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My brother showed this to me and I HAD to post it; it's ridiculous the amount of truth that lies within it, despite it being satire. For those of you born before 1995: I warn you....you WILL feel ancient and slightly ashamed after watching this. You'll also realize that even if MTV were to indeed be a music video station again, they wouldn't play the stuff we want to hear or see anyhow. I read a while back that part of the reason for the lack of video play on MTV is because research indicates people are more likely to watch commercials during reality programming than videos. Reality programming that everyone complains about, but still watches somehow. The commentary on budgets is also interesting. Music piracy has more of a murdering effect than I think most realize. Just check the clip out.
My latest Videoblog.
I said I would have an example of lazy music production, so here it is. The production team, StarGate, produced "With You" (Chris Brown) and "Irreplaceable" (Beyonce`). As you should be able to see in the following video, the tracks are VERY similar. Producers tweak a track JUST ENOUGH (i.e. speeding or slowing tempo, changing a chord, or adding an effect) to avoid complete duplication, but it's still obvious it's the same track. Also below is a comparison of the StarGate produced "Firework" (Katy Perry) and "Good Girl" (Alexis Jordan). SHAME.
Yet another blog were I talk about multiple semi-related things and hope it makes sense LOL.
I was reading a XXL magazine (hip-hop music) feature on Jay-Z (if you don’t like him, don’t stop reading- this post is about the music industry in general), and he said several things during his interview in relation to hip-hop that I thought could be applied to the music industry in general.
Gimmicks, Patterns, Formulas and Trends.
Jay was making the point that hip-hop has taken over mainstream music and culture and it runs the risk of losing its position to other genres as things have been become rather predictable and generic in terms of style and sound. “When a trend becomes a gimmick, it’s time to get rid of it…I saw everyone, because it was successful, following one path…We’re going to open the door for another genre of music. Same way when rock was doing hair metal, it opened the door even wider for hip-hop to come through and put rock in trouble for 10 years or more. Right now, a lot of indie bands are coming out, making rock more interesting...You keep messing around, making generic music, people are going to start turning off one at a time.”
This idea can be applied to the whole industry. In the music industry, it has long been a practice to massively reproduce any one thing that’s a success (i.e. a particular sound or trend like extreme auto-tune or blonde hair). It’s considered a smart business practice, but in regards to art, it makes things redundant. Over the last ten years, the “practice” has turned into religion: EVERYTHING is being recycled and reproduced. This is the reason why so many new artists aren’t lasting; they’re designed to deliver a recycled gimmick, make some quick money for the recording label, then disappear. This is reason why the same “heavyweight” artists don’t have any competition and continue to dominate. We as consumers have to get smarter to improve music. The record labels count on us being stupid enough to buy the same thing over and over, and unfortunately, we often are. For example, we already know that everything with auto-tune sold like hotcake. Or take the songs “Irreplaceable” (Beyonce`), “With You” (Chris Brown) and “Tattoo” (Jordin Sparks). All 3 have a very similar drum and acoustic guitar pattern (It’s no coincidence; they were all produced by Stargate. They changed the same track just enough for them to not be identical). All 3 songs sold like hotcake. We bought the same song THREE times. This “smart” business practice to recycle/reproduce will no longer be smart if we stop buying into it.
Aging in the Industry and Marketing.
In regards to marketing and being criticized for being a nearly 40 year old rapper Jay said: “I think people should make music as long as their heart is in it….If the target market is 15 to 25, that’s too narrow. What am I going to listen to at 26 and beyond? That’s a quarter of my life…We have to expand the genre. I would love to listen to hip-hop all day...everyone is speaking to the kids, thinking that’s the key to success…it’s the lack of growth that will keep us in certain place…you have those guys who are 35 years old trying to make “LOL smiley face”, competing with Soulja Boy.”
