Monday, January 25, 2010

Pay No Attention To That Man Behind The Curtain!!

I love twitter. If you are reading this blog, it's probably because you read a twit I posted directing you here. I like to use it as like a mini live journal, a place to try out my awful jokes and a place to poll public opinion. Earlier in the week I asked this question:

How would you feel if you found out your favorite song by your favorite band wasn't actually written by them?

I received an array of responses. Here are a few that I thought were interesting:

"Depends. If the band claims its theirs then I'd be mad. If they are up front about being performers that use writers, I'd be ok."

"A good song is a good song. I'd definitely want to hear the writer(s) perform it though."

"I would shit bricks."

"I don't think it would change my opinion all that much, I think it's the performance of it that counts.

"No big deal."

"That would suck a lot. The reason why I like listening to bands is because they write their own songs."

"It would no longer be my favorite song, and I'm not sure they'd be my favorite band anymore."

"Then its a cover."

"That happened to me the other day. I still love the song, but it made me question every other song they've created."

"If its a cover and I didn't know; as long as it was better than the origional I wouldn't care. Otherwise that's really lame."

"Like when I found out Miley (Cyrus) didn't write 'Party in the USA?' Absolutely crushed."

Even though that last quote made me chuckle a little, I was surprised that it was roughly 50/50 on caring versus not caring. Bottom line is a good song is a good song, right? Well....Yes and No.

Yes because immediately when you hear a song you like, it moves you. Something about that particular song, whether it's the melody, the beat, the lyric, something about the song makes you want to hear that song again. After the second time through the chorus if you find yourself singing along to key words and the melody, chances are it's a good song. Before the days of videos (yes, they existed and yes, I remember them) it seemed the song had to stand on it's own. Remember Christopher Cross? Not handsome. Music was marketed a different way in those days. More radio and press driven, seemingly. I was just a kid when MTV started, so my views on the music industry prior to it's existence are totally skewed. I'd love to sit down with people from that era and ask how it all "went down", but considering terms like "payola" were invented in the 1950's, I have to think one common thread that ties the timeline of the industry together is and always has been money.

Don't know what "payola" is? Look it up. Things have been fucked for a lot longer than people think.

So in my warped perception of pop music's past, as a kid I always thought that all artists wrote their own songs and then performed them. Period. The End.

But did Diana Ross write all the songs for The Supremes? Nope.

Did Micheal Jackson write the songs for the Jackson 5? Or even for his own records? No sir.

So why should it be so shocking to hear that Hannah Montana didn't write "Party In The USA"?

Real Talk. What's really the difference between MJ and Miley? I'm not talking about physical differences, records sold or length of career. I'm talking about the basic formula of what MJ and Miley are: pop stars. Both were children who displayed talent at a young age and whose parents pushed them to pursue it. Talented singers. Talented performers. Both built their fame on television and radio and both with a team of musical masterminds and career advisors around them selecting material "suitable" for them. The head of the team, who is often called "producer", "executive producer" or "A&R", knows that no shirts, tickets, pillow cases, lunch boxes, backpacks or records (Gasp! SELL records??) will ever be sold if the music on the pop star's record sucks. So how could they possibly leave the catalyst behind the entire plan in the hands of this mean artist?

Now wait a minute. I always thought that the "artist" was the person who created the art. I went and looked up the definition of the word "artist." There were 6 total definitions. I highlighted the "key words":

1. a person who produces works in any of the arts that are primarily subject to aesthetic criteria.
2. a person who practices one of the fine arts, esp. a painter or sculptor.
3. a person whose trade or profession requires a knowledge of design, drawing, painting, etc.: a commercial artist.
4. a person who works in one of the performing arts, as an actor, musician, or singer; a public performer: a mime artist; an artist of the dance.
5. a person whose work exhibits exceptional skill.
6. a person who is expert at trickery or deceit.

Definition six sort of sticks out, huh?

Definition one makes total sense. That's what I've always thought the word meant. But definition six blew my mind. An expert in trickery! I never knew that was an option. The example sentence given for this meaning of the word was "He's an artist with cards." I guess by that account you could say some bands are "artists with other people's songs." However, definition four makes definitions one and six cancel each other out. If I accept DEFINITION NUMBER 4 as my default meaning of artist, then everyone involved in the writing, production and performing of a modern pop act, like Miley or Britney or Christina or even the late great Micheal Jackson, are all considered "artists".

I have to admit: for a guy like me who has spent my entire life studying and actually going as far as getting a degree in music, the last sentence pisses me right the fuck off. I'm certain that if you are a person in a band writing original material, you might be just as offended. A lot of these so called "artists" couldn't even tell you what key they're hit song is in. Some may not even know what a key is. POSERS!! They perform a song that isn't their creation and get all the accolades for it. I don't need someone to tell me that Miley Cyrus didn't write that song. WE KNOW. By now everyone has seen American Idol. None of those clowns coming into their audition for Simple Simon are singing their original songs. If they do, chances are they won't be making it "to Hollywood, dog."

