We’re in the post-internet era,
What do I mean by that? The innovation, the bubble, is over. As for cryptocurrency, it took so long to mature that the governments are now involved, regulating or talking about doing that, whereas the goal of crypto was to obviate the need for banks and governments.
Let’s see. You were on AOL. You got a high-speed connection. You got a smartphone. You’re on social media. There was tumultuous change and now it’s over, not that you’ll hear this from Silicon Valley. Expect minor steps, not great leaps forward, techies were sideshows in the seventies and early eighties and they’re going back to that role. I mean why should we be listening to Marc Andreessen, who told Zuckerberg to stand up to the criticism of Facebook. It’s a family, it circles the wagons, and you’re not a member. In other words, these tech billionaires are the enemy. And if Elon Musk doesn’t stop acting like an evil buffoon, he’s going to wreck Tesla. I mean who wants to be associated with a company run by a guy like that?
And then there’s Belarus. Where the president installed his girlfriend in the government. Only reminded me of America, where Trump pardoned Steve Bannon and Roger Stone, it’s gotten so bad we just shrug our shoulders. And we wonder how Germany got away with the Holocaust…it was in the news, but the average person just didn’t care. As for governments…
The U.S. can’t even manage Covid, what are the odds it’s got a lock on anything else?
That’s what Covid has taught us. If there’s anybody home, they’re not in control. Hell, the CDC shortens quarantine days because of pressure from business. And they ask doubters to respect the science?
Yes, no one is in control, no one has that much power, and those who had power and control in the past don’t want to admit this, never mind see it publicized.
TikTok had more traffic than Google. Think about that, once upon a time Google was a panacea. Now no one goes beyond the first page of results. As for TikTok…you know it’s time-stamped. Social networks are cool and then they’re not, they’re fads. When it’s still new, when the buzz is still occurring, everybody wants to make videos for TikTok. But once they realize views are low, considering the amount of effort involved, they’re gonna stop. Happens each and every time.
But my point is these people on TikTok are today’s stars. Certainly not actors, who can no longer open a movie, and certainly not musicians.
The record industry. Quick, who runs the companies? And if you know that, and even insiders in the music industry don’t, you can’t name the VPs. Because they’re irrelevant, they’re worker bees, that paradigm of the all powerful record company, changing the culture, is kaput. All of its controlled tools faded away. First, record stores. Then TV. Then terrestrial radio.
Those were the good old days, the days of record stores, BECAUSE IT WAS A CONTROLLED UNIVERSE! Not only was distribution a huge hurdle, floorspace was limited, which meant most legacy acts were not stocked whatsoever, or had just a greatest hits package, today was unthinkable, when 66% of streams are catalog. I mean just try competing against Led Zeppelin and the Beatles. As for those inured to the 808… God, you’re using a forty year old fake drum/clap sound and trying to pawn it as hip? Who do you expect to believe this?
And then you’ve got the oldsters, still fighting the old wars. Streaming, payments. These topics are already dead, and soon those bitching about them will be too. The classic rock acts can’t get arrested with new material and SiriusXM bumped Sixties on 6 to channel 73. After all, if you remember the sixties exactly how old are you?
While we were focused on Trump, and then Covid, the whole world changed. It became further decentralized, and not only in politics. There is no such thing as universal reach anymore, every act/band is a cottage industry. You try to grow your audience…AND THAT’S IT!
There is nowhere to cross over to. Terrestrial radio is a backwater riddled with commercials that is only listened to by the aged and the cheap. These are people who don’t even have a streaming music subscription. You should just forget them. They’re not active consumers, and now it’s all about the activity. They’ve got to listen, they’ve got to buy tickets and merch, otherwise the economics don’t work.
As for TV… SNL and “CBS Sunday Morning” move the needle a little, but the rest of the late night programs are worthless for spreading music. Hell, look at the ratings, not only are there too many talk shows, there are too many shows period! And the thought of watching them in real time… If anything good happens, we’ll hear about it the next day and watch it online. That’s the game late night TV is playing. As for having your own TV show… Ratings are bad and so is the pay. All those old goals you were building towards…they’ve been lopped off, they mean almost nothing.
As for TikTok…it’s about creativity, it’s not static. Music can contain these elements, but it has not changed with the times. Recorded music is static. Want to satiate your fans? Constantly release alternative recordings/mixes/new tracks. Don’t spend so much time getting it exactly right, the idea is paramount, as it always is in pop culture. Don’t bother comping the vocals, no one cares.
So everybody on TikTok is a star. There are fewer barriers to entry than there are in traditional entertainment. You make it on your identity and charisma, the penumbra is irrelevant. That’s how it is today, you’re selling YOURSELF!
And everybody on TikTok thinks they’re equal to the recording stars, the politicos, the so-called rich and famous. They know they’ve been excluded from that game, but without their purchasing power the old game doesn’t exist, but they still get no respect.
