There’s a fiction that everybody cares, they do not.
That’s what sank the Grammys. Sure, they went young, but the belief that all young people care about these acts is plain wrong. Not that you’d expect an organization influenced by the major labels to understand that.
The ratings for everything are falling. Not only awards shows and sports. We all had to pay for ESPN on our cable system. Turns out many people don’t even want a cable subscription, they can live without sports entirely! But I thought baseball was the national pastime, I thought football was up front and center in the culture of America, embedded in our psyches, turns out that’s not true!
But we keep being told they are. Because of the investment of the perpetrators and a media that in many cases is blind to the truth and when it comes to anything other than hard news is peopled by reporters so inured to the activity, or such rubes, that the truth never outs.
Let’s go back to Adele. “21” sold ten times its competitors. One has to ask, how popular was the competition? But that was ten years ago.
As for music, every week a manipulated chart is released to the press that references sales in a world where most people don’t even have a CD player, and despite the hype about a return to vinyl, the truth is a gross number is published, not a net, and when it comes down to actual sales numbers, the consumption is de minimis compared to streaming.
As for streaming… Spotify has gone on record that the pool of money keeps reaching further down. In other words, hit acts are getting less of it. And catalog keep growing. But that’s lost in the shuffle of the narrative that Spotify is the devil and is ripping off artists when that’s patently untrue. As for remuneration of “artists,” I point you to OnlyFans, which gets little press because it’s dominated by porn. Everybody now has an OnlyFans account, your next door neighbor. Women throughout the country are displaying their bodies in search of cash, but there’s not enough cash to go around. The “New York Times” did an exploration of this:
“Jobless, Selling Nudes Online and Still Struggling – OnlyFans, a social media platform that allows people to sell explicit photos of themselves, has boomed during the pandemic. But competition on the site means many won’t earn much.”: https://nyti.ms/3eLdP3m
But to really know what is going on you must go to Reddit, where these women advertise their wares ad infinitum. Furthermore, because of the disinformation campaign, half of America discounts the “New York Times,” they trust opinion bloviation on the flat screen and rampant falsehoods online so the truth cannot get out. Which is funny, because the entertainment business has been built on falsehoods, they call it hype. You make up a story and people believe it. Did Frank Zappa really take a crap on stage? Of course not! But that’s a rumor that has sustained over fifty years, never mind what has come thereafter.
As for the declines in entertainment and sports ratings… The “Wall Street Journal,” has done a good job, along with the “Times,” of delineating them, after all it’s business. But the “Wall Street Journal” is behind a paywall, despite all this repetition of the falsehood that information wants to be free, because the rest of that aphorism is that information wants to be expensive! God, if people can’t get a statement like that right for decades, what are the odds truth is well-disseminated and well-known? And no, Hunter Thompson did not say the music business is a “cruel and shallow money trench,” etc. Thompson did write, but it was about TV, and he did not say “There’s also a negative side.” Read the truth here: https://bit.ly/3cHV9yX But you’d rather wallow in your delusion, believing you know best and are better than those who believe in Trump when you’re just as susceptible to disinformation and falsehoods, never mind the truth hiding in plain sight, all over the web.
But it’s easier to just say awards shows are dead. Or that baseball must be quicker. Or the NBA is sans stars most people can relate to. Or the NHL always had limited appeal. The truth is the head of the pin is shrinking, while the pin itself gets ever longer, not that those at the end of the pin can make bucks. The truth is at the end of the pin you’ve got tracks posted to Spotify that have never ever been listened to, not even by the artists’ parents!
Come on, watch the Grammys. Do you truly think most people care about these acts? As for the awards themselves, in an era where acts like Mariah Carey compete with the Beatles for most number ones and awards are given out like candy, we’re supposed to be impressed that Beyonce tied or broke some record? Most of the public has never ever heard her latest music, if any of her music at all!
If you’re atop the Spotify Top 50, you get in the neighborhood of a million plays a day. Now, if you’re a fan of an act, how many times do you play their music? Especially if you’re young. And you might even have it on in the background. There’s a very good chance that a hundred thousand people are playing the track ten times. And the next day, it’s not a different hundred thousand, but many of the same people. And we live in a country of 328.2 million. As for number 50, it gets fewer than half of the streams of number 1.