Very few on the artists' team of consultants (who will be refered to as "they") will say that that having writers is wrong or weird. They believe that getting the best product possible is the most important thing. I can agree with them on that. I've always said the difference between a good band and a great band is the record they make. But, now it has become standard for people to co-write that I feel like as long as you have a pretty face you have a better chance of getting signed than a band who is out in the trenches trying to carve their own path. It doesn't matter if a band writes their own songs anymore. As long as it's a good song wrapped up in a good looking package, they figure you'll buy it. At least that's what they think. I mean, no offense to YOU, but a real record company guy like Lyor Cohen doesn't give a shit about your feelings. Wait, that's not totally true. He cares about your feelings, but only those specific to the product he is pushing. He cares so he can hopefully get your money. By any means necessary.

If we look at it from the song writers perspective, they are usually pretty stoked. And should be! The college I attended had an entire major devoted to professional songwriting. Some very good friends of mine have written songs for other bands. Some of those songs have been hits. Some not so much. Some should have been. But hey. It's a tough business. These writers are the musicians and who I think should be getting all the attention. But sometimes the "image" of these songwriters is not what They think will sell. Other times the songwriters aren't very good live performers. It's safe to say that to gain "maximum exposure" for a song, the muse isn't always the correct choice: enter the PERFORMING ARTIST. As much as you may say "I'd be pissed if my favorite band didn't write their songs!" Actually, no, you wouldn't. If the plan goes off without a hitch, you'd never even know. Remember: If the songs are good, the songs are good. The music industry is based on smoke and mirrors. Tricks.

"He's an artist with cards."

I wonder if I should just start listing off the bands that have co-written or had successful songs that were written by other people. Would it matter? Would it make the songs not as good anymore? I don't know. All it would probably do is start a shit storm on some "music" website or message board. I'd probably loose a few friends because they'd be embarrassed to admit they didn't write their songs. To be completely honest I didn't choose this subject to call out bands. Bands make their own decisions on what direction they take their career. I can't speak for them and I won't judge them. But I can talk about my own experience.

My band co-wrote. We're not afraid to admit it or talk about it. One of the most popular songs we ever released as a band was a co-write with Mark Hoppus. I love Mark and enjoyed working with him. I will admit that when my manager at the time asked how I felt about co-writing, my response to him was "What the fuck are these people gonna to teach me about songwriting that I don't already know?" I should have know I'd eat those words. For what it was worth, it was a great learning experience and I learned a bunch of different techniques that I would have never thought of on my own when it came to composing. For that, I'm appreciative. For the flack we got for doing it and openly admitting it; not so much. We did what we thought was right for our career. I'll never apologize for that.

So go ahead. You want ask it. OK. I'll ask it. "Then who's song is it?" My response is "That is a Less Than Jake song."

Yes, Mark wrote part of it. We took his original idea, transformed it, changed lyrics, rearranged it, played it and finally "owned" it. It's not a Mark Hoppus song featuring Less Than Jake. It's also not a Less Than Jake song featuring Mark Hoppus. It's a Less Than Jake song. Period.

So does that mean "Party in The USA" a Miley Cyrus song? Absolutely.

That song is a great song. What if it was the composer performing the song? I bet it wouldn't have gotten as much attention. In the pop world, it's the combination of the right parts put together that creates hits. Just so you know, a producer named Lukasz "Dr. Luke" Gottwald was the mastermind behind "Party". Look at the songs he's had a part of. You'll be surprised. While you're searching around, look up another songwriter named Desmond Child. Now THAT guy wrote some hits! The composers of these songs are the real artists here in my eyes, but no one cares about those guys. And with the amount of money they have most likely made, they probably don't give a crap about not being in the spotlight. And for real, most people are too busy checking out Miley's jean shorts and cowboy boots in the video or "nodding my head like yeah" to the track to really care who made it all happen. You're just glad it happened.

To you bands out there who are writing your own songs, keep doing it. But please stop being angry at artists like Lady GaGa and The Jonas Brothers. They deserve to be here playing their music just as much as you do. Both of the aforementioned acts are fantastic performers and if you don't agree, turn the "ego switch" off, take a look at it again. You can enjoy a magic show even if you know they are just illusions being performed, right? It's about the show to me. Live is the difference maker. What these pop acts are doing on stage I could never do. Love it or hate it, just respect it because you probably couldn't do it either. Take your jealousy and turn it into motivation, you will benefit. Promise.

