More Throw It Back

It doesn’t matter if you LIKE it, it matters if you can HEAR IT!

This is why I wrote such a long screed about this track. To warn/ward off/give a heads-up to the wankers sitting at home who think they know better, the holier-than-thou jerks who believe their opinion is definitive when it couldn’t be further off-base.

I didn’t get a single e-mail, NOT ONE, from anybody who actually works in the music industry who believes this track is not a hit.

As for those who don’t, the armchair quarterbacks… I got a slew angered at the auto-tune, more who didn’t listen to the whole thing. It’d be like someone introducing a bill in Congress with no knowledge of how that institution works. It doesn’t matter if your bill is a good idea, worthwhile, only if you can get it PASSED!

Which part of music BUSINESS do you not understand. Yes, BUSINESS! The same people complaining about “Throw it Back” are the same people complaining about low Spotify payments. Their songs get anemic streams yet they’re not only flummoxed that they’re not making a living in music, THEY’RE ANGRY! And since they’ve got time to sit in front of their computer complaining, unlike those in the industry who are actually busy working, their story gets amplified, even though it’s plain wrong. Oh, I could analyze that one again, but it’s a waste of time. In today’s world people don’t want to hear the truth. In a world where most Republicans think the election was stolen from Trump, “musicians” believe that Spotify is ripping them off, even though almost seventy percent of income to Spotify is passed through to rights holders as royalties. But no one ever looks at the facts anymore, they just go with their feelings.

And you wonder why your music gets no traction.

There’s a marketplace. How are you doing in it?

Another point of my essay was that it’s no longer sufficient just to be good, even great, that there’s so much noise in the channel that your track needs a push, the odds of it building organically are close to nil. That was the point of my missive about Trump giving up his blog, but response to that was sparse. Because people saw “Trump” in the headline and decided the article was political, when it was not. I could have changed it to make it more enticing, but then I would be moving toward the territory of the click-bait you see at the bottom of too many web articles, with flashy headlines THAT DON’T EVEN REFLECT THE CONTENT! Yes, the public is so dumb, such sheep, that you’ve got to wow them to intrigue them these days. Which is why Facebook tunes their algorithm accordingly. Otherwise, people wouldn’t click through. Because they’re overloaded with input. But my article was inspired by Trump shutting down his blog, if I didn’t mention it in the headline, you’d read about it immediately and then think it was bait and switch.

The mainstream means less than ever in today’s marketplace. You are truly operating in your own silo. And I must ask, how is that working for you? I don’t think too well, because I check the play count of those tracks you send me and they’re laughably low. So you’re not doing something right, your marketing sucks or god forbid, so does your music. And the truth today is you’ve got absolutely no chance unless your track is great, good is not good enough. Unless maybe you’re a name and part of a scene. But even the tracks of the biggest acts fail regularly, which is why labels massage cuts, the opportunity cost is high and they want to make sure that which they promote succeeds. So, they oftentimes buy insurance, with multiple writers, multiple producers, multiple mixes…and I’m not endorsing that, I’m just acknowledging it. If it’s hard for them, just think about how hard it is FOR YOU!

Don’t be like those contestants on “Shark Tank” who complain when the judges don’t invest. Either it was a lousy idea or they were asking too much for too little or in reality it was a scam, they were just using the show for publicity. Which is how many people use Kickstarter today. They just want to appear independent and small so they can get some attention.

Sure, there are other musical genres than pop/hip-hop and country, but in today’s marketplace NONE HAS BIG STREAMING NUMBERS! And that’s where the money goes, which is why the labels release this kind of music. And to tell you the truth, I think they’re myopic, for two reasons: 1. They’re missing so many consumers. 2. They’re missing good music that would be accepted by the audience with more effort. Think about the vaunted term “artist development.” The paradigm was established by Warner Brothers Records in the sixties and seventies. You signed an act to a five album deal, and then you let the act make all five albums. Today, artist development is pushing a single track, or an album, to the point where enough people know about it that the act can sell out an arena. It might take a couple of years, but it’s all based on the initial music. And that is sad, but one must also acknowledge that that is how hard it is to get a track known, even on the radio, where hits last longer than ever before, because otherwise listeners would be overwhelmed.

As for your feedback…

I used to call the people who sent me hate every day. I was always open and familiar, they were positively stunned, and they always backed down, well, until I hit a point about a decade ago where the script flipped, people just went wild on me, held their position, does it sound like today’s tribal world? You can’t get anybody to change their mind, they just dig in deeper.

