Reading the rather confusing piece above in Rolling Stone about parts of Asia being new markets for some artists from the West and mentioning the recent success (on Spotify) in the Philippines of a singer-songwriter from Denmark named Maximillian and his song “Beautiful Scars” had me thinking.
It made me think just how much the music world has changed so quickly and in every possible way. I also wondered if I had gone back in time with Doc to the early 2000’s when making that tough call to leave the behemoth that was Universal Music Asia and join the struggling Regional Office of EMI Music in the as Executive Director.
There’s old fashioned, there’s new fashioned, and then there’s just flailing about hoping like hell no one will see the truth- how that despite all the smokescreens, algorithms and views and followers, there’s nothing there.
It’s no different to what’s being played out for far greater stakes in the minds of the Donald and his enablers taking advantage of someone who has completely lost his marbles. While he’s bunkered down and going through terminal Loser Denial, his team has planted so many seeds of doubt into minds that nothing any side says or does is no longer believable.
CNN, Fox News, Spotify numbers, YouTube views, Facebook “likes”, Instagram numbers, Rolling Stone reportage, the Washington Post etc etc, nothing adds up.
There’s not much to show for it, is there? There never is when there’s no substance to anything being done- and done for reasons that are from Rue Shallowness.
It’s like much of the sounds being made today- and those responsible for churning out these fatuous sausages sold with hundreds of hashtags and aided and abetted by “followers” and “likes” purchased for a price. Is this a good business model? Will it show a return on investment?
Music is something very subjective. It has to be. It’s something personal. And maybe this Instagram “version” of the art form mentioned above is right for these times. Maybe. Maybe it’s escapism from having to deal with the harsh realities of life.
The pursuit to perpetuate success online has reached such pandemic proportions that nothing is real. This means there’s so much for businesses to get hung up about as numbers given to them as being real are lies.
The numbers are all too often fabricated. Why? Because everyone else is doing the same dance. It’s not only those purchasing “likes” from Bot World Followers Anonymous and trying desperately to be seen as “dope”, especially in a music world that’s lost all direction of home.
The last time I teared up – actually cried- was watching the Carpool Karaoke segment on The Late Late Show where host James Corden drives Paul McCartney around where he once lived in Liverpool.
Watching all this, ironically enough, had a John Lennon song playing in my head- “In My Life”. The intercuts, however, were all Paul- pretty much the Days In His Life, and one which could belong to those of us who have grown up, down, sideways and gone to the bottom to get back to the top with his music. And what a songbook it is- “For No One”, “Lady Madonna”, “Golden Slumbers”, “Blackbird”, “Maybe I’m Amazed”, “You Never Give Me Your Money” and then all the REALLY big hits.
There were the Beatles, there are the solo albums and how all these individual recordings related to their personal lives then and still does today. It’s how we got to know them. Or, at least, thought we did.
Everyone who writes songs writes for different reasons and writes differently. The process, especially, is something very personal.
For myself, it’s almost always a musical journey starting with a blank canvas and a vague idea of what I want to say and where I wanna go. The days of trying to write a hit song are gone. If it happens, it happens.
This song- “Wanna Go Back”- was about the Hong Kong I knew and where the city is today. It’s snapshots of memories.
“We used to listen to music and decide whether we liked what we heard or not. Then came the music video and viewers- I wouldn’t really call them music fans- decided that they liked what they saw and this opened a new door for selling music. This was a good and bad thing”.
It was a now-retired senior music executive I have always respected talking to me about where he feels music is now- and where it might be heading.
It wasn’t a broken sleep. It was a deep sleep but with no warning signs for detours into where one should not go. Even if there were…Somehow though you get there because someone else is doing the steering and you end up going into some very dark places in your mind that you never thought existed. It’s not unlike checking into Hotel California and being held hostage until the ransom is paid.
Don’t know about the new normal, but this is like the new acid- a different type of LSD that feeds your head with everything and nothing, but which never provides any answers.
In this locked down, upside down pineapple fruitcake world where many of us are trying to make some sense of things going around, sleep is one of the only sanctuaries left to get away from it all. But, this is done with trepidation as going to sleep can often take you to a dreamland made in hell. Reality and the unreality of it all clash.
Those who know me- really know me- know that I kept well away from what is known as social media. I had no use for it.
When with two different music companies, I had seen, first hand, this social media morphing into something eerily similar to the man eating plant in “Little Shop Of Horrors” ordering Seymour to feed him.
This was after the digital world starting life fairly innocently as MySpace and the illegal music file sharing site that was Napster.
There’s often the feeling that musicians go so way out on a limb to make their music different that they end up some place that even they don’t recognise.
If it’s a band or artist known for always trying to create brave new worlds, when listening to their music in 2020, there’s often the feeling that they might have lost direction of home in recent years. But with fans being fans and not knowing what to think of this new music, it’s accepted without question. Loyalty can be a curse.