My latest briefing paper on culture, arts & society
"In other words, industry insiders learned the wrong lesson from the Swift episode."
I'm waiting for the moment when an insider learns the right lesson! Might be here for a long, long while though.
And I hope that as people lose faith in the web, they slowly integrate back in the real world and we can bring some balance back into humanity.
The record companies have always been thugs. But since the explosion of thug training programs in the 80s -- what we call MBAs -- we've seen exploitative and mercenary behavior across industry. (Speaking as someone who attended one of those appalling programs.)
Great potpourri, Ted, as usual.
I abandoned google several years ago, after too many paid search results filling the first page. When I worked in the online industry, I learned how few people searching on google ever went to a second page or beyond (or scrolled to the bottom of a page, although phones and tablets have now trained users to scroll to their own doom).
I've been using duck duck go for searching, and as a web browser from time to time. It isn't easy to break out of the google vice, particularly if you like the apps like google docs and google earth, which I find useful. And hey, learning to use the docs programs permitted me to deep six all the Microsoft products I needed when I was a working stiff. Delete one behemoth and embrace another.... and so it goes.
As artists we've been told "find your niche" and that we can thrive with just 1000 true fans. But when we find our niche, how do we get our potential 1000 true fans to find it also?
So the Age of Enlightenment is being eclipsed by the Age of Poo, not Pooh. To bad.
I've probably commented about this on one of your articles before, but I'll say it again.
When I was starting out with band nearly 19 years ago, I had an opportunity through a friend to have a meeting with the VP of Membership at ASCAP at the time (of which I'm a member). I was asking him for advice as my band had started to garner some attention. I distinctly remember him saying "Whatever you do, do not sign with a label." I was confused at the time - I couldn't see the long view. He followed up with a formula that has stuck with me. "Write, Record, Release, Perform, Repeat."
It's all made sense since then, and Taylor Swift illustrates why. If a label drops you, they own the sound recording. They can shelve it. They can do whatever they want - they own it. If they make you big, they can take you down. And not everyone is mega star rich enough to redo all their records.
The good news is the technology to have production sound like the majors is at just about everyone's fingertips now with virtual gear. It's definitely a good time for doing it yourself. And if you do it yourself, no one else can claim responsibility for your success, and no one can take it away from you.
Knowing companies I have issues with are in deep financial shit is somehow heartening.
Ah, the lowly browns. Dissed for their unrepentant earthiness, as usual, though the piety of their poverty still attracts some. But really, to reduce it all to poo, what pigment challenged eyesight!
Who doesn’t love the chestnut mare of the artists palette—Burnt Sienna. Or the spring mud of Raw Umber. Or the brunette mane of Burnt Umber. My god man, what would you say to a visual artist who said he didn’t like flat notes?
I’ll leave you with this lovely quotation about brown paper from G. K. Chesterton’s famous essay called “A Piece of Chalk.” Draw on it with white chalk or paint on it with acrylic, and you too can have the scales fall from your eyes!
“I not only liked brown paper, but liked the quality of brownness in paper, just as I like the quality of brownness in October woods, or in beer. Brown paper represents the primal twilight of the first toil of creation and with a bright-coloured chalk or two you can pick out points of fire in it, sparks of gold, and blood-red, and sea-green, like the first fierce stars that sprang out of divine darkness.”
these companies are "struggling" only if the target is ever increasing growth, more profits every quarter, so satisfy a bunch of analysts on Wall Street. what's wrong with just making billions of dollars year after year? remember when famous chefs had like one fucking restaurant instead of 20 in ten time zones while doing TV and selling shit online? Okay Disney doesn't want to lose billions making movies that flop, but if they only had the theme parks they'd still be a solid company. making money the old fashioned way. as opposed to umpteen digital/crypto ones that have never turned a profit but somehow always manage to find more billions from banks and investors until the zit pops.
I wouldn't worry so much about Apple and Disney, a better question is who's the next Theranos/WeWork/FTX out there?