And also back in the first decade of this century I hit back on a couple of people who were way over the line. They almost cried. They asked me why a big person like me would do that to them, criticize them. I don’t see myself as that big, but the person spewing such hate has such a thin skin?

And then I got to the point where I couldn’t respond to e-mail from anybody I didn’t know, because if I did…you never know where the land mines lie, 10% of the public is certifiably insane, but the problem is you don’t know which 10% it is!

And then there was that famous producer in England who regularly chided me from his high horse that I had to conform to his personal agenda. And when I blew back on him, having had enough after years, he freaked, he sent me a slew of e-mails, how could I do this? WHEN HE’D BEEN DOING IT TO ME FOR YEARS! He left my list, he literally e-mailed everybody he knew to tell them what a creep I was. And I didn’t really mind, I just reminded myself that you can’t respond, there’s no upside. AND THIS GUY PRODUCED LEGENDARY RECORDS!

And you wonder why people are so vitriolic today. On both sides of the offense. Those with an audience stole the gig from those without one. Twitter used to be filled with “rock critics” laughing about me and putting me down. Their audiences were always tiny, at best they were speaking to each other. Furthermore, they all had day jobs, and they weren’t laborers, their day jobs were careers, because that’s just how damn hard it is to make it, to have a full time job in the music industry. If someone is over forty and still working in the music business respect them, you’ve got no idea the hurdles they’ve jumped. Most worked for free at first, and their jobs have never been guaranteed, it’s all about relationships, they’ve hopped from company to company. Because it’s a game of musical chairs, people are lining up to work, even for free, in music, and therefore the employers always want the young ones who will work cheap around the clock, without families and obligations. If you keep your job, you’re really damn good.

And most people with a gig never participate on social media. Because they know it’s a hellhole, that if you give your honest opinion you run the risk of blowback so severe that you might end up on the verge of suicide. But it’s not only you, it’s kids in school. Were you ever bullied? Imagine that on steroids with social media!

And even Wall Street analyst Rich Greenfield had to turn his Twitter feed private. He said something the crowd didn’t agree with, didn’t want said and they blew up his feed, making it unusable, on purpose, so he could no longer post effectively.

That’s the world we live in.

But you, who are not even in the music business, you don’t want to hear any of it, you just want to pontificate without retribution.

And the funny thing here is…the end result is I’ll hear from fewer industry players as a result of this, the hoi polloi won’t get the message. Happens on a regular basis, a household name apologizes for sending me music. I don’t mind hearing from them, it’s getting music from everybody else that bugs me. How often have I gotten a track from an unknown that has impressed me, that I thought was great and could break through? NEVER EVER! These are the same people who used to mail their cassettes to major companies, which ended up in the slush pile, never listened to, but now multiply that by a zillion. The label is eager to work with proven entities. And in this case it means managers, lawyers and agents. They’ve been there before, they’ve proven their ability. Once again, now, more than ever, the act is just the cherry on top, the team has to be of a high quality to even have a chance. And then there are the metrics, the dreaded “data.” Yes, labels are interested if you have the numbers. Once again, too many people e-mailing me don’t have those. They want me to lift them out of the morass instead of sitting at home and figuring out what it takes to get traction. Even more important, I don’t have that power. And you need a sustained campaign. One article in “Rolling Stone” won’t bring you to the top, ultimately it will do nothing. I laugh when I see the sons and daughters of Hollywood icons getting articles about their music in the “Los Angeles Times.” That rag has a smaller reach than ever before, nearly insignificant when it comes to music. The seventies are history, the story has to be everywhere today to make any difference, and its spread must appear organic, if you read about something and then the Spotify streams or YouTube counts are low…people won’t even bother. Even youngsters check these out. If it’s so damn good, why isn’t anybody listening?

Which brings me back to my point. Even “Throw it Back” may not make it. At best, I can bring it to the attention of those with power. And everybody in the industry believes the track is a one listen smash and deserves the push. But it still might not happen.

That’s today’s music business.

And too many complaining are not in it.

You’ve got to fight for your right to party, and you’ve got to fight for your right to be in the music business. And if you’re a creator, it’s truly a battle. Which is why most people gravitate to social media, try and become influencers, you need little talent, to try to create a hit track..? You might as well ask these people to solve the problem of nuclear fusion. But given a keyboard, they’ll all tell you that you’re doing it wrong, you don’t know, that they know better, even though in truth their audience is nonexistent, their goal is just to drag everybody else down into the hole they’re in.

Comments are closed