So no matter who you are online, a saint, you’re gonna have haters.
And then there are those gaming the system, trying to get ahead. Hell, they can’t even eradicate spam, what are the odds they’re gonna get rid of the scamsters? Your “bank” texted you for your password recently? As for less spam in your inbox, that’s at the price of the good stuff being weeded out. You hear all this talk about the power of newsletters, but everybody with a newsletter knows it’s almost impossible to reach the public. Gmail puts your missives in spam and…god forbid you use profanity, then you’re toast, nothing will get through.
As for Substack… Ever check the numbers? They’re anemic!
As for building an audience…that’s the hardest part. A household name sports outlet went deep on podcasting, but they were lucky if the podcasts hit four digits. That’s right…A THOUSAND LISTENERS!
As for the people you think are stars… You don’t have to hear Billie Eilish if you don’t want to, never mind Adele. You’re not exposed the way you used to be, never mind AM radio in the sixties or MTV in the eighties. There is no center anymore!
That’s what Covid has taught us. Today, the “New York Times” printed a chart showing that most Covid infections per capita are in red states, where vaccination rates are lower. It’s not rocket science, but the truth can no longer compete with fiction. Then there’s that woman who went to an antivax rally and boasted she had Covid and her husband was in the hospital for it, but it was harmless. You can’t make this stuff up, or maybe this story was fake, despite the footage, how do you know? I mean those people with incredible editing skills on TikTok are CHILDREN!
And the biggest star to die is John Madden. Bigger than the passing of Harry Reid. And you know why…BECAUSE HE WAS HONEST! He didn’t censor himself, he went deeper into the game, we crave authenticity and knowledge, but this is what the old media barons say we can’t handle as they manipulate us. Duplicity is rampant in America.
So, despite being able to find likeminded people online, don’t get the impression that your club is known outside its borders. Just because Phish sells out arenas, don’t get the impression there are millions of diehard Phish fans, hell, there may only be 20,000, going to each and every gig! But at least Phish engenders this belief, most new acts do not, and then they wonder why they’re not rich.
First and foremost, you can’t get rich making music. Hell, it’s hard to get rich at all. Used to be you could start at the bottom and then ring the bell at the top, now you’re playing the lottery, there are too many barriers to upward mobility.
And it’s only going to get murkier.
This is the new reality. An overload of input that no one can make sense of. We want order, which is why people vote for authoritarians, but the truth is there can’t be, there’s just too much stuff in the pipeline. You’ve got your life, your career, and that’s it. There’s almost no context. You’re on your own. And you can feel as good about yourself being a star online as you can plying the boards as a traditional entertainer. Never forget, most musical stars make the music themselves and it’s a hit online before the label signs them. The label is a MARKETING ENTERPRISE!
As for live… There’s nobody everybody wants to see. Let’s see, you go on a nationwide stadium tour. Fifty dates at 50,000, even though no one can do that. That means you played to 2,500,000 people, in a country of 340 million. Not too good. And Garth Brooks has proven this. To keep prices low he plays as many gigs as are needed to satiate demand. And then he has to move on, there’s no one else left who wants to see him!
And Garth was built under the old model.
Today’s stars are laughable compared to those of yore, flavors of the moment like Dua Lipa. Next year it will be someone else, but the point is you can’t reach everybody if you’re just selling entertainment, you’ve got to sell more, excellence and gravitas, and then you still can’t reach everybody!
The Tower of Babel is here. Right now. It’s arrived. There’s plenty of money to be made serving a relatively small audience, but if you think you can reach everybody, you’re out of touch and dreaming. And it’s not going to get better, only worse. Hits are gonna shrink. Because everybody has their own taste and limited time. Choices are seemingly endless. And if it’s not on demand, at a low price, it’s a nonstarter.
But you won’t hear this from the purveyors.
You won’t even hear it from the government. Elected officials are afraid of offending…exactly who? No one really knows. Is this a center right or center left or progressive country? How big is the right? Polls are more inaccurate than ever before. Everybody’s planning their actions on false data.
The past keeps sliding by. The year 2000 was TWO DECADES AGO! If you’re in college today not only do you not remember 9/11, you don’t remember the meltdown of 2008! Yes, everything changed while you weren’t looking. And it’s going to continue to change. Unless you live in China, where you can only play videogames for so long, they persecute religious minorities to extinction and they can build infrastructure in nearly a minute. It’s the iron fist of Xi. Which many people want in America. They want someone to make sense out of the chaos. And when someone comes along and says they will, watch out. Because people are sick of the mealy-mouthed and always prone to the deceptions of snake oil salesman.
We are not going backward, this is where we are, forget the past, it’s nearly irrelevant, everything’s up for grabs in today’s society, it’s utter chaos, and unless you accept this you’re doomed.