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Editorial: What Ever Happened To The Future Of Music?


11/03/06
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(Guest editorial from Robert Kramer) As an "over-40" independent musician/composer and recording artist, it has concerned me for a long time that there seems to be very little new "popular" rock and pop music being released that appeals to the over-40 group.

In addition, much of the music being pushed today is dark, brooding,and depressing, filled with images of violence and anger. Positive human emotions and character are seen as weaknesses, while anger, violence and lack of compassion are promoted in todays music and videos as signs of strength and virility.

Music has ceased to be "fun". Much of it is loaded with "manufactured angst", and despite wonderful advances in digital recording techniques, the overall quality of songwriting and the performance of music itself has steadily declined.

There are no more "memorable melodies", tunes you can hum or dance to, or songs that just make you feel good when you hear them. Remember how music "used" to make you feel? Songs you sang along to on the car radio, music you put on in the background because you liked the atmosphere it gave to a room or the feeling it caused when you listened to it?

What ever happened to music like that?

Considering the choices the major record labels have been offering the public in the last decade, it's no wonder they're crying that album sales are down. Despite opinions that illegal downloading is the main cause of their financial woes, maybe album sales are down simply because the music is BAD, and people have responded to it by just not buying.

I've always said that if you give the public a choice between ten different types of garbage, garbage is all they can pick from.

According to author Bill Geist in his book, "The Big 5-0", he calculates that there will be over 4,000,000 baby boomers who will turn 50 this year. The boomers are rapidly becoming an increasingly large demographic from a music marketing standpoint. A demographic the music industry has neglected to pay attention to in the last decade, forcing those who remember good songs with memorable melodies to constantly chew the nostalgia cud of having only the "golden oldies" to listen to, with little or no new product to refresh their senses or stimulate their hunger to want to buy new music.

There's a reason why those songs the boomers remember became "golden oldies". They were good songs, with memorable melodies, well-written and well-performed by artists that knew how to write a catchy tune.

Creativity of that level seems to be discouraged by the record labels, who seem content on only pushing metal, hip-hop, and computer-generated pop-trash to todays' youth culture; a culture that has clearly demonstrated that you become what you think about.

Talent and creativeness have been replaced by arrogant volume and aggressiveness. Positive warm human emotions and kindness have been replaced by attitude and anger in a youth culture that has little idea what they're so angry about.

It remains to be seen if, in a fit of marketing genius, the music industry will pick up the ball they dropped so many years ago, and expand their thinking enough to acknowledge that there might STILL be good music out there people are hungry to hear, and buy. And not just for the baby boomer generation. Most of this "new rock" is still hidden in the indie music community, where musicians work with little or no budget, hawking their wares as they can to small groups of people who attend their local concerts.

These indie musicians can't afford large marketing and promotional budgets to buy radio, tv and print ads, or the payola payoffs to the (insert a knowing wink here)"record promotion companies" to get airplay, who are really just hired guns of the major record labels trying to monopolize the airwaves.

The big crackdown on major label payola by attorney general Elliott Spitzer last year that ended up issuing millions of dollars in fines to music companies like Sony and Universal did little to stem the radio airwave monopoly. It simply acknowledged what everyone in the industry has known for a very long time, but no one has the guts to admit - major labels have to PAY to get their artists' low quality music on the air, and typically fudge sales figures to make it appear their current "big stars" are in fact, big, when quite the opposite is true.

The truth of the whole matter comes down to one fact. People are just tired of poor quality music that depresses them. It's time the indie music community responded by staying the course, forget about getting "the major label deal", and take their music directly to the people thru live music performances and local marketing of their product.

Thru internet resources such as CDBABY, indie musicians can now have online sales and mp3 download services. In addition, they now offer indie musicians the opportunity at real brick and mortar physical distribution in record stores and other retail establishments.

It is time for new music that can shed light into peoples lives again. People are ready for music, real music, to make a comeback. Support your local indie musician.

That's the true future of music.

Check out Robert's music at http://www.dimensiononerecords.com/

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