Thursday, May 8, 2014

Irony, Inconsistency, And Other Assorted Bullshit...


      Me back in 1981
                                                 Me today, 2014

A few years ago, I saw this video – it’s Joshua Bell, world class violinist, playing in a subway station: .  What I gathered from it was that most people will not recognize real talent, real art, or much of any real anything – without the expensive hype that is used to trick people into buying something that they otherwise wouldn’t, and most of the time, wouldn’t need.  Albert Einstein also pointed this out when he said, “Few are those who see with their own eyes, and feel with their own hearts”.  It’s very sad that this is what humans have devolved into.  I’ve been in art galleries, where there would be things hanging on the wall that made no sense to me, didn’t look like anything, and didn’t incite any emotion of any kind – with price tags of thousands of dollars.  On the other hand, I’ve been to sidewalk art shows, and “Art In The Park” shows – where some of the art there was out of this world – of things we would all recognize, things that struck a nerve, or a heartstring – for most people – with price tags of ten and twenty bucks.  I’ve seen street performers, as well as guys who only play in their back yard for their own enjoyment, who could play and sing circles around most mainstream “Artists” with very little effort.
I’m not familiar with how the rest of the art world works, but I do, from firsthand experience, know a few things about the music business.  Sometime in the 90s, I went to a “Songwriters’ Seminar” somewhere in the Virginia/DC area.  The main speaker was a guy named Gary McCarty – he was some big time program director for one of the major FM radio stations on the east coast.  After he presented his spiel, they passed the mic around for Q & A.  When it was my turn, I presented Mr. McCarty with this, “Mr. McCarty, since radio requests and record sales no longer have anything to do with what is #1, #2, and #10, can you tell us what does?”.  Well, he danced around, did the jig, hemmed, hawed, double talked, and stammered for a good five minutes, and never did answer my question.  You see, this is just another glaring example of how the mainstream music business is not straight up – it makes up its own rules as they go, making said rules to profit, profit, and profit some more.  Here’s another little story:  Sometime in the early 80s, I contacted a booking agent who worked out of Montana – he booked a circuit in the California/Oregon/Washington/Idaho/Utah/Colorado/Arizona/New Mexico area.  In those days, there were what was known as “A Rooms”, and “B Rooms” – the A rooms being the nice, upscale places, while the B rooms were more of the smaller dance halls and bars.  Of course, the good bands worked the A rooms, and the lesser quality bands worked the B rooms – as it should be.  Anyway, I presented my spiel to this agent.  He asked at one point, “What kind of country music do you do?”.  I replied, “Traditional country, Outlaw Country – the old stuff”.  He said, nobody wants to hear that, you need to be commercial and contemporary, there is only one band that does that, and they only get away with it because they’ve built such a monster following…”.  I guess he wasn’t thinking, but damn, he spelled it right out – the one band had a monster following – why, because of magic?  NO, it was because if done well, the people like that old stuff.
Here’s still another story:  I was listening to a local talk show, when the guest speaker was a guy who owned one of the major record labels in Hawaii – the guy’s name was John DeMello, of Mountain Apple Records.  I called in, and amazingly I got through.  I asked, “Do you guys actually look for new artists or bands?”.  He replied, “Yes, of course we do, we are always looking for new talent”.  I replied, “Well, I sent you a CD, and a couple weeks later you sent it back with the nice little form letter, saying something about how you loved the CD, but were unable to take on any new artists, the CD STILL IN THE CELLOPHANE WRAPPER”.  He started on a rant, which is where my main point is – he said, “What you musicians don’t understand is that most of the artists and bands we sign never even recover the money we spend on putting out their CD, and promoting them”.  You see, another one who wasn’t thinking when he opened his mouth.  The bad thing is that all of the major record labels have this horrible habit of signing the copycat artists and bands – ones who mimic everything that comes out on the radio – stating, “You GOT to be commercial”, and other such horseshit.  They never look for anything different, fresh, or unique; AND, when something does by some fluke, slip through the cracks, even though they fought it tooth and nail before the fact, they would then jump on the bandwagon, claiming they supported it the whole time – and then proceed to look for “Artists” and bands who are now mimicking the new sound.  This has been the MO since the early 80s – at least in the country music side of things.
Not sure if the masses are aware of this fact, but Billboard Magazine is who dictates what goes on on the radio (#1, #2, and #10), who gets signed, who gets promoted, and even who wins the “Awards”.  It’s known as radio’s “Bible”.  Mainstream radio and the major record labels are a very exclusive and iron clad Good Ol’ Boy network.  One other little fact, my dad worked in radio from the late 50s till the early 80s, and one of the things he told me was that any unsolicited music that arrived at the front desk either through the mail or hand delivered, was to be thrown straight into the trash.

I often wonder where the laws against monopoly are, and the conflict of interest laws that state it’s against the law to own a radio station and a record label – being that it’s common knowledge that it’s all the same people who own the whole conglomeration.  I’ve said this before, but here it is again – I’ve seen quite a few documentaries where the record biz people are screaming and whining about the dismal “Unit” sales – blaming piracy and free downloading for their own ineptitude and all their “isms” (Nepotism, buddyism, cronyism, etc.).  Meanwhile, the publicist side of the biz continues to spread their lies – lies disguised as advertising, using every psychological trick in the book to sell, sell, sell.  To add injury to insult, the only place you can hear the old classic music is on obscure stations that don’t get advertised, and are mostly pushed back into the wash of nothing.  It’s easy for record labels to find mediocre “Artists” and bands, and easy to crank out mediocre songs, as opposed to finding artists and bands that have any real talent and ability, and songs that are worth something.
Of the national country acts, I’ve yet to see one who can hit more than about 2/3rds of the notes – and that’s on a good day, and there are two guys out there now who can actually play their guitars – the rest – they don’t even meet the basics – can’t hit most of the notes they try to sing, and the guitars are nothing more than props.  Oh, and the worst part – they are SO desperate to be “Cool”, with their fake southern accents, their silly cowboy hats, and their ridiculous “Moves”.  Elvis didn’t have a choreographer, and I never saw him trying to be “Cool”, same goes for Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, Tammy Wynette, Loretta Lynn, Dolly, George Jones, or just about any of the old timers.  But, just about every one of ‘em that appeared after about 1985 – they look ridiculous, and can't sing or play.  Even more disgusting is the way the youngsters eat it up – doing so as a result of all the psychological games that these corporate giants use to sell their inferior products.
As for me, I’ve been trying, for almost two years, to get agents to take just a few minutes to watch my demo videos (one click), and so far, not a single one has even had the decency to acknowledge me.  I’ve contacted agents and entertainment directors here in Reno, and I’ve contacted agents who book national and regional tours – for both major and minor acts, and again, not a single one has gotten back to me one way or another.  For the record, if I should get on a tour, or any of my songs get major airplay, and if I get the same hype that any of the other major artists get, and the people don’t care for it, I can live with that, but I don’t do so well with being ignored and squashed – which has been the case now since the mid 80s.  Here is the link to my YouTube channel: .  If any of you reading this should want to take a look at the guy who is writing this stuff (that’s me), please feel free, and please don’t hesitate to comment either here or at YouTube, or both.

One last point.  If there were a bunch of great artists out there, making great music, I wouldn't be saying any of these things, and I wouldn't feel so bad about being ignored and squashed.  But, that's not the case, as I've said more times than I can count, the calibre of most artists is horrid, they have no substance, no talent, no real ability, and would have no appeal if not for the expensive but deceptive hype that is employed by the major record labels.
Thanks for taking the time to read my rant.  Oh, and you can find me here: .

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