Corporate Hate

What kind of crazy fucked-up world do we live in where politicians eschew corporate donations but musicians are in bed with the companies?

One in which music, normally the pusher of the envelope, has lost touch with its audience.

Credibility is key. That’s why people have stopped believing Elon Musk. You’re supposed to over deliver and under promise, not over promise and under deliver. Musk has yet to establish a deadline he can meet. Sure, the short-sellers are hurting Tesla, but Musk is also culpable.

But credibility left the music business once recording royalties declined and acts believed they had to make up the cash somewhere else. It used to be taboo to tie up with the man, but now it’s de rigueur.

But not in politics. HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?

The Democratic Party was not prepared. That’s the story of 2016 and quite possibly the story of 2020. The usual suspects kept Bernie Sanders down, and now they’re freaking out about his lead in fund-raising, all from small donors. Turns out there’s more money in speaking to the people than speaking to the man. This is how the Republicans lost control of their party. Today it’s all about the individual, the grass roots, even on the right, that’s how Trump beat the anointed candidate, Jeb Bush. Sure, Trump is still serving corporate interests, but that’s not what he ran on. His only hope of staying in power is continuing to point to minorities and immigrants as the problem, appealing to his constituents’ xenophobia, but the truth is America is changing, and the politicians are in the lead.

You speak your truth and appeal to the bottom, not the top. And this adds to your cred and ends up growing not only your pocketbook, but your image.

Think about that. You can make as much money, if not more, by not playing the game.

Think long term. Great acts are forever. Comets fade away. And we’ve got so many evanescent acts these days.

It’s the 1960s all over again.

Then it was about Vietnam, today it’s about income inequality. Those bragging how rich they are are missing the point. They appeal to nitwits who are soon on to the next thing anyway. Today you’ve got to have a soul, you’ve got to be able to say no. If you take the check, expect to pay the price.

That’s how Beto O’Rourke got his name. By appealing to the individual donor.

And never forget, it’s the individual who keeps you alive. Sure, you get a big Amex check for the pre-sale, but the real money is in selling the tickets themselves. Meanwhile, you just piss off the audience by keeping the ticketing process opaque.

Look at Pearl Jam, they’re still selling arenas and they haven’t had a hit in eons. But they appeal to their fans, who have rock solid belief in the act. One can argue the best thing Pearl Jam ever did was sue Ticketmaster. Standing up to the man pays dividends.

Sure, sell merch. But know there’s a limit to what you can sell without looking like you’re whoring yourself out.

Then again, the business has shifted over the decades. Used to be the acts were in charge, now the business infrastructure is in charge. Labels will reject music. Agents and managers will say to take the corporate deal because they want their commission.

There’s a change brewing in America. On both the left and the right. The average American trusts neither the corporations nor the government. They believe the game is rigged and the odds are stacked against them. You succeed by appealing to their beliefs, not by making deals with their enemies.

As for becoming a billionaire… The odds are almost nil, and the truth is billionaires are now anxious about the public blowback.

It’s a veritable revolution I tell you. And it’s noticeable in politics because that’s where the reporters are, they tell the tale.

Whereas in music, all we’ve got is sycophants, stoking the fires, propping up the beast.

The next big acts in the business will be the ones slugging it out on the road and the internet. We’re going to see a whole new set of acts from different genres emerge. Because the public demands this. That’ll be the story of the coming years, the demolition of the divide between mega-popular and everybody else. The popular will mean less. They will be seen as part of the machine. Whereas the other acts on the sidelines will be truly driving the culture, and we’ll realize it a step after it happens, but we’ll realize it nonetheless.

You’ve got to pay your dues, you’ve got to have something to sell, it’ll be regional before it’s national. Bubbling under before it is dominant.

And this is not only in music, but all other walks of life. It’ll be about feelings, not bucks. It’ll be about usefulness, not disposability.

These new people funded politicians are monoliths.

The acts will come next.

But it won’t come from the industry, but outside. That’s the story of disruption, Clayton Christensen said that corporations should disrupt themselves, but they never do, it’s always outside entrepreneurs who can smell where it’s going as opposed to where it’s at.

Leave some money on the table, become fan first.

It’ll pay dividends, that’s the story of the future.

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