As usual a great mix. Thanks, Professor Gioia! re: Our Lady of Infinite Sorrows. In another less wholesome incarnation, I worked in nightclubs in NYC. One night, a couple of years after I'd managed to slither out of that net, I ran into an acquaintance from the demimonde who insisted I go to see the former coat-check girl from Danceteria who he said was going to be "huge, man, I mean absolutely massive." It was Madonna, who, along with a troupe of hip-hopish dancers skipped and shimmied around a nightclub stage with a DJ backing them up. I don't recall if she was singing to a backing track, but my increasingly defective memory sees her lip-synching. Obviously unhip and off the beam, I was somewhere between underwhelmed and appalled. I definitely didn't see her as the future "Queen of Pop," although the audience of largely gay men went wild for her. Given that she didn't have a record out then, I imagine it was economical for her to use recorded music, also trendy when having a DJ on stage when scratching etc, was still a bit "street." So rather the "recontectualizing" her catalogue she may just be going back to her roots. Or she may just be cheap. I wish I could say something nice about her, but I see her indeed "massive" effect on pop music and culture as malignant; in my mind her ascendance will always be associated with the ascendance of the cruel, vulgarity of the Reagan-Thatcher years.
when Madonna appeared on the scene, all those many years ago, she sang of "Blonde Ambition" and being a "Material Girl"
she was manufactured for the Reagan Generation
Insightful on all fronts. I do wonder what music is evolving into. So much is ubiquitous. You have to be deliberate in your listening choices or you'll become bored.
The company has spent far too much time and money trying to bypass Hollywood and do everything itself. But, as these numbers show, Netflix still relies mostly on guesswork and luck.
I kinda think this is more or less what we want. Sure the business types don't want it. They want reliable income, which entails taking few risks, using established brands, and reliable plots. But is that what we, the viewer wants. I recall watching a video humorously titled "Who Killed Cinema?" recommended by someone that complained about these very things.
So, guesswork requires failure. It used to be, at least, that VCs in Silicon Valley recognized that only one in five of the projects they backed would be a success, and they were ok with that.
I love a good brown. For me, it conjures up images of oak, chestnut, and other earthy things, not the business we do in the smallest rooms in our houses. What about all the lovely brown-eyed girls, Ted? Of course, one could also say that black is the color of cockroaches, oil spills, and Dick Cheney's heart, so it all depends on how you look at it, I guess . . .
So what Ted is saying is "it was capitalism all along!". I suspect the reason Madonna is not employing a band is that at her age her voice is likely failing (not an ageist comment, simply a fact of life) and that she is in fact miming to her old tracks and not singing them live. Can't do that with a band.
I'm not sure that musicians reach their peak before 30. At best that statement can only apply to pop/rock genre musicians. One of the reasons that first albums are so good is because the musicians have worked on those songs for years and years before they even get a label to glance their way. It's very often the case that the first album is astoundingly good. Then there is pressure to release a second album in, say, a year. Then everyone says "meh, not as good as the first, the band is a one hit wonder". Then, there is also the case that as musicians they get bored with what is popular and will push the boundaries more and more. Things might get a little or a lot experimental and while this may be exciting to the musos it's often not the easiest listening. This doesn't really fly in the popular music space. The exact opposite is true in jazz where the audience is capable of and willing to follow you into uncharted and exciting territory.
I just read your post I might relate to Madonna CEO and Netflix plus Americans contacting with dead I will leave without any comment ))😎
When it comes to greed of Madonna i would argue. She is weak singer but a great performer! According to me she is one of the hardest working and controlling her biz ppl. She's lonely, everything, her family is only for show! In my opinion she deserved such a price she lives NOT LIKE Johnny Depp 7 houses, Iceland... And debts only. She spends money very wisely. In my opinion she is not greedy, she was in the age of 50 looking like my grandmother in the age of 70 . Someone took her a photo once she was going down the street, didn't have to change her look, noone recognise her. Old, wrinkled, very sad, face, emptiness in her eyes and solitude and the only thing that left to her is a movie and celebrating 🥳🎉 to prove the World and most of all herself that she still means SOMETHING!!! That's it in short. I've been following her since 90ties. Trying to be objective. I think I am. Not a first time by the way I saw her sadness after flashes ended. She was struggling for better life, trying variety of things. No result but ppl read about it. Everything for show. True. But this is the only thing She has got! I hope she will be celebrating more and more dekads of her hard working.