By Hans Ebert
The news that each member of Metallica will be bringing out a range of shoes under the Vans brand stopped me in my tracks: Not cos I’m a Metallica fan but just because it made me realize how music is being pushed into the background and how various tails are wagging the music dog which has become a rabid bitch.
As if to emphasize how music has become all business, the billionaire Russian businessman Len Blavatnik who bought Warner Music and probably wouldn’t know Coldplay from a cold sore has successfully outbid real music people like the team of the legendary Chris Blackwell and Simon Fuller to purchase the great Parlophone label, once the home of the Beatles, and today the musical home of Blur, Coldplay, Kylie etc.
Music companies which answer to parent companies like Vivendi, a French waterworks company, have become the very poor cousins of soccer teams which have allowed in sharks like Balu Chanrai, Carson Yeung and Abrahmovich and others to sully the once Beautiful Game.
And when a game fixer from Singapore like Dan Tan gets involved, it cripples the sport and you wonder what’s real and what’s not.
Its like all the staged antics of television talent shows and pre-selected “new” contestants like Susan Boyle, Adam Lambert and so many others who had been knocking around for years getting nowhere.
Does all this devalue music and the PROCESS of producing music? It cheapens it and almost makes the art of creating music irrelevant and pointless.
Of course, merchandising has always been part of Music- everything from the production of posters to lunch boxes etc.
Where it was different is that it never ever took OVER the music and made businessmen outta musicians.
Today, however, those with the street smarts who saw where opportunities could be had stepped in overnight and control what was once the music industry and which today is the Let’s Throw In The Kitchen Sink industry.
From here, music has been pushed into the background and become disposable while the media has focused on creating celebritydom and false idols outta reality stars like the Kardashians and tv-populated karaoke singers.
From all of this, puppet masters have been created and who are savvy enough to play the media. The days of Perez Hilton are over. He’s still in bed with Brit Brit.
There is nothing wrong with this as those who can do and those who cannot moan and get left behind while others who talk about “saving the music” don’t have any idea how to do this other than tripping over while talking the talk like the bloke below- a a staple of white bread music conferences where the emphasis is on the con.
With the Hip Hop community having a lock on this “music” business where street music has met Wall Street and Jay Z, Diddy, Fiddy, Pharrel Williams and Kanye smart enough to sell a CULTURE and build their own empires, everything has changed.
It’s all very Black and White and with the latter forced to play follow the leader to survive and remain relevant.
In a very small way, I was recently reminded how many musicians who are never going to be amongst the upper echelons of this industry think today: There is an air of desperation amongst them and where phoniness and bullshit is played out in the name of “friendship” when other agendas to do with gigs and money are the bottom lines.
Being genuine friends and working for the love of music or building on something everyone believes in as a team is long gone.
It’s all and only about the money and which creates a very phony atmosphere where you’re only as popular as what you can offer or bring to the table.
Yes, sad to say, many musicians have become whores and ” love you short time”is their business strategy and which is ugly when you can see right through it.
It devalues music more than a Russian businessman or a clod like Guy Hands acquiring a music company .
Why? Because if like me, you expect more from musos or maybe I am just being a wide eyed Pollyanna.
Perhaps, I forget that musos are also people who reach a certain age where they need to make a living.
If making music is the only trade you know and talent you have, you do what you have to in order to survive, financially.
Having said this, the key is how you go about this. Short term deals and gigs are just that. Where the next gig is going to come from, is still reliant on long-term thinking and relationships and teamwork. Burn bridges and you have created a career hole.
Age aside, everyone seems to be in such a hurry to succeed. Perhaps this is all part of progress.
Me? I still believe that good things come to those who wait- and don’t speak with forked tongues.