Why music has lost its charms

(Above) Bob Seger in 1977 (Wikimedia Commons).

The world’s playlist today is mostly made up of music that was composed decades ago. Yesterday, so to speak. We can all wonder if my generation’s music is better than yours, but there’s no doubt that corporations have stifled creativity.

12-Jul-22 – I’ve always believed that good music has its own magic. It can inspire and excite. He can bridge the gaps and unite. And that can comfort and console. Within minutes, music quickly takes us somewhere else for a while and it can stay with us for a lifetime. Magical music never leaves the memory.

Music is a mystical means of transportation, whether you’re in the car, sitting in your room, or on the roof – and way back in my life, it was unavoidable. Virtually every week there was a new song or a new album, a new singer or band, or a new movie with a killer soundtrack with tunes we couldn’t stop singing along to. Music factories in New York, LA, Nashville and Motown were constantly churning out hits, and A&R guys were prowling the country in an endless search for new talent.

But that was then. Today, there is less and less new music funded and produced commercially and, more importantly, the world seems to be primarily interested in listening to “oldies but goodies”. Cloud-connected streaming services and listening devices have given us levels of detail and precision never before available, revealing that most of the music that matters these days – over 70% of what is streamed for example – is “old” . Whether it’s a nostalgic search for comfort and safety or simply a desire for meaningful, intelligible and non-obscene lyrics, the fact is that an ever-increasing number of consumers of all ages are listening almost exclusively early music (catalogin the lingo) rather than current hardware.

One reason for sure is that a lot of “new” music is just more of the same “hit it and forget it” junk, which is both a disappointing and scary phenomenon. These are not the instant classics of our youth. As Bob Seger would say, today’s music just doesn’t have the same old soul. Screaming and swearing about loot and bling, guns and gangbangers, isn’t quite the same level of storytelling we always love to listen to. James Taylor, Stevie Wonder, Jackson Brown, Otis Reddingor the Eagles.

Creativity is definitely one of the main reasons why most of today’s tracks don’t have the same staying power as previous hits. by Paul McCartney solo masterpiece, Yesterday, has been offered over 3,000 times since its release in 1965 and played over seven million times. I have to wonder how many people will cover WAPespecially once all the stupid suburban liberal parents figure out what kind of lyrics their teenage kids are TikTok-ing and twerking at.

(Left) Paul McCartney arrives at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport in 1980. Photo obtained from Wikimedia Commons. Click on the image to enlarge.

You can usually tell pretty easily which sounds suck, but no one really knows (apologies to Clive Davis) which makes it a lifetime hit until customers decide. As we said on Tunes.com [Tullman was Chairman and CEO of Tunes.com], there’s a fine line between a single and a jingle and taste doesn’t matter. We know for sure that the song doesn’t have to be fancy, flawless or trendy. It doesn’t have to be sung by a star, be the theme of a big movie, or be the climax of an 11 p.m. Broadway play.

And the fact that a song was initially immensely popular for a fleeting moment and readily available and accessible (i.e. commercial and “just” for radio) does not mean that its lifespan is assured or diminished. . by Carole King excellent high end It’s too late started out as the B-side of I feel the earth movewho never even plotted.

Music industry veterans like to blame technology for their problems. Digital music files (MP3s) have dramatically lowered the bar for what passed for acceptable sound. Consumers sacrificed audio quality for compression and portability and never really looked back. Nobody complains about vinyl these days, so people have stopped paying attention to – and paying for – the expensive niceties of quality production. Other technologies like the old Napster made music “free” – albeit stolen – and provided digital or pirated versions of the most popular hits that you could easily share with your friends, even if listening to a song on loudspeakers. computer speakers sounded a lot like taking a bath with your socks on.

The reality today is that the music industry makes money from anything other than music, if it makes money at all. Concert tickets, touring revenue, product ties and licenses, and loot at all events are the real sources of money. The corporate suits and conglomerate clowns who came to own and operate major music companies were not only musically deaf and dumb, but they were also greedy, lazy and unwilling to change.

Learn from music industry mistakes

The music industry has always been business first and music second, but the industry didn’t really care about either for many years. Music managers have made three main mistakes, which are just as likely to cause problems in your business if you’re not careful.

First of all, much like the film industry – with its franchises and landmark films – labels have constantly pushed talent for more and more of the same. Seeking to build on (and repeat) their past successes and sales, they didn’t want to see anything edgy, challenging or different, as they were perfectly content to rest on their past laurels and glories and sell products derivatives, concert tickets and fantasy. cabinets of the same old material. They were stuck in a short-term prosperous past, but by failing to grow and invest in new formats, styles or talent, they were mortgaging their future prospects. The moral of this story is simple: the world never waits for you and if you are not ready to change, it will pass you by. Change before you no longer have a choice.

Second, the big bosses were completely risk averse and unwilling to invest in anything other than the very safe thing that their current music catalog represented. New delivery methods, new production technologies, new channels to reach their users were all available, but none of the traditional old line players stepped in. Instead, they left the field open to Apple and other technology companies to develop new, innovative and attractive solutions. The demands and desires of each consumer in each area have a unique characteristic: they are progressive and the customer always asks for more. Standing still is the best way to be left behind. You can change or you can die.

(Right) James Taylor at Tanglewood, a concert hall in western Massachusetts, in 2008. Photo by Paul Keleher (Wikimedia Commons).

Photo by Paul Keleher (Wikimedia Commons)

And finally, with the emergence of streaming and fixed algorithmic systems for radio playback, the industry’s bean counters discovered a fundamental truth: they were paid exactly the same amount per song, whether the song was brand new or 50 years old. They quickly concluded that if their customers (stations and streamers) were indifferent to the age of the content and end users were genuinely looking for the older music, there was little to no reason to rock the boat and push for new material. Investing in new talent turned out to be an additional cost they chose to avoid.

But even the best, oldest wines eventually age, and right now there aren’t many new shoots to fill the pipeline. What’s interesting is that the new music business is taking place away from the big labels, and frankly, trying to avoid having anything to do with them. Things aren’t going to get better anytime soon.

Change is always expensive, whether you pay upfront to make the necessary changes or pay later for not making the changes in a timely manner. But it is also inevitable and a certainty. The music itself will never go away, but I wouldn’t bet a dime on the likely long-term survival of major record companies.

Contentment is the mother of invention.

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