Since a recent television network, who I refuse to name and will simply call them Voldemort (the letters are all there), aired their “awards” show. I wanted to take a moment to reflect on a few things and make a plea to your good senses.
First, if you want to know exactly what is wrong with music today and why we have no real musicians and artists that have careers that last like The Rolling Stones anymore, point the finger to Voldemort. No, they haven’t single handedly destroyed music, but they damn well lit the fuse. That network took a brilliant creative outlet, the music video, and focused on sensationalizing every aspect of it. As the saying goes, sex sells, so who needs substance?
It began with Dial Voldemort back in the day. A simple request show similar to what a radio station still does today. That eventually evolved into TRL or Total Request Live. Artists like Britney Spears, (Sorry Brit for using you as an example) were pushed into heavy rotation. Why? Well, because teenage girls wanted to look like her and
teenage boys most every horny man on the planet wanted to be with her. Do you really think that school girl outfit in “Hit Me Baby, One More Time” was an accident? Think again if you said yes.
TRL was a show that came on right as teenagers came home from school. They put the power of immature children in control essentially. What did it do for them? It made them millions upon millions of dollars in advertising. What did it do for music? It showed the business suits at radio and at record labels that parents would cater to and purchase this music to make their children feel happy. In turn, that power created by TRL reached much further than they could have ever imagined.
What else did TRL do for music and the industry? Well, I’ll tell ya. The industry began introducing singles to capitalize on those children. They figured they’d get $3 for a cd single a couple times, then the kids would eventually want the whole album and they’d make even more money per customer. Plain old greed. Tearing away the continuity of what an artist feels in a specific time of their life is like asking a great painter to paint with only a toothpick. Sure, it can be done, but think of what you could have had with 100 different brushes to choose from. An artist needs to grow. They need to explore their boundaries and push them as far as they can go. If you no longer sign bands to a developmental record deal, you’ll never see just how far and how great they can be. It’s like the industry said, “Oh wait, never mind. Just find a pretty face and we’ll hire songwriters. We have a formula that seems to be working!”
With that, the art of the album was completely destroyed. Not immediately mind you, but with the advancement of technology came iTunes and that is what cheapened music into something that kids eventually saw as disposable. Their thoughts became, “I only want one song, it’s just 99 cents. They’ll never miss that dollar. Plus, the artist wouldn’t see any of that anyways. I’ll just
steal download it.” That’s another can of worms there. Stealing versus downloading. A simple change in the description of an action changed the world. Downloading, as a word, has no moral attachment. Stealing isn’t cool. No one wants to be known as a thief!! Let me give you an example, roll your eyes if you want on this one, but it’s a perfect example. Up to this point, Skillet is the only platinum selling mainstream rock band this year. Although I’m sure the cult like following that Avenged Sevenfold has, will eventually push their new album there and change that this week. Why is that? Skillet is a Christian band. Most of their fans have Christian morals and purchase music because they feel a moral obligation to not steal. Of course there are exceptions, I’m not stupid. I’m simply making a point here. These kids, (you remember those immature people now in charge) did not and still do not see downloading as stealing. Why? Because they have little to no concept of money and you put them in charge Voldemort. You watered down the very product that kept you in business. You essentially shot yourself in the foot.
What has the industry done to stop the bleeding? Not much. I’m not sure what can be done to be honest. No one is sure. That’s the problem. Perhaps technology catches up at some point. Who knows?
What has Voldemort done? They created a Shock Super Bowl to sell high dollar ads on. Let me explain. Since it’s inception, Voldemort’s Music Award show has set out to be shocking. Each year they want something new that topped last year. Must see TV! Think of Madonna in a wedding dress writhing around to her song “Like A Virgin“. Britney and Madonna’a kiss. Lady Gaga’s meat dress. Every year, it’s something that people are pushed or force fed into talking about. If you don’t think advertisers take notice, you’re crazy. Ads are certainly priced accordingly to the amount of viewers, so in all honesty the event is their cash cow. It’s not about “honoring” anyone. Which is why I am proud to say that I haven’t watched ANYTHING on the Voldemort channel in over 10 years. You’re thinking, “you knew about that stuff, you had to watch.” Wrong. Mainstream media, who also sells ads based on the amount of viewers and or readers, picks up the baton and grabs their own money from the Shock Super Bowl. You are force fed this watered down, backing track layered, generic music that features a surgically altered pretty face, or former child star, or meat dress, or whatever it may be they need to make money. What happens next year? Someone has sex on the back of an elephant and gets pregnant on “live” TV? When is enough, enough?
My plea is simple here; stop buying into the hype and making them money on subpar music. As ugly as Lynyrd Skynyrd (sorry guys) were back in the day, if Voldemort had been around, NO ONE would have ever seen them, or ultimately heard them either. Overlook the garbage you’re being fed and find real music. With real musicians. Real emotions. Find a song or an artist that connects with your very soul, not your wallet.
If you’d like a few suggestions, we recently compiled a list of the Rocker’s Dozen. Thirteen bands carrying the torch of rock and roll, feel free to check that out here.