Posts Tagged ‘radiohead’

So another decade of music has now passed.

Thank God.

Since the end of World War II, if not earlier, every decade brought one if not two large-scale movements in the evolution of popular music, but surely the 2000s was the least inspired and most insipid of the bunch. And the scary thing is, it’s not because I’m not getting any younger, it’s because the music isn’t getting any fresher.

I think the predominant themes of the last 10 years in popular music were “artists” who consider screaming a valid alternative to singing and the “artists” whose idea of music has more to do with what they look like than how they sound.

These trends were to be expected, of course; the over-hyped pretty-but-talentless thing certainly had its share of precursors in the 80s and 90s, and the screaming “singers” were doubtless born of the roaring vocals of Sepultura and Pantera as well as the “Territorial Pissings” end of Nirvana’s oeuvre. Nevertheless, they appear to have assumed a place of prominence within the last ten years, a place which I look forward to seeing them lose.

This is not to say by any means that all the music of the last ten years has been bad – it is still possible to create excellent new music even if one is not truly innovating. A quick listen to such acts as Jealousy Curve, Cherry Suede or Kick Up The Fire is certainly proof of that.

There has also been a small degree of continued innovation; Radiohead, for example, have continued to push the envelope, delivering album after album of fresh-sounding material.

By and large, though, the 2000s certainly didn’t produce a musical shift on the order of rock and roll, punk or even disco. The electronica end didn’t evolve much. Rap hasn’t particularly grown beyond where it was in 1999.

I believe that part of this is due to the continued dominance of the RIAA (and its parent, the IIPA) over the majority of what gets out there. The record labels want a sound which has been focus-grouped and market-tested to death before they spend a nickel, hardly an ethos to foster revolutionary content.

I also believe, however, that this is beginning to change for the better; as recording technology becomes ever cheaper and the means to distribute and disseminate music over the Web becomes ever easier, we approach a scenario wherein a band still rehearsing in a basement or garage out in Wheretheheckisthat, Iowa can change the face of the world. The number of views to their MySpace or PureVolume pages, the number of plays on Last.fm or YouTube can skyrocket without the need for expensive label promotion or indeed any backing beyond the skilled leveraging of social media.

Unsurprisingly, the cries of the RIAA against music piracy have grown ever more strident as time has passed; many months ago I wrote an ‘open letter’ to them on this blog, and little has changed. Their product, for the most part, continues to be anemic tripe. Especially in a recession, it is hardly worth the gas money to drive to the record store for this stuff, never mind drop fifteen or twenty bucks for an album which is three-fourths filler.

Here, then, are the seeds for the next big music revolution. Not looking like Lady Gaga, not screaming like Avenged Sevenfold, not delivering balls-less impressions of punk rock like Fall Out Boy. Coming up with your own ideas and getting them out there without worrying about the market will prove to be a true test of where the world really is.

Independent radio stations get this. Some Internet radio providers get this. The RIAA will never get this.

Roll on the 2010s, let’s hear what you have in store.


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Dear members of the RIAA:

With each assertion, you become less credible. Your recent proclamation that copying music to a computer from a legally-purchased CD is illegal is simply laughable, and flies in the face of the very raison d’etre of the burgeoning MP3 hardware industry, an industry substantially healthier than your own.

I own many CDs, legally purchased. I also have the music from those CDs on my computer and my iPod such that I might listen to your products with greater convenience than your own efforts would afford me. I have no intention of deleting said material, and fully intend to transfer more music to my computer from legally-purchased CDs. The supposed illegality of this act is not stated in the DMCA, nor is it implied, nor was it ever intended. It is merely a position taken such that you might justify charging your customers multiple times for the same material, an indefensible position when you consider that much of this material is not worth the price of downloading it for free.

As a matter of legality I am forced to defer to your position in the matter of downloading music which I did not purchase, but as a matter of ethics I would rather download an album I like and write the artist a check for ten dollars, as compared to the pittance the artist would receive from the tortuous, Machiavellian obscurantism of the contract they have with you.

If it has not happened already, I submit that you are rapidly drawing near a critical mass, beyond which the fees being paid to your lawyers exceed the monies you would have received had the illegal downloads been paid for. You are fighting a war which you lost several years ago. To escalate this war would be an act of folly comparable only to the wars waged for a village idiot’s imperialist Presidency.

It is shocking to me, as a longtime music aficionado, to see that the industry which brought forth the Beatles has sunk so low as to spend most of its budget promoting talentless hacks whose music has neither cultural meaning nor artistic value. The RIAA itself has become a malignancy infesting the lifeblood of modern music. The very industry, as exemplified by your frantic clinging to a long-obsolete business model, is deteriorating in the manner of a beautiful person dying of cancer.

The record-buying public, as the medical staff treating your cancer, have a decision to make: they can take the risk of a transplant, hoping to move your operation to a modified business model untainted by the profiteering and repressive regime under which you have operated, or to simply let their patient die, and turn their attention to a music-industry rebirth exemplified most recently by Radiohead’s release of a disc subject to their own artistic control and the fans’ response – which was overwhelmingly positive, and indeed netted the band a far greater recompense for their efforts than they ever received through their label.

Personally, this member of said medical team will have no compunctions whatsoever in bidding you adieu.

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