State of the music industry
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  1. #1
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    Default State of the music industry

    People say the music industry is collapsing, but I think it's "right sizing."

    I've been looking at the Billboard charts and record sales. It's amazing, Greta Van Fleet is on the radio, on TV, opening for Guns n' Roses in stadiums, and their songs have made the Top 5 on the Billboard rock chart. Despite all of this, their albums have yet to go gold in America! (They've got a Canadian gold, though.)

    As you track actual record sales today, an album can debut at #1, but may go on to only sell 60,000 units. Now Spotify and YouTube playlists count toward your chart status these days, so I don't get it. At the same time, I'm reading Bebe Rexha and Florida-Georgia Line's "Mean to Be" has been #1 on the country chart for 43 weeks, purely because it's on a lot of Spotify playlists with a lot of subscribers. Spotify and YouTube playlists hold the kind of power radio program directors once did. If you get on a Spotify playlist with 250,000 subscribers, Billboard counts that as 250,000 actual plays, which counts toward your chart status. Meanwhile Steven Tyler says Spotify is paying artists pennies per play.

    I think this all may be a good thing, though. The lure of glamour and easy money is disappearing, so maybe over time you'll have fewer hacks and more truly inspired artists making music. Things are going back to what they were. I've seen an interview where Bob Dylan said when he got into music, there was no real money in it. In the Sun Records era, the stars were touring in station wagons with the bass fiddle strapped to the hood. I think we're almost back to that point. Grass roots.

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    I'm sure the big shots are still cleaning up at the recording companies as usual.
    10-6-2020 RIP King of sixstrings.

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    I think counting Youtube views and Spotify plays is a good idea. The real goal is to find out what people are listening to after all....not "how many records are sold". When habits change, the measurement has to change too.

    I do wonder how Record Companies are finding ways to rip off artists today. Giving the artist 2% of the sales, forcing them to pay to promote the Record Company's product, and even charging the band for studio time to create the product they were going to sell were some of the most ridiculous things possible in the past. How could they get more absurd than that today?

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    The record industry used to be a good filter, where you had people on staff that
    listened to & understood music and were passionate about it.

    But, today, there's no filter.
    Any dumbass can record & release, and get likes based on the tween tastes
    of the moment.
    Graver, Walking Ed, refugee from CVH & proud tone chaser...

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    Quote Originally Posted by japeape View Post
    The record industry used to be a good filter, where you had people on staff that
    listened to & understood music and were passionate about it.

    But, today, there's no filter.
    Any dumbass can record & release, and get likes based on the tween tastes
    of the moment.
    In my mind, it's better this way.

    Now we don't have a "filter" preventing us from hearing music that we might love. Some guy in a suit used to make an arbitrary decision about what music the public "should hear". Supposedly they were smarter about music than the poor unwashed masses. i.e.....elitism.

    Who knows how many great bands went unheard because some guy in a suit decided they weren't worth hearing? It almost happened to VH don't forget. While the local kids were packing VH shows...that "filter" dismissed VH. Thank god one guy took a chance on them.

    Now anyone can be heard. If people don't like it, it goes nowhere. However, if people do like it, then any artist can be successful. If it's "tweens" then that's fine. We were all tweens too when we were buying VH records. Same with Elvis and the Beatles before us. The difference today is that tweens get to decide what they like for themselves.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Harpospoke View Post
    In my mind, it's better this way.

    Now we don't have a "filter" preventing us from hearing music that we might love. Some guy in a suit used to make an arbitrary decision about what music the public "should hear". Supposedly they were smarter about music than the poor unwashed masses. i.e.....elitism.

    Who knows how many great bands went unheard because some guy in a suit decided they weren't worth hearing? It almost happened to VH don't forget. While the local kids were packing VH shows...that "filter" dismissed VH. Thank god one guy took a chance on them.

    Now anyone can be heard. If people don't like it, it goes nowhere. However, if people do like it, then any artist can be successful. If it's "tweens" then that's fine. We were all tweens too when we were buying VH records. Same with Elvis and the Beatles before us. The difference today is that tweens get to decide what they like for themselves.
    I just feel like you don't hear Led Zeppelin's or Fleetwood Mac's, anymore.
    Steely Dan.

    The quality was much higher in the 60's, 70's, early 80's...
    Look at the charts from those times.
    People had better taste, as well.
    Graver, Walking Ed, refugee from CVH & proud tone chaser...

