The paradigm changed so long ago for the music industry, that few people understand
that everyone used to be ‘alternative’. A casual glance through the charts of the
1970’s alone, reveals scores of artists pursuing completely different visions of music – all their own – and all valid. Audiences would ‘find’ the style/s of music they
liked and follow those artists. Those choices took time; this was an era before the
fast-food, immediate-gratification culture – and once decided there was an element of following a new band and being an active PART of their career – by PAYING for their
Music cannot progress, nor have value, if it’s created solely for financial return.
If that’s a musician’s intent – they might as well write for elevators and supermarkets. Yes it’s that nasty. But it’s the truth that no one wants to hear. There are too
many bands out there slavishly following other bands, too many writing in generic
styles, too many people – with absolutely NO TALENT - who want fame and not
credibility - a meaningless moment in the ‘just a pretty-face non-culture.’ With
this desperate hunger – and the media’s brutal reiteration of replica styles/groups - we lost something sacred. We lost original music. Sadder still, few are mourning. And the business – as is – is actively encouraging mediocrity; because the majority
continue to VENERATE MEDIOCRITY.
At one time, labels would head-hunt new bands with A+R staff regularly attending gigs. If signed they’d ‘sweeten the pot’ with an advance – a large chunk of cash - up
front. That was stage one of the Faustian Pact. Because many hopefuls didn't realise that the advance was actually a LOAN; and the launch parties thrown to promote their band’s name (along with the free-flowing champagne and canapés) was actually coming
out of their own pockets. I also know of bands signed up entirely as ‘tax write-off's.’ Potential careers – killed with a pen-stroke.
The days of record label’s significance have largely vanished. Now we’re in new
territory. And in those uncharted waters are NEW sharks. Sadly, they’re the same old ‘bottom-feeders’. People who’ll gladly take your money and offer you the world –
until you’re down to your last cent/penny – and their hollow promises are still
echoing in your ears. These people are everywhere – in every creative industry. They
have NO interest in your music, your poetry, your novels or your movie scripts. They just want your currency. Some of them are so powerful that they actually DO possess
(albeit tenuous) contact with the major artists they promise to deliver your demo to.
But if your material’s that good – why do THEY need YOUR hard-earned coin? And how many of the people on their books have successful careers – while the bottom-feeders
make a parasitic living – day in/day out from all the OTHERS who have NO realistic
CHANCE of success? If these people were legitimate – they’d give an honest appraisal of each writer’s work – and if consistently bad - ‘kick them off their books.’
*** Here’s a ‘WAKE-UP CALL’ about these companies. If they DO have legitimate
contact with STAR names – do you really imagine that they’ll sit down with those
people – even ONCE a week – and force them to endure the hundreds of demo tracks
they’re being PAID by YOU to promote? NOT FOR A SINGLE SECOND! If they did – the
star names would AVOID them in the street. They’d take LEGAL steps to enforce their
privacy. It’s blindingly obvious that the bottom feeders will WEED OUT the
‘also-rans’ the first time they hear their demos. BUT THEY WILL STILL TAKE THEIR
Here’s another mind f*ck, some of these companies use computer algorithms to ‘listen’ to your tracks – programmed to find similar FORMULAS to already successful songs! So for your payment, you won’t even get your material appraised by a creative mind. Not only have they fashioned a mechanism which REJECTS original ideas - NO HUMAN BEING
even LISTENS TO IT!
Add to this THE ACCEPTED names in music promotion - offering their help for FREE – and why not? They’re largely automated services. You’re the one doing all the work –
adding your details and your music – while a programme does the rest. But here’s the burn. Try taking advantage of one of their ‘free’ services and see if they’ll ALLOW
you to – without FIRST revealing your BANK DETAILS. I see this all the time and
it really offends me. If they truly possess the ability to promote your music – and
it’s potentially successful – build a payment into the back-end of the deal – and be
completely HONEST about it. No one would object to that.
A few words on the companies offering opportunities in the Film industry and TV; they call it ‘SYNCHRONIZATION’. Note how many of these people ask for your tracks then
post MP3’s or You Tube links from their clients – saying that they want material that ‘sounds like’ this.
Reading between the lines they’re actually saying – we want THIS track – but we don’t want to pay the person who composed it the current value. Instead, we want you to
copy it, but we can’t say that in print – because it would leave us open to legal
action. Instead, YOU do the deed. Oh, and remember the disclaimer you signed when
you joined our company? The one in which you stated that all the material you offered
us would be solely your own creation? That means, if someone does pursue legal action - IT’S ALL ON YOU.
Not only will you end up in court, you’ll also lose any credibility you may have entertained as an original musician/composer. Believe me, I’m not just making this stuff
up. Long before the internet, I know people who were pushed down this same path – and the companies that pushed were far more explicit about their intent – IN PERSON - than they’ll ever admit in writing.
And let’s not forget the ‘Radio Stations’ that want you to PAY them to play YOUR
music? Isn't that the rock-bottom of a career? Psychologically it’s like admitting
to yourself; my songs are so bad, I have to pay other people to listen to them’. But don’t worry, few people are doing that anyway. Most of the ‘audience’ for these
so-called stations are the members of OTHER bands who've ALSO paid for the same
‘opportunity’– JUST LIKE YOU. My god, isn't that even MORE sad? It’s all just a
PITIABLE, self-serving ego trip.
Before I finish in a bout of complete negativity and introspection, there ARE ‘good
guys’ out there helping to keep real bands afloat, promoting them for next to no
income. It takes a lot of time to sound them out. One of my heroes is
They cannot exist for free – though for a long time they did try to survive on
advertising. These guys really ‘push’ the bands they accept. If you want THEIR
support – offer them YOUR support – and know that they have your best interest at
These days, against these odds, even the carbon-copy bands are struggling. To be
original, to paraphrase Barrie, is an “awfully big adventure.”
Let me tell you – it’s worth every step.