Again, his ideas are relevant to the entire music industry. Whatever the genre, once you turn 40, people treat you like you should disappear and stop putting out music. Music is an art and a form of expression. So, what, if you’re 40, you’re too old to express yourself? And if music is who you are, I guess you should stop being who you are. It’s disgusting how we discard artists after years of great music just because we think they’re too old to love music. A couple of different crappy things happen to you when you get older in the industry. If the record label keeps you around, they try to “update” your sound and make you “current” to compete with Soulja Boy (which just makes you look stupid). OR, if they let you keep your old sound, they barely promote you. You lose either way, because the audience ends up not buying your record.
Furthermore, in regards to the target market ALWAYS being 15 to 25, Jay is so right. What do you listen to at 26 when nothing relates to you? Why focus on one target audience? Focusing on one target audience is another practice that’s considered “smart”, but to me, it’s really stupid. Why milk one cow, when you can milk two (In this case getting money from more than one fan base)? Is the music industry A.D.D.? It seems as if currently, there is a pattern of doing one thing at a time. An artist will explore one genre at a time, target one fan base type at a time, either have an “artistic” album or a “commercial” album, or be JUST a great dancer or JUST a great singer. Yet, ironically, in order to have longevity, an artist must be multifaceted, multitalented and multitask.
The “one at a time” approach to marketing may make QUICK dollars for music execs, but it does nothing for the artist. It cuts their longevity short. For example, with focusing on just one fan base at a time, you alienate whoever you’re not focusing on. This will keep an artist from building a fan base that follows them long term. An artist will NEVER have the complete package doing one thing at a time, and therefore will get lost in the dust. But the record execs don’t care whether the artist lasts or not, even though the longer an artist lasts (and is successful), the longer they’ll make money for them. And yet, the execs are supposed to be the smart ones….
MUSIC SUCKS RIGHT NOW. What the hell can we do about it? We can be smarter consumers. It may SEEM like the execs run everything, but the truth is, we DRIVE the industry. We DICTATE the market. We ARE the market. What we buy helps them decide what products to create. For example, if we all bought ONLY oranges, fruit sellers would stop selling apples and only oranges. In music, if we ONLY bought Mariah Carey albums, then they would fashion all artists after her to try to get us to buy it. When it comes to purchasing music, only buy what you want to see more of.
#2, stop falling for the record execs’ games and gimmicks. Don’t be so shallow as to fall for someone with great looks, but doesn’t have a great voice. Don’t play into publicity stunts, gossip and hype. Stop listening to music that you feel is “just ok.” Don’t tolerate “just ok.” Raise the bar. Only buy what you think is “amazing.” Own your power as a consumer.
The 2009 BET Awards dedicated their entire show to the memory of the King of Pop, Michael Jackson, with tribute performances, special segments and a closing statement by Michael’s youngest sister, Janet. The next morning, many in media and forum were criticizing the show, saying that the tribute was lackluster and insufficient, among other things. I thought that any criticism of their tribute was unwarranted and ridiculous, considering they had to REFORMAT an ENTIRE show in 3 days. Some stations might have cancelled their award show, or just “sprinkled” mentions of Michael in. Brava, BET for of course caring enough to try your hardest and working with what you had to try to do him justice. Not to mention that they showed more tribute programming than MTV did in these last several days following Michael’s untimely death.
Surprisingly enough, the show was not somber. Channeling New Orleans memorial tradition, the mood was upbeat and a tender celebration of the memories Michael left us with. Host Jamie Foxx did an AMAZING job of showing respect to the legacy of Michael, having enough comedic twist that was not satirical of Jackson, but kept people laughing. The mood swiftly changed, however, when Janet Jackson appeared. Seemingly holding back tears, taking breath by breath, Janet gave a brief statement: “My entire family wanted to be here tonight…but it was just too painful, so they elected me to speak with all of you and I’m going to keep it very short. I’d just like to say that to you, Michael is an icon. To us, Michael is family, and he will forever live in all of our hearts. On behalf of my family and myself, thank you for all of your love. Thank you for all of your support. We miss him so much. Thank you so much.” With her father in the audience and a childhood photo of herself and Michael in the background, Janet bravely addressed the audience and the fans watching across the country. When I heard that Michael was gone, one of the 1st things that I thought was “God help this family. Everyone else is in their own grief right now, but nothing we feel compares to what this family is feeling. We lost our star, but there are children without a father, siblings without a brother, and a mother without her baby right now. Who cares what I feel…” I was glad to see Janet somewhat echo that sentiment and reminds us all that Michael, amidst all the magic, was indeed human, with a human family who was really grieving and we all just needed to take a step back for a second and acknowledge that. Following Janet’s speech, and thus closing the show was a piano performance of “I’ll Be There” by Jamie Foxx and Ne-Yo.
