Two Takes on the Music Biz. . .
Something different today-two very cool comments on music and the music business.
The first, from a recent Chris Rock interview in Rolling Stone and his take on then music and rap business today. He might be focusing on rap but much of the same can be said of rock, alternative, and certainly the tradtional ‘labels’.
The second is a reader letter from Bob Lefsetz’s Blog Lefsetz’s Letter.
Chris Rock: Music kind of sucks. Nobody’s into being a musician. Everybody’s getting their mogul on. You’ve been so infiltrated by this corporate mentality that all the time you’d spend getting great songs together, you’re busy doing nine other things that have nothing to do with art. You know how shitty Stevie Wonder’s songs would have been if he had to run a fuckin’ clothing company and a cologne line?
RollingStone: Plenty of rappers say, “I’m not a rapper, I’m a businessman.”
Chris Rock: That’s why rap sucks, for the most part. Not all rap, but as an art form it’s just not at its best moment. Sammy the Bull would have made a shitty album. And I don’t really have a desire to hear Warren Buffett’s album – or the new CD by Paul Allen. That’s what everybody’s aspiring to be.
We live in a weird time. No one knows who’s smart – we just know who makes money. “Hey, somebody invented Viagra! We don’t know their name, but we know Pfizer, because they make the money.” That guy made a pill that keeps your dick hard, and nobody knows who the fuck he is. The pharmaceutical companies are like fuckin’ record companies. There’s literally the Bo Diddley of medicine walking around, not getting his royalties. He signed all his fucking pill publishing away.
(“Rolling Stone”, Issue 1039, November 15, 2007, page 157)
Now the second one, a letter from a reader of the Bob Lefsetz’s Blog, which focuses again on the music business. The note was in response to a blog regarding the old southern rock label, Capricorn Records, but I share the note for its and their attitude towards music and music promotion.
Thanks for the trip down memory lane. My dad (Tim Lane) opened the west coast office for Capricorn around 1971-2, and was the #3 exec for about 3 years. In that short time, he had many great stories (e.g. being on the road with the Allman Bros., a White Witch promotion disaster, and other “Almost Famous” incidents). He was previously head of Album Sales for Atlantic from 1966-70, and seemed to have a knack for being where the great music was happening, and getting it to the fans.
My dad used to bring home lots of albums and promotional material from Capricorn, which I shared with my friends. At home, he would play the albums over & over again, enjoying every note as much as any fan could. He had band members over to the house and took our family to their concerts. Working at Capricorn was not a job to him — it was fun… a passionate hobby. He thought it was a privilege to promote the music!
Although he saw great sales on his watch at Atlantic and Capricorn, his main thought was not about how much money was being made, but how he was going to get the music to the people. The music was his religion and he was determined to convert the masses.
When my dad passed away 2 1/2 years ago, I went through his album collection, reminiscing on the familiar album covers & promo materials of Livingston Taylor, the Allman Bros., Wet Willie, Marshall Tucker Band, White Witch, and Captain Beyond. They were old friends, hanging around to remind me of those magical days with my dad.
I’ve since sold my dad’s albums to an avid collector because I don’t own a record player & would probably not get a chance to play the vinyl again. It was tough to say goodbye to my childhood friends & a big chunk of my dad’s soul. But I no longer needed the physical albums. The music had already made a lifetime impact on me, constantly reminding me of a special time — a time when the music mattered.
Two different times – two different places, two different takes on music and the music business. All I know is that the second hit home for me.