And then we’ve got concert tours. Let’s say you go on the road and play 50 dates at 50 arenas. Let’s say there are 20,000 seats available and you sell out, when the truth is it’s a very rare arena that’s got that many seats. That means you played to a million fans. In a country of 328.2 million? That’s nothing! And Garth Brooks has illustrated that demand is not unlimited. He plays in a city until demand is filled, to keep ticket prices low, he does not play for months, he doesn’t even play for one month, most people just have no interest in seeing him!
But Garth made it in the old days.
And the old days were very different. There was no streaming TV. Today, unless you’re on SNL or “CBS Sunday Morning” an appearance generates nothing…other than a high quality video. And SNL doesn’t sell an act as much as it shows the rest of the industry that it’s a priority. Still, people grovel for late night appearances. And the ratings of these shows keep going down, as the pie keeps growing. There’s the Jimmys and Colbert, never mind their competitors. In the reign of Carson, no one could compete, no one! Dick Cavett had a run appealing to intellectuals, but that was relatively brief. Now, with choice, turns out people would rather watch someone else, never mind not watch at all. Jimmy Fallon, who has national mindshare because of his SNL appearances in the old days, draws fewer than two million people a night. Can we stop hearing about him and his show! And ratings of these late night shows were propped up by Trump, now they’re falling.
But even worse is music. In the old days radio was king. Terrestrial radio is a pauper today, but not if you listen to the disinformation spread by the industry ad infinitum. You can’t find someone under twenty who listens to terrestrial radio, but the industry keeps telling us this is untrue. Meanwhile, being the easiest platform to manipulate, which reaches the most people, despite fewer than ever before, major labels concentrate on radio, make it seem important when it is not. As for satellite radio… SiriusXM has 34.91 million paying subscribers. But it also has over 150 channels. That’s what people are paying for, choice and no commercials on music channels. Do you think all 34.91 million are tuning into the same channel at the same time? Do you think all 34.91 million are actually listening all the time? Of course not! SiriusXM is a modern product, with nearly unlimited choice, otherwise people wouldn’t subscribe. As for politics…it has both left and right! It’s a big country out there.
And then there are the old days of record sales… The Eagles and Michael Jackson sold in excess of 30 million of one album! In the nineties, 10 million sales were de rigueur! They even had to invent a new sales award for that plateau, “diamond.” There hasn’t been a diamond record in forever, no one can reach that many people. Never mind in those days not only was radio still key, there was only one MTV, one national station that everybody tuned into, a veritable monoculture. So if you made it prior to the internet, chances are you can still tour today, that’s how impactful your music was. Quick, check the chart from ten years ago…can any of these acts even sell a ticket, never mind in a prodigious number?
Turns out people don’t only hate commercials, if they’re under 60, they live in a pure on demand world. And what they want is so varied. Music used to be everything in the sixties, there was very little competition for mindshare. Today? Music is background to many, who cares about the music and lives of these self-promoting nincompoops constantly trolling for dollars and telling us about it. Which is why acts keep popping from TikTok. Turns out the public wants to be involved, and the public oftentimes has different interests than the so-called titans of industry. Is there any label whatsoever who would have signed Lil Nas X? Of course not! He had to make it and promote it himself. And in a fast-moving world he will never reach that pinnacle of mindshare ever again. He created a novelty hit pumped up by the industry and the media into a fake controversy about blacks in country music. There’s little there there. Which makes sense in a world where the performers are ever younger and surrounded by a team to create their product. Come on, the Beatles did not need a team. They had the band, a producer and an engineer. They didn’t need outside writers, never mind ones for the beat and another for the lyrics. Sometimes you get so far from the garden that there’s no there there!
