They hailed it as the Great rock’n’roll dwindle, the music press investigated the disappearance of music fans in the last 2-3 years. This time it wasn’t some fad or the next big thing dreamed up by some post-graduate music hack high on ego. This time it was an article that warranted big media coverage – News at Ten ran a piece & even Newsnight, Jeremy Paxman’s political penis extension on BBC2 hosted a debate on the dramatic decline in CD, record & concert ticket sales.
They blamed the internet – kids are interested in the cyber world now rather than spinning discs. That’s funny, I’m sitting here at my PC in cyberworld, but I’m still listening to music (Nine Inch Nails).
Alan McGhee, the money bags behind Creation Records was quick to point out that record companies will be a thing of the past & we’ll all be downloading our music direct from the bands on the internet, paying by credit card.
This sounds great – but it hasn’t happened yet & doesn’t account for the fact that you no longer need to sell tens of thousands of CDs to hit the charts. Hell, the Sons of Selina, a lazy, very underground outfit who rarely seek or get media attention sold a mere 4,000 copies of our 1st album Nour d’Oui – had we sold those 4000 in the 1st week it would have made us a top 30 band in the album chart. The champagne corks would’ve been popping in a false celebratory sense of financial achievement, whereas in reality the financial benefits for such sales are negligible for the songwriters & zilch for the record company. That’s why so many bands are being dropped.
The NME launched the great investigation into why music & ticket sales had been whittling away. They need not have left the office, the answer was right there in the back issues of their own publication. The NME are the A&R men for the music business & every week countless crap bands are getting signed up, over hyped & pushed onto the public all because one spotty hack with crap tastes in music fancies the bass guitarist.
It’s like going into the supermarket to buy toilet roll, there’s 4 aisles with 50 different brands & colours to choose from. Which one do you buy? After all you’re only going to wipe your arse on them, which is what you’ll do to most of your CD collection once you’ve realised that the majority of the content is 2 dimensional unimaginitive crap that sounds like a copy of the last one you overpaid for.
Bands aren’t signed up willy-nilly, but nowadays they’ll get a deal on the premise of one song – albeit a good song & it’ll probably be a big 2 weeks in the chart hit. But the long term potential is never a factor, mainly because the band have none.
Disposable pop? It used to be the 3 minute pop song, now it’s the 3 minute pop band. They say that every musician has at least one decent song inside them & the record industry are determined to get everyone.
Ten years ago Welsh contemporary music was as laughable as Welsh football. Only the Anhrefn movement showed any promise. It was easy for a Welsh band to get media coverage in Wales. You formed a band, gave yourself a Welsh name, write a song in Welsh (don’t worry about the tune it doesn’t matter), & within a week you were on S4C. It was a joke, only no one was laughing. Thankfully all that is changing as Wales is producing some excellent bands, but the tide has turned & it’s now the English boy & girl bands that are on TV & in the music press within a week of forming.
So the great rock’n’roll dwindle as the NME so quaintly called it is actually partly their fault. They are the architects of this musical ruin, is it any wonder record companies are dropping signed acts in their droves? Having read the music press & signed up a potential white swan it didn’t take long to realise is was only one hack & a Radio One DJ with business interests at heart, who were the avid fans, & the record (not) buying public recognised the act for the ugly duckling that they really were.
Looking at the string of festival cancellations across last summer due to poor ticket sales was it any wonder? It doesn’t take a Jeremy Paxman to realise that one span across the live ads in the music press saw a contrite line up of bands with very few ‘big’ names. Too many festivals with little line up variation & too expensive.
Who was the pillock that thought the Lightning Seeds are a stadium band & would sell 25,000 overpriced tickets on the back of a rehashed 3 year old song & a shortened England world cup run? OK so the Lightning Seeds have written some nice pop songs that you’ll hear on Radio 2 in 10 years’ time, but it’s hardly Shea Stadium material.
So Alan McGhee is right – the record company as we know it is going to be a thing of the past, where does this leave the future of rock n’roll? If the cyberworld prediction becomes true then the already diminishing quality of tunes will disappear underneath quantity of availability as everyone & their dog posts up their masterpieces on the net, as far as I’m concerned I think it’s a great idea as I love collecting crap. The bands can have total control but the best thing of all is there’ll be no more record company exec with his bald head & ponytail getting his nose filled with white powder at your expense.