will tell you that only
a few of their new releases catch fire.  But their catalog items.  They’re
what is keeping these companies alive.  Based on their present structure, I’d
tell everybody but Universal to shut down their new artist wings.  The
expenditures just don’t square with the revenues.  Universal seems to find artists that they can jam down everybody’s throats and make money.  But the other
labels…their hit to shit ratio is SO bad.  If they want to be in the new artist
business, they should retool.

It’s not about Lyor Cohen starting an incubator, not an e-only release
company.  It’s about firing himself and DISMANTLING Atlantic Records.  Just hiring a
bunch of A&R guys who TRULY know music who go by their guts.  And DON’T think
about commercial possibilities.  Who sign acts for essentially nothing and
then work them on a grass roots level.  All those big time marketing execs, the
field staff.  It would be one thing if they were paying dividends, but the red
ink keeps flowing.

It’s time to go back to the way the music business used to be.  When it was
about RECORDING someone, getting their music into the marketplace, not building

Movies have to be stars themselves.  The economics dictate it.

But records can be cut cheaply.  You don’t need a lot of buyers to make your
money back.

But it’s not much money.

So, in the future, it’s about a filter.  A label that you can trust. 
Something LIKE Victory.  That will pique people’s INTEREST!

It can’t be about giving away CD players and trips, it’s got to be about
truly convincing those in the business of exposing music that something’s GOOD! 
Not that this person and that is on it, that you’ve got a five million dollar
marketing commitment.  Other than TV, people will laugh at you.  To the
Internet blogger the fact that you’ve committed to all these marketing expenditures
is IRRELEVANT!  Watch that episode of "Entourage".  Where Vince has to kiss the
ass of the blogger.  THAT’S what the business is turning into.  The geek has

There’s a very good track on this new Bonnie Raitt album "Souls Alike".

But that makes no difference to the label.  They have about as much of a
chance working "So Close" as Warner Brothers did with anything off of Bonnie’s
"Give It Up", which is one of her two best records (the other being "Luck Of The
Draw"), which spawned no hit singles and garnered almost no airplay.  But
people told others about the record.  Bonnie toured.  She was building a base. 
That’s supported her to this day.  All based on good music.

I assume that Capitol will take advertisements in boomer magazines.  "The New
Yorker", maybe even "Vanity Fair".  Some of the audience will fire a synapse
and buy this album.  After all, it’s the adults who are now the impulse
buyers, they remember when music could change your life, and they’ve got the money to buy a CD, and not the time to download P2P.

But the boomers are getting older by the minute.  They’re being replaced by a
generation SUSPICIOUS of everything that’s a hit.  They’re suspicious not
only of the music, but the MARKETING!  And, since THEY’RE so hard to reach,
you’ve spent SO MUCH to finally get to them that they feel bombarded, and are
turned off.

So close
I can nearly taste it
This is that one promised love
God knows
All that I’ve wasted now
Never letting love start

The boomers are not their parents.  They didn’t marry one person and stay
with them.  Rather, they had serial relationships, sometimes fucked more than one
person at one time.  They got married and divorced.  And married and
divorced.  You’d think they no longer believe.

But they do.

That flame never went out.  They’re battered.  But they’ve got hope.  With
their receding hairlines and expanding waistlines they trepidatiously test the
waters.  A glance means as much as it did in high school.  You’ve got some
miles under your belt, you know how to do it, but it’s not easy to get your motor
running, to find mutual connection.

"So Close" is quiet.  With a keyboard that feels like the middle of the
night.  When you’re alone, but not desperate.  When you’ve got nothing to work with but a tiny interaction, that has you believing.

Listening to "So Close" not only soothes your soul, it enriches your life. 
That’s what music used to be.  That’s what music no longer is.  That’s what
it’s going to be in the years that come.

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