There were performances by…..let me see if I can remember…. Ciara, Jay-z, Ne-Yo, Keri Hilson, Maxwell, Beyonce`….Jamie Foxx (of course) …and……..yeah, I’m going to have to check out the performers list to remember the rest, which is telling. I watched this award show with several of my friends and family, and the talent, or lack thereof, started a really interesting conversation about the state of the music industry today. I was making the argument that in current mainstream pop and R&B there are TOO MANY MEDIOCRE artists. Artists that are “just ok”, lack versatility, lack substance, and are talented in only one or two areas instead of many. One of the women in the room said that today’s artists are not “masters of their craft” and you don’t get a sense from them that they are “striving for excellence or growth.” One of the people my age responded to that by saying “well, this person isn’t supposed to be a “singer”, they’re just a dancer.” They’re not supposed to be a GREAT performer.” I sat back in awe of that comment. When in the heck did we just start ACCEPTING this ish?
Throughout the night, they defended poor live performances with statements like “His song DOES lack substance, but it’s not supposed to be deep. I mean, sure, it would be nice if her voice was stronger and his song had a real meaning. I would definitely like it better if we had more strong performers in music, but that’s just how it is right now.”
WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU?? This is the music of OUR generation- the music they will DEFINE US by when we’re older. This is the stuff that will go on compilation albums in future decades. If you don’t really like it, and you know it could be better (hence the “better if we had more strong performers”) why are you buying it? The music industry is oversaturated with mediocrity because YOU (the consumer) keep supporting and buying it. Yes, the industry bigwigs and execs are the ones puttin’ the music out, but they’re only putting b.s. music out because people keep buying it.
With statements like “that’s just how it is”, my friends left me with the impression that they feel the market is something they have no influence over. We have more control as consumers than we think. With the recording industry, the power is split down the middle between the consumers and the bigwigs. If we stop buying this B.S. they’ll stop selling it. If we buy only from the Robin Thicke’s, the Alicia Keys’ , the Common’s, The Pink’s, the Paramore’s, the John Mayer’s, or whoever you like, the b.s. will reduce. B.S. will ALWAYS exist, but the key is to REDUCE it. It’s okay to have a Britney Spears type artist here and there, but there are way too many in the room right now. During our parents’ generation, EVERY OTHER artist was a consummate performer. It kinda went something like this: Beatles, then mediocre artist, The Jackson 5, then mediocre artist, Rolling Stones, mediocre artist, Tina Turner, mediocre artist, so forth and so on. Now, it’s like Alicia Keys, 7 mediocre artists, Coldplay, 7 mediocre artists, etc. NOT ACCEPTABLE. I’m encouraging and challenging you guys to care about the art of music (which you claim to care about) long enough to stop supporting the ringtone rap, the fruitless pop, and the soul-less R&B, so we can take back OUR music. I want something to pass on to my children, like my parents passed on Sam Cooke to me.
I’m tired of the b.s.
And don’t tell me to dig up neo-soul, Christian contemporary, or some other alternative genre. I’ve had people suggest that and say “well, you must not want to hear “real” music bad enough then, if you don’t want to get in to neo-soul.” BULL CRAP! Why should I have to change genres? I don’t like neo-soul (at least not all of it). I like pop and R&B (I’m pretty eclectic, but those are the genres I listen to the most) and I want good pop and R&B to listen to! I am determined to have the big wigs listen to me because after all, they don’t have an industry without money and they don’t have money without me (the consumer). It’s time you start catering to me, Clive Davis. TAKE BACK YOUR MUSIC CONSUMERS!