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Thursday, March 26, 2009

The State of the Music Business: Editorial by John Mellencamp

In light of all the hoopla around the latest Neil Young Archives news, there's been quite a bit of discussion around what's in store for the music business. Certainly, the latest NYA news at SXSW provoked another round of how to get everyone involved -- artists, fans, labels -- into some sort of healthy state.

So is the Blu-Ray format of the Neil Young Archives box set the future of music? We think not. Although -- for our money -- the BD download feature is the camel's nose under the tent. Our prediction is that someday all music will be streamed from servers as uncompressed downloads via torrents.

But we digress.

Here's a rather brilliant rundown of the current situation by John Mellencamp: The State of the Music Business:
"Over the last few years, we have all witnessed the decline of the music business, highlighted by finger-pointing and blame directed against record companies, artists, internet file sharing and any other theories for which a case could be made. We've read and heard about the 'good old days' and how things used to be. People remember when music existed as an art that motivated social movements. Artists and their music flourished in back alleys, taverns and barns until, in some cases, a popular groundswell propelled it far and wide. These days, that possibility no longer seems to exist. After 35 years as an artist in the recording business, I feel somehow compelled, not inspired, to stand up for our fellow artists and tell that side of the story as I perceive it. Had the industry not been decimated by a lack of vision caused by corporate bean counters obsessed with the bottom line, musicians would have been able to stick with creating music rather than trying to market it as well."

Full editorial by John Mellencamp: On My Mind: The State of the Music Business.


At 3/26/2009 08:06:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I've always found it amusing that a few people who have never made a record or written a song seem to know so much more about what an artist should be doing than the artist himself. If these pundits know so much, I'd suggest that make their own"

My sentiments exactly.

"All you critic sit alone"

At 3/26/2009 10:29:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

notice there is no mention of how music is distributed successfully these days. that's because "cougar" doesn't fucking know. most rock and roll musicians of his era were more concerned about where they were going to score there next bag of blow than how they were going to cut out the many middlemen of the industry.

how did master p and p diddy and ever other hip hop icon get rich? they put work into it. something most rock and roll morons are trying to avoid. as terrible as most rap music is one thing the artists did to make money was go out and promote themselves. master p sold music out of his car. p diddy worked his way up from donut boy to head his own label.

and cougar, you want to know why country has taken over the heartland? because country artists actually tour in places like nebraska, north dakota and montana. whereas most dbag rock and roll icons require a basketball arena and gold colored m&m's before they set foot in your town. neil young still hasn't fucking played my state. and where the hell has your ass been. do you expect people to throw cash at you when you don't even show up to pick up the check?

these fucking has beens know nothing about what it takes to make it today. hey cougar, what about the guy in new zealand who makes his own cd's and packaging and promotes on myspace. he makes a living. he may not be able to afford a mountain of cocaine and garage full of cars but he's making it. it's called work buddy. nothing has changed

one thing about neil is that he is working on innovating his product rather than crying about the "bean counters". cougar, if you would have spent as much time in your career on business as you had on sucking down cartons of cigarettes maybe you could have cut the middle man out too.

At 3/26/2009 11:58:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You gotta stop holding back.

At 3/26/2009 12:22:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mellencamp is not taking into account the shift in population in the last 30 years.

Like it or not, immigration of more Latin and Asians radio listeners, naturally veer toward listening to a musical form that resinates with them--primarily dance based, in urban environments.

As a result, trickles down to dance pop, from Britney to Gwen to J-Lo to Shakira (never mind the selling of sex--hello MTV!)... and the Hip Hop explosion. Like it or not, that's the new reality.

Still, singer-songwriters are out there (Conor Oberst, Ani DiFranco, Jason Mraz), so what do they know that you haven't figured out, John?

John, the paradigm has changed, and it might behoove you to chat with ol' Neil... he doesn't seem quite so bitter.


At 3/26/2009 01:08:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love your posts AK

At 3/26/2009 01:13:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i like what you're saying here. i would add that another issue is basic capitalism. ticket prices now are ridiculous. i refuse to pay over 50 bucks for anyone at this point. neil hasn't played my state either(georgia), but if he does, i will be heading to the arena witha 20 dollar bill to score a scalp ticket, like i do every time springsteen comes to town.
the other issue is music prices. there is no reason that albums should cost over 10 dollars in cd format and 5 dollars in download. they are uber cheap to make on the cd side, and there is no 'product' with the downloads.
it's all quite fascinating.

At 3/26/2009 02:12:00 PM, Blogger Carter said...

John was one of the first to use T Bone Burnett's new technology and include a DVD with MP3's of the album ripped from the master tapes, and a higher-than-CD-quality rip playable on a DVD player, with his latest album. He's not far behind the curb. His latest album was his best in years and should have put him back on the radar but as with his entire career his name is holding him back.

At 3/26/2009 07:18:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The dinosaurs are dying and it's never been a better time to be a music fan.

At 3/26/2009 11:15:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The issue is technology ... today fans can STEAL the product, b/c that's what an illegal download is STEALING ... so folks like Mellencamp who should be enjoying annuities from their catalog are faced with depressed economics because apparently many fans aren't honest enough to pay $10 for a CD ... Second, young people aren't into rock and roll they're into the dance music, rap, urban, hip hop, whatever - I think almost of all it is garbage but that's probably because I grew up on folk music, rock n' roll, jazz, blues ... Probably, the decline in album royalties has forced artists to increase the cost of their concerts and elevated the importance of revenues from live music as opposed to selling recorded music ... in terms of dis-intermediating the bean counters ... I would say that some artists probably loath the business end of things ... they are talented artists who are passionate about creating its probably a pain in the butt to deal with business ... look, Neil lucked out with Eliot, I have no doubts that Neil is where he is today at least in small part because of Elliot ... its easier to thumb your nose at the fans and the industry when you've already cut some sweet deals and you don't need anyone ... that's not to take anything away from Neil, he's the man, he'd be the way he is no matter what but having someone dealing with the business is key.


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