Friday, May 18, 2007

State of the Music Industry

Perhaps its not a shocking revelation, but like 95% of the gay men in this country, I LOVED Dreamgirls. And through the course of the film/show, you can't help but feel for Effie, whether played by Jennifer Hudson or the original Jennifer Holliday, who loses her chance at stardom despite a killer set of pipes... even after the feel good reunion at the end, there's just no doubt that girl got screwed.

Of course, the music industry has always been about marketing. There are countless talented musicians (and DJs) out there you've never heard of -- the industry, however, has always decided who you were going to listen to, what the look and sound would be, just like you'd market a bag of potato chips. The difference today is that, in my opinion, things are getting worse... much worse.

A recent article from examines this phenomenon with female singers. "The music is not about just music anymore, it's about the look, the 'it' factor if you will ... it's marketing," states an industry insider. While looks have always been a factor, in the past there was at least some room for performers with exceptional talent - Aretha, Mama Cass, hell, even Wilson Philips had Carnie. Not anymore. The future, it seems, is the Pussycat Dolls.

The Pussycat Dolls, with only one member (Nicole Scherzinger) who really sings, are really just a label controlled entity. As explained by Wikipedia, "Interscope lawyer Darryl Franklin said, during a panel discussion, that the contract with the group specifies that its members are salaried employees of the record label and, by design, interchangeable..." Yes, they're essentially a female boyband, although it seems like they're even a step below... PCD are essentially just a brand.

Again, it gets back to marketing -- and on one level, it would seem that they're doing a bang up job of it... or are they? As the RIAA is quick to point out, CD sales are plummeting. They'd like to blame it all on those evil people who are downloading music illegally... but studies suggest that file sharing has virtually no affect on music sales. Instead, let me posit another theory -- the music sucks. Yes, the music industry might be able to take one song and forcibly embed it into the nation's collective consciouness and sell millions of copies, but overall, they're turning out a crappy product and the proof is in the sales.

Now, people are deciding they only want to buy the tracks they want, instead of being forced to buy a full album in order to hear the 2 or 3 tracks they want to hear. Our current distribution system is on its last legs, I hope. I'm ready for it to die as soon as it possibly can.

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