I've been contemplating writing this for a pretty long time, all the while thinking that there's no point in doing so because nothing is going to change anytime soon. But, maybe if enough musicians/artists voice their opinions on such issues, even a small handful of fans/listeners/consumers will start changing their ways and opening their eyes. Just maybe.
I'm in a band called The Cast Before the Break. I know, I know. Who the fuck are we? I tell you this not for a shameless plug, but rather a frame of reference. A show-you-where-I'm-coming-from sort of thing. I don't consider our music all that 'accessible' in terms of music today, which makes it even less likely for us to establish ourselves in the industry. This may sound a bit cynical for a 21 year old, but we're all fucked. From an independent musicians standpoint, of course.
The bottom line is, all you need is a song and/or a story anymore. Hardly anybody cares about an album or a movement. You write one song, it catches on across the airwaves and boom. You're set. Well, I'm not impressed. At this point in time, anybody anywhere can write a 'good' song, no matter how much he/she knows about writing music or playing instruments. The computer has become the fourth or fifth or sixth member of a lot of artists out there, and it's garbage. Music consumers have completely forgotten what a human voice sounds like, because we're inundated with overly auto-tuned garbage. Platinum recording artists actually being able to sing? Pffffft. I have my doubts. All that matters is that you have the right image. And it's bullshit. Not music.
As tough as the music industry is to break into, it's almost easier than ever nowadays. Fire up GarageBand, click and drag, click and drag, upload to Myspace and BAM. You could be the next Brokencyde. Talent? Who needs it! Set aside the 2 grand that you're planning to spend on a top-of-the-line amplifier and go buy an awesome pair of sunglasses and some bright clothes.
I'm not trying to sound jaded, but there was a time not too long ago when pop-rock had its shit straight. I remember hearing songs on the radio (back when I still even listened to it) and picking up the respective albums and loving every track. It's all based on singles now. You want to find a GOOD pop-rock record? Go listen to the Audrye Sessions disc. Those guys are fucking talented as hell, and the dude can write one hell of a melody. I'm serious - fuck these one hit wonders (if you can even call them that) hiding behind technology and bad attitudes. And if you're like me and always trying to find something new and truly artistic in the purest form of the word, then go listen to Bon Iver (if you haven't already done so). Justin Vernon is currently the saving grace of music. He cannot write a bad song, and hopefully someday the music-consuming public realizes that everything he touches is gold.
Anyways, I'm not trying to preach to you what to listen to. For those of you that have heard either of those two, completely different artists, I think you'll understand my point, which won't nearly as much clout as the well-versed articles of Trent Reznor or Butch Walker. But, as I said, maybe if enough of us speak up, heads will start turning, and people will start questioning what's truly legit anymore. Because 99% of what you see and hear out there isn't.
For the young artists out there, I can't say it any better than Mr. Reznor did recently: Give your music away. To anybody and everybody. Consumers are stupid. But, if you offer them something free, they'll take it. They'll remember it, and they'll listen to it. And maybe if we're lucky, they'll come to the next show and say hi. Because at the end of the day, if they thought enough of you and your music to make that effort in today's economy, that's all that matters, and it's one step in the right direction.
Speak up, and let's start turning heads.
The music industry is already fucked, but the artform itself isn't.