(Another Myspace Mygration)
It’s funny. Now that recorded media, storage, and distribution have blown up…the only left (for some artists) is playing live. The rule of thumb is: if your band was releasing tapes…you may want to consider a tour. This says a lot. First of all, no one seems to buy records anymore. You don’t even need the material. It’s just a file. The dying of “album-culture” is proven by (a) the constant re-issuing, re-mastering, re-bonus-tracking, and other re-othering. And (b) records aren’t made anymore. Everyone knows that singles/tracks are all that matters. Record companies got lucky by inventing new formats to sell records all over again. Once a digital media arrived, the clock started ticking.*
*I swear the rumor I heard in 1990 about how compact discs “breakdown” and the film “evaporates” was Barnum-esque marketing/mind-control to generate sales. Fucking please. I’ve dragged discs on the street face-down and played them.
**And I also remember in 1982, hearing how cassette-recorders would kill album sales, and how my Dad would ambiguously joke-threaten the illegality of that act!
“What if someone stole something of yours?”, he would say, deadpan.
No. This time the media was perfect and had arrived. Judging by publishing dates of some books on CD’s, they were getting mainstream by 1987-89. I fully crossed-over later in 1992, but I’m a musician. I’d quickly say that record companies had a great 10 years selling the shit out of CD’s. Once computers and burners became mainstream and ordinary, that was the first nail. Then high-speed Internet, second nail. MP3 technology, final nail. This is not necessarily a bad thing, unless we miss albums. I do and I don’t.
John Entwistle. (is another topic entirely)
The image of John Entwistle skeet-shooting gold records, his house full of basses and other (safe) gold records has and always will impress me to envy. I’m talking Baroque-Surrealist, 1970′s rock n’ roll excess worthy of Ken Russell/Stanley Kubrick. I’m unfortunately opening more topics, like commerce of art, IP thingies, and super-conglomonomics. The rock n’ roll (now) caricature isn’t exactly what it was.
Once we take this all in, you notice how calculated the music industry is; the entire entertainment industry is. No more risks. The masses aren’t seekers. 30 years ago the masses seemed to think more, even if we weren’t necessarily smarter.
Combined with shorter attention spans and other Future Shock-type truths, we have a relic in the “album”. And not so much the literal making and appreciation of “albums” but death of an sub-industry. Everyone loves The Police or Pink Floyd, whoever. But I only need one copy of their catalog. The only thing novel I can experience with any artist is performance. And even bootleg culture (another whole essay) gets predictable, which sucks. It’s like a blowhard friend and you know exactly when the same droll, scripted joke is coming…way in advance.
Every old band will re-unite to play gigs. Look at these fucking ticket sales! The whole thing is a conspiracy.
1. Constantly invent new media to replace old ones. Meta-macro-planned obsolescence. Not a real word.
2. Plundering and closing recording vaults. Rationing the shit out of any sound committed to tape by anyone. God Bless completist dorks.
3. Underbooking events so two things happen. Ticket prices are already high, then gouged by other avenues of acquisition. They’re re-sold, auctioned, bribed with, bribed for, horded. This also creates a “next time” effect securing the franchise.
4. Corporate sponsors. Corporate sponsors for the tour. Corporate sponsors for the theatres/venues. Corporate sponsors for the food available. Corporate sponsors for the video screens because you’re so far away from the fucking stage you can’t see shit because good seats are $2000.
What’s wrong Pink Floyd? Not selling 1000 Dark Side Of The Moon’s every day anymore? Welcome to the machine, pal. Better reconsider that reunion quick.
The point is not to say bands will reunite because the original record industry is dead…although that is true…but our only fresh interaction or novel experience with a beloved band is seeing them play live, in front of our eyes, for once.