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    Quote Originally Posted by japeape View Post
    I just feel like you don't hear Led Zeppelin's or Fleetwood Mac's, anymore.
    Steely Dan.

    The quality was much higher in the 60's, 70's, early 80's...
    Look at the charts from those times.
    People had better taste, as well.
    I have no idea how you measure taste. Get a group of 100 people and have them rank music from each decade and see if you get any agreement. Would probably all be based on when they were born.

    I think the 60s sucked most of the time. Of course I love the 70s. But even then record companies were pushing disco hits out the door. The 80s featured record companies pumping out formula bands based on VH and formula pop music ala MJ and Madonna. The music video meant that looks and image were more important than ever...more important than the music really. Then suddenly the record companies decided everyone wanted to hear depressing rock music in the 90s and one female artist after another. What a coincidence, eh?

    I can't help wondering what that band who played at the same as VH would have sounded like if the masses had heard them? You know...the one with the fat bald guitar player? Although...it is show business so his looks would have held him back with the public too.

    I feel like today there is no "formula". I will give the 70s credit for there only being one Led Zep and Fleetwood Mac. I didn't hear 10 bands in a row that sounded like Fleedwood Mac in 1977. Instead, it would be followed by Foreigner,Queen, Boston, Eagles, Billy Joel, ELO, Chicago, ABBA, Paul McCartney, Atlanta Rhythm Section, Steve Miller, Styx, Heart, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Supertramp. (I actually went and looked at the 1977 charts! )

    So even then, you "didn't hear Led Zeps any more" because you only heard it from one band. I think we got back to that today because the record labels are not running everything. At one point in the 90s they were making bands use the same sounds on their guitars and drums....who knows what those bands of the time really sounded like?

    The labels had to go. They were an elitist cancer on creativity.

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    I should clarify I think measuring streams makes sense. What I don't get is how Greta Van Fleet can't have a gold album yet under this system, considering how much they're talked about and that a couple of their songs have been #1 on the rock chart.

    They're going to have to find a way to measure actual plays, though, not just if a song is on a playlist. The way it is now, the song charts get frozen because the record companies game the system by getting on these playlists, and only being on the list is measured, not whether people are actually listening.

    Quote Originally Posted by Harpospoke View Post
    I do wonder how Record Companies are finding ways to rip off artists today.
    Now that record companies aren't manufacturing and shipping a physical product, they take a portion of your live ticket sales and merchandising. "Do you think you would've sold those 5,000 tickets if we hadn't put our marketing budget and media contacts behind you? Pay up for us making you famous!"

    I miss the glamour a bit, though. Before my recent Nashville trip I had read that Ben Folds owned the old RCA Studio A. I took a bus tour, and the guide corrected that he didn't own it, he had leased it for a very long time, because it was in danger of being razed for condos! They also said Reba McEntire owned a studio there, and she used to helicopter in to record her vocals. Now she could do it in a walk-in closet at home, but it's not nearly as dramatic of an image.

    Quote Originally Posted by Harpospoke View Post
    In my mind, it's better this way.

    Now we don't have a "filter" preventing us from hearing music that we might love. Supposedly they were smarter about music than the poor unwashed masses. i.e.....elitism...It almost happened to VH don't forget. While the local kids were packing VH shows...that "filter" dismissed VH. Thank god one guy took a chance on them.
    I don't remember it in Greg Renoff's book, but I saw a panel with Ted Templeman, I think it was, where they said Herb Alpert (who co-founded A&M) had come to see them, and Alpert said Eddie's guitar playing was "too manic!" Kind of hard to believe Van Halen almost didn't make it because of an over-40 trumpet player.

    There was an excerpt from Sound City where Dave Grohl said it used to take $250,000 to record a record, and the gatekeepers made sure only the best got through. That sounds snobby for a punk rock guy, to me. Plus it fails to explain White Zombie and Zodiac Mindwarp.

    Quote Originally Posted by japeape View Post
    I just feel like you don't hear Led Zeppelin's or Fleetwood Mac's, anymore.
    Steely Dan.
    For some reason the later generations have lacked imagination. I always ponder that I've got more recording firepower in my desktop PC from Best Buy than Jimmy Page had at Olympic Studios, and I've download tons of freeware that can make more sounds with better fidelity than what he had access to. Then factor in there are music tutorials all over the place. But in Page's youth they were hearing everything from Jerry Lee Lewis to Harry Belafonte to Frank Sinatra on the radio, and that gave them a broader mind. If someone's influences are Metallica, Slayer and Dethklock, their music is going to be monochrome.

