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Why music lost its commercial value, Pt. 7 - Who's that old man wearing my pyjamas?

01-07-2018 14:14 GMT

SRL News Column exploring today's (mainstream) music industry.


Discover why music lost its commercial value in this weekly music analysis article exploring to day's music industry from the point of view of fans. July 1, 2018 - Who's That Old Man Wearing My Pyjamas
A special feature article by indie writer, The Ghostwriter


"Excuse me Mr. Pop Star, but your willy's in my ear again."

How many times has that thought popped into your head before angrily hitting the skip button, only to find yourself hitting it over and over and over again before turning the radio off and just basking in the silence and realising how amazing it is?

If you're not 13 to 19 year old (I'm not), which is the most common target demographic for many music marketing campaigns in popular music, then probably all the time. The music industry is one of those industries no one can really wrap their heads around businesswise. Statistics show that the poeple who purchase music the most are 45+ year olds yet all the music created targets youngsters who have no money to spend, and have the utmost disregard for the people who will end up paying for the records and concert tickets on behalf of the poor teenagers with no income. A very large percentage of music purchases by 45+ year olds who are usually buying their old records on CD or digital formats to replace tapes and vinyls or acquire records they never got a chance to own back in the day don't include any new music. No one seems to be making music for grown-ups anymore, not even grown-ups. Isn't anyone tired of hearing the same damn records everytime they visit their parents or grandparents? Yes, they are amazing, but if I hear another song by Simon & Garfunkel (listen to playlist), The Beatles (listen to playlist), Abba (listen to playlist) or Johnny Cash (listen to playlist) , or even Musical Youth (listen to playlist) one more time, I think I'll just go insane - even just mentioning the name Elvis nowadays is enough to make me go nuts. But they made records that parents weren't ashamed to buy for their children. I haven't got any kids but when I watch MTV (just to keep up with what the kids are listening to), I feel embarassed when someone walks in and I switch the channel really quick because there's usually a half naked model making her booty bouce, pop, twerk or clap, eating a banana really slow, or doing something obscene, or someone's saying something no one really wants to hear - why the hell would I go out and buy that for my kids if I had kids? It's no wonder record sales are dropping, parents will never buy what's on the radio for their kids even if they were hippies, it's just seems so wrong on almost every level.

For many years the older generations have always complained about the new generation's music, afterall, only years ago parents were complaining about rap, saying they couldn't understand what the hell rappers were saying. Not too long after they started to understand what they were saying and they didn't like it very much. And likewise, hippies back in the day complained about pop, saying it was too commercial and it lacked substance. So are those who are complaining about the state of the music industry today just getting old? Is music really not as bad as it seems?

I like to consider myself a very open-minded and fair individual. An equal opportunities kind of guy, if you will. I don't even open doors for ladies anymore or offer to pay for their drinks, and I now let them make all the moves at the bar since they started campaigning so hard for equal rights (and equal pay, and filing lawsuits when we stand too close and get a boner behind them in the office elevator). I never complain when cougars pinch my butt, in fact I get excited - but whatever. So every now and again, more and more as time goes by, and music seems to be doing less and less for me, I strap myself down (usually while I'm driving) and force myself to listen to whatever the latest songs are. It usually only goes well for the first few seconds of each track before I start furiously attacking the skip button with a hint of desperation and despair. Being a student of the arts myself, I have an ear for those subtle variations and tantalizing timbres that make music producers and artists tingle inside and make record companies feel like they are sitting on top of the world; the dynamics and complex modulation that keeps listeners excited all through a track and those subtle instrumental and vocal tones, melodies and harmonies that give us butterflies. For the avid sound engineer - the guys that make all the magic happen in the studio (no, it's not the music producer), these are some of the most important things. The truth of the matter is that in today's music business many music producers are also or consider themselves sound engineers. With technological advancements things have become relatively simplified and it's easier for producers to take on that role and just have a seasoned engineer on the side but the fact remains that many of these so-called producers are sound engineers at heart and what is hitting their sweet spots are audio engineering and music theory related - not necessarily lyrical content or substance, which is what most fans hear. Fans don't hear compression, EQ, timbres and textures, they don't hear mastering, they're not concerned about the damn loudness war, and they damn sure don't give a damn about time signatures - they just want good music that speaks to their souls. Dr. Dre went out of his way to create Beats by Dre. headphones so that fans could hear exactly what producers hear but he forgot to explain exactly what they should be listening out for and hence all they hear is a really crisp and clear sound, they don't know why it's good or what makes it good from a producer's point of view, and if you switched their 200 dollar headphones for some regular ones and gave them a good old good album to listen to it probably wouldn't make a difference apart from the fact that they'll be missing a crucial fashion accessory that makes them look much cooler and makes a good conversation starter.

So what the hell am I saying here?

Well, it is that to the untrained ear, today's music may seem crap - whether sometimes or all the time, but to the trained ear it's always exquisite to whoever created it, owns the copyright or is receiving publishing for it. No one in their right mind would put out a record if they thought it was crap - obviously.

With that in mind, I hopped in my ride this fine Sunday morning, cued the latest Jay-Z album, the latest Drake album, some Bruno Mars, Cardi B's album whatever it's called, Migos, I even threw in some Katy Perry, Ed Sheeran and some Dua Lipa for genre equality, and I headed for the office with an open heart ready to experience music in a whole new light - from the producer's perspective, but to no avail unfortunately. By the time I got to the office I didn't even know why I was there anymore. Even after hitting the skip button so many times all I could think about was buying a Ferrari, going on a shopping spree, making it rain at the nearest strip club (I know all of them), before giving all my money away like Drake, and then heading back to my mansion somewhere in Mayfair and blowing my load on a young lady's back or face, after having made her beg for it prior of course - and then sending her home to her boyfriend or girlfriend.

Damn popstars!

How do I find pleasure in my normal life after that?

And to think I almost paid for Spotify Premium.


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