I saw a Deadhead sticker on a Cadillac
A voice inside my head said don’t look back
You can never look back

"Boys Of Summer"
Don Henley

1. Retail

Last Wednesday night, on my way to dinner at Il Sole, I drove past Tower Records.  Tower Records used to be SO busy, such a cultural hotspot, that they bought an additional parking lot on the other side of Spago.  But at eight o’clock this evening, there were EMPTY SPACES in the MAIN parking lot, right next to the store.

Tower Records used to be a destination, it used to be the pulse, it used to be where music lived.  Now it’s a graveyard.  Inhabited only by those who didn’t get the memo, who are still buying CDs.

Used to be that not only was every space in the main parking lot full, cars were lined up in the spaces BETWEEN the spaces.  Traffic was backed up on Sunset.  You had to wait to get in to LOOK for a space.  Inside the store you were confronted with piles of vinyl albums by artists only you thought you knew.  But then MTV made it only about the cream of the crop, Top Forty eclipsed album rock radio and everything but the hits became irrelevant.

Then came Napster.

I don’t want to hear another fucking word how bad MP3s/files sound.  If you’re that fucking concerned, buy the biggest iPod you can and fill it with Apple lossless files.  Or download FLAC files from the Net.  The only people bitching about the sound quality of files are those NOT USING THEM!  Lamenting the death of the CD.  Isn’t it funny that these same people and their progenitors foisted upon the public the horrific 8-track and not much better duplicated at high speed cassette?  Eliminated the far superior vinyl record and delivered the too-low sampled to sound good CD?

Furthermore, who killed the stereo business?  And, ever listen to today’s CHEAP stereos?  They sound light years better than what could be afforded for the same price back in the seventies.  And the iPod sounds BETTER than MOST people’s stereos.  So, to complain about sound quality is to show your ignorance.  And it’s about convenience anyway.

There’s no convenience in getting in your car and driving at four bucks a gallon to an emporium that doesn’t have what you want and if it does, sells it to you along with ten shitty tracks.  People would rather stay home.  Oh, there’s a market for indie stores.  Hell, there are stores selling all kinds of antiques to collectors.  But the CD is in a death spiral that nobody will talk about.  As they continue to try and reap the final financial rewards before the wall is hit.

It’s like Napster never happened.  The concept of more people owning more music at a cheaper per song price never happened.  What we have is ostriches.  Ignoring the fact that most music is acquired FREE and just pointing to the Luddites who DO pay.  I don’t care how helpful the employees might be, it’s not about FIXING brick and mortar retail, it’s about ABANDONING IT!

2. Top Forty Radio

Nobody listens to the radio.  Oh, of course this is untrue, but be clear, RADIO IS NOT WHERE IT’S AT!

How can you tell?

Just ask somebody if he knows the big hits in the Billboard Hot 100.  Oh, you might have READ about Paris Hilton’s track, or Kevin Federline’s, but unless you’ve got the intelligence of a gnat, you’ve done your best to AVOID CONTACT WITH THEM!

There’s a whole subculture.  Growing by the minute.  Of the disillusioned and disenfranchised.  Who’ve abandoned traditional media for the Net.

They don’t care about Mariah Carey.  They don’t care about Christina Aguilera.  These are SIDESHOWS!

Musicians don’t want to debate the merits of Sony BMG vs. Universal.  Don’t even want to get into the advantages/disadvantages of Frontline vs. the Firm.  The only people who care are those entrenched in the old.  People who’re living on fumes, in the realm that USED TO BE!  Oh, it’s not that these firms are going out of business, are irrelevant, it’s just that they and their charges no longer control the landscape, no longer are aspired to by musicians.  That’s the old way.  Now it’s make music, put it up on the Web and see what happens.  As opposed to getting a lawyer who’ll hook you up with a manager and a label.  After all, acts don’t TRUST the old infrastructure, it doesn’t look like THEM!  It looks like their parents.  People out of touch who are only interested in the bottom line.

Most people have never heard Rihanna or Cassie and could give a fuck.  There’s no curiosity in the old system.  It’s like watching cricket instead of the World Cup.  Those days are THROUGH!  Not completely, but the old systems have been MARGINALIZED!

This is a read-only blog. E-mail comments directly to Bob.