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    I guess i'm just old, but when i look at the charts from the 70's & 80's, there's
    diversity and talented people behind the diversity.

    Even the young Iron Maiden fan that i was in '82, could understand that Duran Duran
    came loaded with great songs: Rio, Save a prayer, Hungry like the wolf...

    They had the Justin Bieber looks for the young girls, but they backed it with
    actual songwriting talent.

    Today, it's like:

    Oh my God, he's cute, i love this song!
    Yo, he started on youtube!

    Before the labels became outright vultures, they had guys with good ears finding the talent,
    and giving those artists more than one album to blossom.
    Graver, Walking Ed, refugee from CVH & proud tone chaser...

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    my challenge these days is finding music I can identify with.

    I want hard rock, guitar-driven music that sounds somewhat modern.

    Greta Van Fleet is good, but sound a bit too LZ-esque for my tastes. A lot of what is labeled as "rock" is a little too pop for me, and it's not guitar-driven at all. When I search for Metal, I get cookie monster singers.

    I guess I'm looking for a 21st century VH, or GNR, in terms of what the music offers but with lyrical content mature enough for a 46 year old family man. I suppose if Don Henley and Yngwie Malmsteen cut a record together we'd be onto something, haha.

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    I want to be able to buy physical product and support bands I like. It is so difficult now.

    I totally avoid all that online download crap. I want the real thing I can hold in my hands. Do you download the liner notes too? How do you know who played on what or wrote the material? How do you even know what version you are getting? I remember in the Napster days a "Detroit Rock City" would be listed. First of all I want the full album, not select songs. Secondly, what version is it? Destroyer, ALIVE! II, Double Platinum, Killers or some other best of? So many inconsistencies with online crap. And artists can't live off Spotify and such. Gene Simmons used the example that his daughter had a song that got like 400,000 streams online, but only made like $280 or something.

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    I dunno...

    CD's, at this point, feel like 8 tracks.
    You can find anything you need to know online, liner notes.

    Just seems like buying a cow & milking it, as opposed to going to the supermarket.
    Graver, Walking Ed, refugee from CVH & proud tone chaser...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Naked Wake View Post
    A lot of what is labeled as "rock" is a little too pop for me, and it's not guitar-driven at all. When I search for Metal, I get cookie monster singers.
    Yep! When I check the Billboard rock chart to see what's going on now, I hear a band like Imagine Dragons that doesn't sound rock to me in the least. I don't even hear anything that sounds like Creed. Our definition of rock, as it was from 1968-1993, virtually doesn't exist.

    Quote Originally Posted by ChargerDave View Post
    I totally avoid all that online download crap. I want the real thing I can hold in my hands. Do you download the liner notes too? How do you know who played on what or wrote the material? How do you even know what version you are getting? I remember in the Napster days a "Detroit Rock City" would be listed. First of all I want the full album, not select songs. Secondly, what version is it? Destroyer, ALIVE! II, Double Platinum, Killers or some other best of? So many inconsistencies with online crap.
    Right! I usually check the Steve Hoffman Forum to make sure I'm getting the best-sounding version of an album, which usually means buying an `80's pressing. When they made the `80's CD's they took flat transfers of the vinyl versions of albums. With the streaming stuff, they're most likely going to use the remaster of the remaster, where everything has been digitally messed with: the volume peaks leveled out, extra high end added. Those are things most listeners are unaware of, they're sort of invisible, but can affect how you enjoy the music. I got the remaster of Number of the Beast and would feel like my ears were tired after four songs. Got an `80's copy of it -- much better! The original Zeppelin CD's have a more natural sound than any of the remasters, too.

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    Some of you guys and downloads are like that lone Japanese WWII soldier who refused to surrender and accept defeat decades later.

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    Quote Originally Posted by japeape View Post
    I dunno...

    CD's, at this point, feel like 8 tracks.
    You can find anything you need to know online, liner notes.

    Just seems like buying a cow & milking it, as opposed to going to the supermarket.
    Yeah. More power to ya if physical product is your preference. I haven't read a liner note since I was a teenager.

    I suppose if you never lost that childlike enthusiasm for music and discovering new artists then yeah...you're going to be old-school if you're a certain age but I let go of being an audiophile YEARS ago, so digital sounds just as good to me.

    I think THE most important factor for me is clutter. I have to be able to travel light. I get rid of shit. I can't hang onto stuff forever.

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