Dua Lipa makes music to move your body to. It’s nice. But if you’re looking to her for answers…you must be an uneducated nitwit. Post Malone is a rocker who went hip-hop to break through and now we’re not sure who or what he is, never mind those inane face tattoos that make him look like a freak. How hard can hip-hop be then? Which is one attraction of the format, it’s more of a democracy, the trophy is passed around, but if you’re not in the scene do you really care? As for the face tattoos…you can call me an oldster all day long, but you’re never going to be able to get a job at Apollo with those. And if you don’t know what Apollo is, or BlackRock, the joke is on you. Certainly everybody at the elite institutions does, they want a job there upon graduation, and everybody in the financial sector. But the public does not. And most don’t even care, they’re too busy down in their own niche!
Yes, we have endless stimulation, information at our fingertips.
There are over 300+ magazines on Apple News+. I guarantee you there’s not a person in the world who’s got the same favorites as me. I subscribe to 63 publications. You can’t tell me of a single person who ever had that many print subscriptions, never ever. And how many people even have an Apple News+ subscription? The number is low. And irrelevant of the cost, I can tell you there’s not much there. Turns out many publications are just b.s., filler by freelancers in between high gloss ads. The writing is bad and oftentimes the writers are far from experts. As for “Billboard”… Never have this many blind incompetents constructed a magazine. Yes, you get “Billboard” with Apple News+. It reads like press releases written by junior high school students. But it calls itself the “Bible.” For whom, the illiterate? And the industry quotes its aforementioned manipulated numbers, there’s almost nothing there! As for “Rolling Stone”…it’s behind a paywall, resulting in instant marginalization. And it’s branched out into product recommendation, never mind allowing people to pay for inclusion: https://bit.ly/30StJRr I tweeted that, it had no impact, no legs, despite my having 67,400 followers. Not only are a ton inactive, the truth is Twitter is an endless firehose and most people never see your tweets, even if they’re following you!
You want to make it to the top. But the truth is the top doesn’t even exist anymore. Nothing has that level of mindshare, nothing! Other than politics. Because that truly impacts people’s lives. Not entertainment fodder, not as presently constructed. Then again, story is still king, and if you do it right people will still be riveted to the flat screen. But how many other people are watching the Turkish drama that is so true to life that I’m loving it right now? Not many!
If you’ve got anybody interested in your work, give yourself a pat on the back. And the truth is very little builds. And once you build it, don’t expect to become dominant. At best you can become someone in your niche, like jam band music. You can have fans, you can make a good living, but most people will never hear of you, and you’ll never get on the Grammy stage. And if for some reason you do and you expect it to blow up your career? The laugh will be on you. There’s nothing we can’t ignore in today’s world. Nothing!
It’s not like the lights have not been flashing. Bruce Springsteen sang of 57 channels, now there are too many channels to count! As for Springsteen himself, people know his name, as a result of MTV. But not only do his records have few listeners, he doesn’t sell out everywhere. Yes, Bruce Springsteen! We don’t even have to evaluate the music, most people just don’t care!
The internet offered seemingly infinite choice. And not only from the professionals. Turns out you could generate your own content, which can be very fulfilling. Yet, the old institutions keep repeating the old formulas like nothing has changed. Come on, think about it. An almost four hour TV show featuring multiple acts in different genres all fawning over each other over irrelevant awards, with endless commercials interspersed? And if you are interested in music, there’s a good chance the kind you prefer wasn’t even included.
We live in a completely different world and no one will acknowledge this. The “New York Times” has 7.5 million subscribers. Tell me, why should I pay nearly as much to subscribe to the local rag, which is thin and nowhere near the quality? The L.A. “Times” is the size of a pamphlet and the entertainment section, which isn’t even published every day, is often just an extension of the entertainment industrial complex. Who needs that? Not many. Which is why subscriptions are so low.
But the inane people in the news industry keep saying we need to save these papers. Why? We need local news, but they’re doing a piss-poor job of covering and disseminating it.
We’re living in an era of chaos, we’re all in our own little worlds. For twenty years, the internet wreaked havoc, disrupting and destructing. Now the dust has settled, why do we think everything is the same as it ever was? The disruption has calmed down. Now it’s about content. We, as a society, are trying to figure it out. One thing is for sure, everybody in the old, pre-disrupted world, is doing their best to cling to the old model instead of facing the truth and marching into the future. And they keep telling us they’re important and we should pay attention WHEN MOST PEOPLE DON’T EVEN CARE!