|||||This Mortal Coil - It'll End In Tears - Dreams Made Flesh||]|
(Some stuff I originally posted in
flemco's journal comments)
The important thing to remember is that record companies
are only businesses. Large businesses. Huge corporations,
in fact. They exist to do one thing: make money.
Corporations have no soul, pretty much by definition.
In this particular case, they could care less about
whether the music sounds good, or how talented the
musicians are, how deep the lyrics are, or any of that.
What they care about is whether they can move product,
and how much profit they can make off that product.
I like music quite a bit and have
a few CDs.
Recently, I started working for a pretty good company
whose products lived at the intersection of music and
computers, and I was looking forward to being able to
work with two of my main fascinations at the same time.
And it's been a pretty good ride. But I was forced to
recognize a few painful truths, many of which are flip
sides of flemco's complaints.
Whether it's due to lack of interest, other fields vying
for attention, or a fear of being different from others,
it seems that the vast majority of people have no musical
taste. They're buying into the image, the peer pressure,
the "lifestyle" -- they're not buying the music. The
buying patterns are much more about being cool, fitting in.
Labels take advantage of this tendancy (heck, they
instill it!) by projecting the image that
goes with the music. A lot of this is "product placement",
or, as VH1 so aptly put it: "the soundtrack of our lives".
They want to associate music with certain feelings,
so that people will buy it in order to relive those times
The latest wrinkle in this battle is expressed by labels
and management refusing to offer their content on a
track-by-track basis. Because "it destroys the cohesive
work of art that is an album". The real reason is
obvious: the big five record labels are used to spending
all their money to promote one track, then try to recover
that money by selling that single on an album full of
filler tracks. Nevermind the fact that
radio stations can still play just one track at a time;
like the proverbial Smith & Wesson, one ClearChannel or
Viacom beats Five Big Labels.
More optimistically, what can you do to change it? My
- Support local artists.
Yeah, most of them suck, but there are occasional gems.
- Support independent labels.
The added bonus here is that, once you're past the big
five and first rank of independents, the smaller labels
are typically focussed on a few styles of music; if your
tastes agree with those of the label, they can introduce
you to new music you might enjoy. Some labels that work
upbeat, perky music from
visit the land of the midnight sun on
and the rest of the planet on
Six Degrees Records;
and enjoy the "you press it, we'll sell it"
Some others to consider might be
Sub Pop Records,
Support good local music stores.
Yes, these are hard to find; in the large cities
I've lived in recently (Denver and San Diego),
there haven't been more than one or two stores
that I really enjoyed. When you find them, you
should do your best to support them: in return
for paying a bit more than off EBay or Amazon,
you can get recommendations, listen before you
buy, and find things you never would look at
Support alternative radio.
Assuming you can find it, of course; college
radio stations are a good start, and even the
"mainstream alternative" stations sometimes
play stuff worth listening to. (For me, it's
Big Sonic Chill;
it might still be cliched and commercial, but
it's something I like, so I try to support it.
Not to mention that hearing This Mortal Coil on
a commercial radio freaked me out in the best
Support touring artists.
If they're coming anywhere near your home town,
consider going to see them. Buy merchandise from
them there, if you can -- bands often see more
income off items sold at shows than through most
other outlets (although, true to form, the record
companies are trying to get in on that side of
Listen to your collection again.
I spent 500+ USD on an iPod, and it's been a great
investment: I load it up with whole albums, or even
everything I have from certain artists, and put it
on random play. There are occasional nasty segues,
but I've found a new appreciation for the nooks and
crannies of my collection that I'd either forgotten,
or never known.
Someone already mentioned Sarah McLachlan's turn
as a vocalist for Delerium; this is a classic place
for a Sarah fan to explore Delerium, and a Dererium
fan to look at what Sarah's done. Go further, and
find out that the guys behind Delerium were also
responsible for Front Line Assembly, Noise Unit,
Intermix, Synaesthesia, Pro-Tech, Conjure-One, the
Cryogenic Studios series, and Equinox. Listen to
more Derelium, and hear guest vocalists from Six
Pence None The Richer, Single Gun Theory, Sarah's
backup singers, Matthew Sweet, Rose Chronicles.
Explore their earlier, more ambient work.
Revisit old friends.
Did you like Bauhaus during the 1980s? Have you
heard Peter Murphy's solo stuff? Likewise with
Siouxsie and her banshees, and the latter-day