Don’t Panic

I’m sure by now many of you have seen this.  I’m here to comfort you.  It’s not as bad as the writers would have you think.

What that article boils down to is really poor understanding of how the world works.  Of course musicians today have better stats than the true greats of pop music.  You could have written the same piece except instead of Creed outselling Hendrix, it would be Hendrix outselling Mozart.  With technology, globalization, and the relative ease and inexpensive access to music it is no wonder more people are buying Rihanna.

It also completely ignores the fact that most popular musicians are not musicians, but entities created by record labels to sell music.  Zeppelin made music to make music.  In fact most of their contemporary critics hated them.  They didn’t care.  If Justin Bieber were to ever get a bad review (which he won’t because music critics aren’t critics) his people would somehow flip the narrative.  The writer would be scorned for attacking a boy, or Bieber would change his style so that criticism doesn’t apply anymore.

Music today is so much more of a business than it was 30 years ago.  You can’t make “Almost Famous” about a kid in love with the Jonas Brothers because the Jonas brothers aren’t musicians, they are a fabrication by the Disney Channel.  Yes they play instruments and sing, and probably even write some of their own stuff, but what gets out as far as image and sound is so carefully controlled.  Also, there is too much of a turnover.  Hannah Montana/ Miley came and went.  Britney is so 2003.  These acts today are like a military flare, the come out of nowhere burn bright as hell then are gone.  The goal is to push as many units in the brief time in the spotlight.  Where the greats truly make their name is not how many records they sell, or number one hits, or even songs that charted, its because when we go through those comparisons we find it hard to believe.  Their names last, their music lasts.  When was the last time you heard “Low” anywhere but on some sort of marketing campaign?  Now when was the last time you heard Hendrix, or REM, or Zeppelin, or Simon and Garfunkel, or Springsteen?  For me, and I’ll bet for most Americans over 23, when they turned on their iPod or iTunes.  Longevity is the mark of a great musician.  You could argue that getting out their like pop icons of today do helps their longevity, but only time will tell.  So don’t read too much into it, it is simply a product of globalization and increased access worldwide, not some sort of indictment of our beloved musicians who defined rock.

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2 thoughts on “Don’t Panic

  1. Couldn’t agree more. There are only a few songs out today that I can foresee out living its writer/performer. I think you have an excellent point too about Hendrix outselling Mozart, just think about classical composers like Beethoven, Mozart, Chopin, etc. – their music has been popular for 200+ years almost! The same goes for artists like Beatles, Johnny Cash, Elvis, Hendrix, etc, whose music has been popular for 50+ years in some cases!

    Although, it may be too early to tell the long lasting songs of our generation…after all the popularity of those artists was handed down parent to child and on and on in many cases. One case comes to mind for me is the Smiths and my dad. Not one of your ordinary popular acts that gets a ton of radio play on classic rock stations, but a remarkable band that has lasted the years. I think bands like Radiohead and Dave Matthews Band may generate similar type followings in the future. As for Rhianna, I could care less…

    Great piece!

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