By Hans Ebert
When the majors talk about the money they’re making from the streaming of music, they’re not lying. It’s more than a good soundbite. Where the real truth lies is that only around twelve of their most important artists with big back catalogues that continue to sell and are protected by armies of legal crossfire hurricanes share in the financial repast. And even though those golden days of these artists are spluttering to an end where even the Asian region which used to take in any touring act from the West are now saying, Thanks, but no thanks, there’s that association through name. It’s an attractive magnet for similar deals and ammunition for the future in case anything new might come up.
Where things are on hold right now is that the old business mantra of “It’s the economy, stupid” is baaaaack. Today’s consumer has a much greater choice of everything than ever before, and music is being pushed further and further back. It’s not important anymore.
Buying music is part of the past and attending a concert is no longer a Must Do.
Interesting out here was how quite recently there was no interest in a Robbie Williams tour of this region. Surprised? One forgets that Brand Robbie was already faltering a decade ago. Remember the flop that was the desperate “Rock DJ”?
Today, Robbie Williams is a nostalgia act without many nostalgic for him and his music. Let me entertain you? Er, no thanks. Plus the times he suddenly bailed on promoters due to “health reasons” meaning his concerts out here having to be cancelled have made him a liability.
Around the same time as The Robster tour of the region biting the dust, out went plans for a Joss Stone tour. That was a dumb idea anyway. Joss Stone has hardly had any hits. She doesn’t have enough hits to keep a concert audience interested to even think about attending. Personally, I love Joss Stone. She should have been huge.
Joss Stone had so much going for her. Or so we thought when she was introduced to some of us music executives when signed to S-Curve. She was then 15, she was pretty and white and girl from Leeds who sounded like the granddaughter of Irma Thomas. But that was the main hook as the debut record had no hits.
Joss Stone quickly disappeared, reappeared in another one of those Dave Stewart projects that included Mick Jagger, A.R Rahman, Damon Marley and the one-time Eurythmic, but which came and went in a super heavy mush of hype.
The Joss Stone story should be a movie and something to discuss another day.
Apart from her, some very big names have played in the region, but there’s been hardly a word about any of their performances other than a shrug of the shoulders. They’re irrelevant. They’re the past. They came and went without even an invite to dragon-i which shows their lack of drawing power.
It’s no secret that there’s just no interest anywhere in the world for concerts by two of the most popular female artists- but popular 3-4 years ago- with their PR people trying to keep their names in the public eye by feeding social media with back stories that these days are as meaningful as the constant tweeting from the Orange Julius in the White House.
So Taylor is not talking to Katy and Kanye is wondering what outrageous thing he can do next to keep his brand alive. So what? What happened to the Pharrell brand? And will i am. And Lorde? And Selena Gomes. Even Kendall Jenner. The list is endless. Add the Kardashians to it. But all these celebrities have made their money. They can afford to coast, but their egos won’t allow them to. Just like Nora Desmond, they’re craving for another close up from Mr DeMille.
As for the rest of us, we’re just uninterested. In everything. It’s only a personal thought, but I believe that the genie that escaped and falsely named “social media” has made us more isolated people. Time management has gone out the window along with the ability some of us once had to see through the games people play and which are now played by dullards in adult playgrounds like Twitter.
Along the way, we have lost our identity and even self worth which we now try to buy or boost or whatever le mot de jour is and believe this will accomplish something. No it won’t because there’s nothing real about any of it.
It’s like being hoodwinked that because you have a few of your songs on Spotify, the world is going to hear them. But how when it’s the wall to wall streaming of songs, but reduced to Muzak because listeners have no way of knowing who’s who. There’s no Disc Jockey or even an MTV VJ to be your guide.
Streaming is correct- a furious river overflowing with music but with nothing to promote the artist. Of course, this does not concern the music companies. They’re busy doing the whoopee dance because they’ve sold their entire catalogues to these music streaming sites.
Even after paying out the big artists because if not they’d get their asses sued, it’s a “business model” that can be repeated over and over again. So sign up every singer, band, songwriter, make that catalogue fatter, sign up some DJs to Remix everything that’s already there, bloviate that catalogue and sell it again as being something more.
It’s no different to once releasing a CD and re-releasing it with four crappy extra tracks and calling it a “Bonus CD”. We did it all the time. And it worked every time. It helped us make our numbers and keep our gigs. It wasn’t right but we didn’t think it was wrong and we never thought MySpace would be nothing more than a fad. We just wanted to get out there and have a damn good time with random nights out in London with easily impressed girls from Estonia and Lithuania.
Then, and particularly now, how does the unknown artist benefit from any of this? Who really knows? It’s the luck of the draw. It’s probably back to working to be seen as being popular by buying views on social media? And so it goes on.
It’s Joni Mitchell singing a new and creepy version of The Circle Game. But because we remember things the way they were, we’re either tied to the past, which means living in the past, but not seeing or refusing to see someway outta here and get away from The Joker and The Thief.
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Spotify, yes, even Netflix, they’re all the same IF you belong to the global creative community and make a living producing music, movies, art, whatever. For the casual visitor to these sites, it’s all about choice and flicking channels all day long. But is this really living and what do you have to show for it? A tweet “liked” by two people? That’s what you accomplished today? Wow.
Like the lost artist looking for some way outta here and finally realising that REAL success cannot be gauged by the “followers” one has bought, “engaging” online with strangers when real friends with who you can talk to and make things happen are only a WhatsApp call away is Stupid Is As Stupid Does. Someone has rearranged the grey matter.
The question is how many are so far down the road that they’ve lost all ability to make that important U-turn and, like Jo Jo, get back to where you once belonged instead of continuing in this monkey see, monkey do world and wondering why you’re stuck inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues again. And with the Sheeple.
#music #musicians #Spotity #Musicindustry #RobbieWilliams #JossStone #concerttours #socialmedia #life #musiccompanies