World Domination?

You’ve got to lower your expectations.

I’m being hassled by the "Instant Karma" crew.  How dare I rag on Green Day, they’re doing it for CHARITY!  I need to APOLOGIZE!

By time we’re through, EVERYBODY in this country is gonna have to apologize.  For a supposedly macho group of people, we certainly get our feelings hurt easily.  Or is it our egos bruised?

The media tells us we should be offended.  Then you’ve got XM subscribers trashing their radios and canceling their subscriptions because Opie & Anthony were kicked off the air.  XM is playing to some fictitious religious right and a ruling FCC when the people actually keeping them in business, PAYING for their service, are being denied exactly what they paid FOR!  Beyond AM and FM?  No, XM is the damn same.  A haven for outlaws?  No, just a bunch of business pricks in it for the money.  FM was a renegade service…  Well, that’s just exactly my point.  FM’s heyday was over thirty years ago.  If we’re waiting for it to come back…

In an era of cell phones, computers and video games, how in the hell are we going to get traction on a fucking RECORD?

We used to have limited diversions.  Stay at home on a rainy day and you could watch the three networks, listen to the radio, play your records or read.  And how many records did you have?  Shit, for a while there people only had singles.  And when the album explosion happened, twenty five discs was a HUGE COLLECTION!

That’s two hundred and fifty tracks.  I’ve sat down for a P2P session and downloaded over 100 in an HOUR!  People go to friends’ houses and transfer via hard drive THOUSANDS OF SONGS!

Now the Beatles and the Stones, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd, their reputations are made, they’ve already got traction.  But what if you’re a NEW ACT?

The majors would have us believe everybody watches the same television and listens to terrestrial radio.  This is what has put them in the dumper, more than P2P, the fact that NOBODY IS PAYING ATTENTION!

Oh, not nobody, but…

Those people behind the "Instant Karma"/Darfur record, they’re under the illusion that the odometer didn’t spill over, that we’re still in the nineties as opposed to the twenty first century.

I’m addicted to media.  But I didn’t connect the dots about Green Day’s performance on "American Idol".  That they did their track off the charity album.  Oh, I’d HEARD of the charity album, its memory is residing in some far off brain cell, but I’m not thinking about it, and I didn’t hear anybody on "American Idol" mention it.

Oh, let’s round up the usual suspects and make a charity record.  Well, how are you going to let the public KNOW ABOUT IT?

We live in a Tower of Babel society.  Everybody watching different shit, essentially speaking a different language.  Were the people who went to see the third "Shrek" the same as those who went to see the third "Spider-Man"?  I’d say there’s SOME crossover, but "Shrek" skews younger, and despite the dazzling grosses, MOST PEOPLE HAVE NOT SEEN THE FLICKS!  Oh, they might watch them eventually on DVD or pay cable, but people really only care about the great ones.  Oh, and the long tail ones, the ones sold by word of mouth, the ones you can show your identity with by proselytizing their virtues.

It’s the same in music, but worse.  It’s harder to break big.  And then there are the indies bubbling under.  In between?  FAILURE!  Big label attempts that go almost nowhere, imitations of what’s come before that nobody cares about.

And we’ve got the big boys who think their mass shit is.  And the indie loners who have contempt for that crap and only like what most people have never heard of.  And most people ARE NOT PAYING ATTENTION!

Most WERE paying attention in the nineties, but as the acts got more plastic and albums only had one good track, they tuned out, they got their kicks somewhere other than Route 66.

So, if you DO have something great to sell these days, it’s hard to get everybody’s attention.

So, are we returning to the late sixties and early seventies?

I think not.  Those days are through.

Can a Mo Ostin Warner Brothers come back?

Interesting question…  Does a band NEED a label?  It needs someone to do its bidding, its business, but are a manager and agent enough (if you even need the agent…)  Do you need the label’s muscle when you can’t get noticed via their efforts anyway?  And indies don’t pay much better than majors, and the advances are smaller, should you just put the record out yourself, or GIVE THE MUSIC AWAY?

I’ve been thinking about where we are, where we’re going.  We navel-gazers in the music business think that people care, that the SoundScan chart is relevant.  But maybe it’s not anymore.  Maybe we need a MINDSHARE chart!  How many people are AWARE of your act?  And what are their feelings about it?  Thumbs up, down or mas o menos?

TV has never gone back to the sixties.  The networks’ ratings have plummeted, and now there are more channels than ever, never mind YouTube and Joost.

Is this the future?  A ton of product, everybody into their own little thing?  Mass culture just a niche unto itself?

If you’re shooting for the brass ring, give up.  Especially if you want success immediately.  Maybe, over time, you’ll gain enough followers, you’ll mean something.  But it will take time.

About all you can do is make great music.  And hope that it resonates with listeners and they spread the word.  Push it and you’re fucked.  In a pull world where people have the WHOLE WORLDWIDE WEB AT THEIR FINGERTIPS, why should they be browbeaten, why should they go where you want them to?

So, the exhibition paradigm is different.  As is the selling one.

We don’t have stadium shows because no one cares enough about any of the new acts.  Whereas I went to a LOGGINS & MESSINA stadium show in the seventies…because we were all listening to the same stations, we were all in it together.

I’m positively overwhelmed.  Looking at the record reviews in "Entertainment Weekly", "Rolling Stone" and "Paste", never mind the want to be hip "New York Times" and its west coast counterpart, the "Los Angeles Times".  I don’t even have enough time to read the reviews, never mind listen to the records.  And, I’ve heard so much shitty music that I’m inclined to think what’s being purveyed won’t float my boat.  The Arctic Monkeys!  Lily Allen!  Feist!  If they changed your world, fine…  It’s not that they’re bad, but they’re not mind-blowing.  So the business needs to believe in something, does the PUBLIC?

You’ve got to start with trust.  People trust indies because they’re sans the major label bullshit.  If the majors want to sell new records, they’ve got to reestablish trust.  And sell slower.  Gain fans one by one.  Find the most palatable stuff, the best stuff, the stuff the most people will be interested in, and build it.  But the people working at EMI might not even be there soon.  The companies are owned by investors, the numbers are most important.  The labels are beholden to the wrong people, Wall Street instead of Main Street.

And the indie stuff is too often…  Too out there or crap.

We’ve been looking for a top-down solution.  Someone who’s gonna come and save the day.  A new FM, a new MTV.  But in an era where even Pitchfork whores itself out to Paul McCartney,

Interview: Sir Paul McCartney

it appears that we’re gonna have to truly grow from the bottom up.  You seemingly can’t believe in just about everybody in the sphere.  Their loyalties aren’t to YOU!  Is your band’s loyalty to its fans?  Do you stand for something?  Are you more than a hit single?  Do you EMPOWER your acolytes, giving them the tools to spread the word?  Not finding tools to be your tools to force shit down people’s throats?

We’re gonna sell a lot of music in the future.  But dominant acts…  Just look at the SoundScan charts, those days are through.

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