Thursday, January 10, 2013

Is there such a thing as bad music?

  New year, new tricks! I hope anyway... Well the holidays came and went and to be honest with you, I'm glad. I like the festivities, but these days it just seems to last too long, with Christmas adds out in October. I always liked January, I know... I 'm odd that way. It's just that it feels like new chapter and everything is possible. With the new year I think most of us do some soul searching and plans for the new year, or new years resolutions. Anyway that's not what I want to get in to know.

  Over the holidays I was exposed to a lot off what in my mind is bad music. And It got me thinking a bit, always a dangerous thing... For most musicians I have talked to over the years, it seems the music charts in most countries is mostly crap. I lost interest in the charts long time ago. Partly because lot of the music really is not to my taste, partly because the more I learned about music business the more I realized how they work. But I think the biggest reason is just a practical one, I don't listen to mainstream radio, or any music TV channel. I don't drive a car, I work from home and my commute to gigs is either 5 mins. When I am on tour, we don't really listen to much music in car. If I listen to music on the road it's from my iPhone and I am in charge of the play list. And when at home, I listen to Cd's on my Hifi, (yeah, call me old fashioned). I also do listen to lot of music on YouTube while I work, in fact this is where I find most of new music. I listen to songs, or even whole albums several times before I actually purchase a CD (that's just for any one in major label office who thinks that sharing music online is bad for sales :-D). If I go out to pubs, I usually choose them either based on the kind of music they play. Still when I do get exposed to the chart music, usually in shops funny enough, often I find my self wondering how the hell did that load of crap got there and again I am sure I am not on my own thinking this.

  But lets just stop for a second here and think. Even though to days charts are very much a manipulated system that works on the advantage of the major labels, which then gets fed on to the radio, or very often the other way around, there still need to be substantial numbers of records or downloads shifted by the public. So are we musicians and dedicated music lovers so arrogant as to think most of the music consuming audience is wrong? That what they listen to is shit and we and only we can see the true gems? Obviously if you dedicate your time to learn an instrument, play years in a band, you do get certain understanding of structures, rhythms, chord progressions etc. And I might even dare to say you would have more educated ears. But does this still mean most of people are wrong and we right? Well, in my opinion yes and no. But to really understand this, lets look at some major label tactics.

  When a major label, puts out an album, single and video they pump what would seem like a crazy amount of money on the promotion. The idea is that if you invest enough on getting the music to the public audience, eventually the scale tips over and people start buying the downloads and Cds and the record labels investment is payed and they are in profit. If the artist does well, the record company gets to multiply their investment several times. The thinking behind a major label is always to please as many people as possible with the music they invest in. This is why very often for us this seems like very middle of the road music. Also it is very accessible, in sense that it is every where! I mean, if you walk around the town, you will hear it in the stores, you will hear it in the main stream clubs on every weekend, you can buy it at the major record shops right at the door, you can even buy it at Tesco and get club card points! And I think this is a big thing for lot of people. They go for it as it is there, they like it as it is catchy and they have heard it already about fifty times over as back ground music. And guess what, they like it.

  Should this be changed? Well I can promise you that major labels will fight to the last living bone to hold on to their market. If they were to loose, I'm sure some one else would take their place and continue pretty much the same way. They are major corporations on the top of their industry, that's just the way it is. But what I do think is needed is some alternative to the old chart system to recognize the immense amount of talent out there. I am not talking about a free ticket to fame, but an opportunity for the independents to expose their music to the greater public. Especially in Ireland where we have such a great underground music scene. But until then, we just need to get out and go to a live shows, or surf on the YouTube for something bit more “interesting music”

  Happy new year to you all. May this be a year full of music:-)

Glory to the World - Single - J.P. Kallio