Breaking Bad

It’s the best show on television.
Who cares about a show with a twisted concept featuring a sitcom star on a second-rate cable network?

Not many. Only the TV aficionados. Who beat the drum for “Breaking Bad” to the point that now, in its final season, there’s mania. People enduring weekend marathons just to catch up. Kind of like we used to discover the hit album and then buy all the catalog. When there was a catalog.

Old school is throw a lot of money at it and see if it sticks. If you don’t think that’s how the major labels work, you’re still wearing your love beads. That’s the American Way, find a deep pocket to rocket you to the moon. The only problem is no one’s paying attention, and oftentimes you don’t have it all figured out at the beginning. You don’t know who you are, what the show is, you’ve got to play in the sandbox a while to figure it out.

This is also the opposite of today’s major music world. Failure is not allowed. Which is why they’ve got all the new artists cowriting with the usual suspects and utilizing the same famous producers. Which is why all the music sounds the same and people bitch. Well, the people who remember when music was about testing limits as opposed to hitching one’s star to a corporation.

So you’ve got the companies on the wrong track. And the audience disappointed. What about the acts?

Did you see that Dylan quote, about Neil Young?

I’d like to say David Carr’s article is worth reading, it’s not. But this nugget proves the point:

“‘An artist like Neil always has the upper hand,’ he says. ‘It’s the pop world that has to make adjustments. All the conventions of the pop world are only temporary and carry no weight. It’s basically two different things that have nothing to do with each other.'”

Neil Young Comes Clean

Wow, clarity. Unlike Dylan’s obfuscation in the latest issue of “Rolling Stone.”

And you might be sitting there at home saying Neil Young started off with hits, and no one cared about Dylan until he scored the famous covers. I could debate the past with you, there are great lessons there, but the point is we’re living in the future, and a lot of the old rules don’t apply.

There is no mainstream you can latch on to other than the Top Forty sinkhole. Radio specializes in safe. You expect it to break you through?

So you’ve got to be on a mission. Of personal exploration and greatness. You can’t expect immediate success. You probably don’t deserve it. But when you find your way, deep in your career, when others have already given up and gone back to graduate school, then maybe you have a chance.

Not that everybody makes it. For every “Breaking Bad” there’s a score of disappointments on the side of the road. But isn’t it funny that the success is the most genre-bending. Mixing cancer, meth and school is akin to mashing up enough elements to catch the public’s ear like Devo did. You want to succeed? Be different!

But at least Devo had KROQ.

You’ve got nothing.

You want to go viral.

But rule one of virality is the public decides. And you never know exactly what will go wide. Try to calculate and you’ll ensure a failure. This is not MTV, airing only a handful of videos and if you make it through the filter you’re on your way to the bank. This is the wild west where you’re competing with zillions of new videos a day.

And it’s not about a million views. Most truly viral videos are one of a kind. It’s about growth. If your audience is not growing, you’re doing it wrong. You’re never going to make it.

So think before you make music. Know that it’s the recordings and shows more than the publicity. Realize that if you have lasting success, it will probably come long after you’ve been at loose ends and were on the verge of giving up.

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