Earlier this evening I heard a wonderful song from a more innocent age, and it got me thinking…
The song is “Don’t Stop Believing” by “Journey” - recently murdered by the cast of Glee, among others. Listening to it reminded me of a post I wrote a couple of years ago about the state of the music industry - perhaps a reminder that the times of great writers and great songs are far, far behind us now.
The endless assault of talentless groups of singers who cannot play instruments and have never written a song reminds me of a poignant scene in the movie “Almost Famous” where Phillip Seymour Hoffmanplaying a reclusive writerwarns his young proteg that the writing is on the wall;
You CANNOT make friends with the rock stars. That’s what’s important. If you’re a rock journalistfirst, you will never get paid much. But you will get free records from the record company.
And they’ll buy you drinks, you’ll meet girls, they’ll try to fly you places for free, offer you drugs I know. It sounds great. But they are not your friends.
These are people who want you to write sanctimonious stories about the genius of the rock stars, and they will ruin rock and roll and strangle everything we love about it.
He was foretelling the world we now live inwhere the chief aim of the music industry is to manufacture a product, to exploit a demographic, and use every trick in the book to exploit you.
Music and lyrics are bought from professional writers.Instruments are played by session musicians. Voices are corrected by auto-tuners, and photographs aredigitally altered to raise the bar impossibly high for an impressionable youth. The music industry treats the listeners that feed it as criminals, using digital rights management to repeatedly remind us that we are only purchasing the right to listen.
Although painting a very bleak picture of the music industry here, I am of course only describing that which is happening to “pop music"the music being marketed to young teens through an all out assault across the mediatelevision, radio, movies, clothes, chocolate bars, cereal boxes.Real bands and artists do still exist. Coldplay, Snow Patrol, Nickelback, Keane, Travis, Badly Drawn Boy, Stereophonics, Killers, Kasabian perhaps the future of “pop music"ofour musicis safe in their hands.
It will be interesting to look back at the first decade of the 21st century in years to come, and see the full story of the music industry reaching it’s commercial zenith, and perhaps causing it’s own destruction.
The quiet resurgence of folk music in recent years might mean it has already started.