past few years, I have read more and more articles in nameless
corporate music magazines about the 'destruction' of the music
biz. All of these articles go on to blame CD burners, Internet
radio, and the public's access to cheap technology as the causes.
I can almost understand the points the articles try to make--but
then I look at my collection of music and realize the genius being
created throughout the world that would not be noticed without
any of these 'destructive' advancements.
business is far from dying. In fact, it is probably more vivacious
than ever before. The power is simply shifting from huge labels
like Sony and Epic to smaller labels and individuals who are passionate
about making music. The ability to record and distribute music
for low prices is opening up new worlds for non-pop musicians,
and the major labels are upset that people are spending less money
on their latest trend album.
me much more pleasure to hear work produced in the bedroom of
some avant-garde pianist than to listen to a seventeen year old
girl moan about her problems over a beat used five years ago by
another little girl. Not only do I find independent music to sound
better; it is often cheaper--occasionally to the point of being
free--than the garbage found in music superstores.
of who is performing the music or what instrument is being used,
nine out of ten times the product can easily be described as quality.
the reasons why:
cannot stress this enough. Passion is a musician who buys blank
CDs over lunch break with change found on the way to the store.
Passion is a musician who records and edits his or her work on
his or her computer in the middle of the night with neighbors
banging on the walls. Passion is a musician burning the finished
music products on the blank CDs between bites of cereal in the
morning. These people are either in love with music or crazy (possibly
opposite a rock 'n roll superstar who is stuck with a fifteen
record contract it is easy to see who will most likely be creating
passion-driven music and who will be busting out three CDs a year
just to make money.
Count the number of boy bands who put out an album since January.
There are a couple of reasons why you could never do this. First,
you would probably die before you finished counting. Second, no
number is known to be that large.
musicians do not follow pop trends. They work with a multitude
of instruments and styles when creating music, which allows the
formation of an interest in their present work and work to come.
packaging. The package a CD is distributed in should be appealing
and complimentary to the music. There are methods of packaging
other than using a typical jewel case, and these methods tend
to be implemented by self-producing musicians.
the number of boy bands who put out an album since January, used
unorthodox methods of packaging, and do not plaster the cover
with images of themselves. That was much easier, wasn't it?
many self-producing musicians use jewel cases, but even the inlay
bookley contains more useful information than photographs of the
band members in wet T-shirts.
is an interesting aspect of self-produced CDs. I've seen--and
purchased--music ranging from free up to $20. The average, though,
is somewhere between $8 and $12, which is still much cheaper than
mass produced CDs. Even when the cost of the CD is high, though,
it is easy to hand over the money knowing that it is going to
the pocket of a truly devoted musician.
after me: Passion + Variety + Packaging + (usually low) Cost =
EXCELLENT MUSIC. (Although defining the sum of this formula as
'excellent music' is completely subjective, the listener still
knows how much devotion the musician had in producing the music.)
must we be stared at by armies of the digitally enhanced faces
of Britney Spears and 'N Sync while listening to the sound of
nails on a chalkboard. We are in the midst of a technological
revolution and the power to record high quality music is moving
into the hands of individuals. Although major corporations still
pull on the ears of many listeners, we are gaining control of
stereos with our own music and cheap methods of production.
© 2000 Matthew Eberhart All Rights Reserved
Eberhart has been writing critical essays on culture and cinema
for the past two years. He has also been writing fiction and avant-garde
poetry for much of his life. Matthew has written for a number
of online and printed publications and is Editor of Film Features
and Interviews at Rocket Fuel magazine. His small press, greyletter
press, has published many literature collections, including POST
L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E PROPHECIES, and is set to release a new aesthetic
magazine/CD this summer. Matthew is presently attending school
for Media Studies and non-fiction writing.
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