And to you bands who are co-writing don't use it as a crutch and let someone else write for you. Use it as as classroom. Learn what these song writers do. Listen to your favorite songs and analyze them. Figure out what makes it so damn cool. Figure out the chord progressions. Read the lyrics. Lyrics are probably the most difficult part of writing a song, the most important part and also the most often over looked. Do some research. If you like a song see who wrote it. Google search is an amazing invention. So is wikipedia. It's ok to know the truth on who wrote your favorite song. But don't be shocked if you choose to take the blue pill and look beyond the looking glass. Because when the wizard is revealed you'll realize that there was never really any wizard at all.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Revolution Will Not Be'll be on

I read an article last week in the New York Times about a 15 year old girl from New York City. According to the article, this young lady was grounded by her parents for 5 weeks for "drinking a beer at a party and getting home an hour late for curfew". Apparently, the young lady did not agree with her parents' sentencing for her crime. Before taking up the argument with her parents, she decided to gather some support for her position. She approached her pursuit with the same fire as a young attorney trying to win her first case would, including telling her mother that the grounding was against her "inalienable right for the pursuit of happiness."

The story goes that on the Monday her grounding commenced, Tess Chapin began a petition at her school and asked her classmates to sign it. When she got home that afternoon, she decided to move her petition to Facebook and started a group called "1000 People To Get Tess Ungrounded." Remarkably, by the next day, Tess had over 500 people following her page. By Friday, she had well over 800 followers and they weren't just people from her school. She only knew about 35% of the followers.

Whether or not you think this story is incredible or bullshit, it really got me thinking about just how powerful a tool the internet is. I always joke and say that the internet is for porn (thanks Avenue Q!), but it is much more than that. So much more, in fact, that a few years ago when Google first opened offices in China, the Chinese government demanded searches within the country be filtered and block links to certain websites. At first, the heads of Google, one of whom grew up in a communist run Soviet Union, were adamantly opposed. After many discussions, Google begrudgingly agreed, citing it was more important to have a censored version of Google available in the country ruled by communism for over 60 years, than not have it available at all.

Just recently, the Chinese government asked Google to not only censor searches on China's Google search engine (, but on ALL Google search engines. Google flat out refused. Last week, there was infiltration and cancelling of gmail accounts set up via China's Google service. These hackings were traced back to China and now Google is considering closing down and moving offices out of China. They are not the only site the Chinese government considers "a threat". Youtube, Facebook and Twitter are all considered equally as "dangerous", are heavily filtered, monitored and have not seen the growth that western investors had anticipated. But there is an underground movement rising up.

People are now figuring out ways to break through or go around these IP blockers and firewalls the government has set up. The one thing I've come to realize about the internet is that for every filter or firewall someone creates, there is someone else that is creating a program to make it invalid. This is a new revolution. This is a new battle. And this is most certainly a new battle field. It's a constant game of cat and mouse, good versus evil. China versus the internet is not only a new war, it is also the most unique.

This is a new kind of revolution. Revolutions in the past have been battled with guns, tanks and planes and cost millions of lives. This revolution is being waged with IP blockers, firewalls and tracking cookies, but costs far, far less in human carnage. A more "civil" war, if you will, but a revolution, nonetheless. Part of revolution is defeating tyranny. The Chinese government had mostly been able to conrtrol media within it's boarders. Along comes a new form of information transfer that NO ONE has really figured out how to censor and the old ways of censoring aren't working. They can't stop it. They can't even really contain it, but they are trying. In terms of weaponry for this war, the information available via the internet is like that of the greatest spys, toughest SEAL teams, largest armored battalion and most powerful atomic bomb all rolled into one. And far more damaging.

Think of the destruction the internet has caused: The entertainment industry is being ravaged by it; CD and DVD sales are fewer and fewer yearly...strike that....monthly. Online fraud has become so rampant that there is now a division for it's investigations in the FBI. The espionage industry has flourished from it. Random guys who just so happened to know how to create a "code breaker" program were even able to tap into our country's databases. The internet is a much more powerful tool than we could have ever anticipated it being. Because of the internet things we only dreamed of, like video chatting and GPS mapping, have become reality.

Even modern warfare has changed with the development of the internet. They use unmanned drones to drop bombs on selected targets that are flown by pilots sitting in front of computer screens on a secure internet connection. I am not taking ANYTHING away from the fine men and women who are currently serving our country. It is because of their diligence and hard work that we are safe from the worlds' would be attackers. But I can't help and wonder what my grandfather would think of these modern war tactics? He fought in WW II in the south pacific on a PT boat. He got fired on. He saw human lives taken. Daily. Saw friends die. He never would talk about the horrors he saw when he was there. It was a different type of war than the wars fought today. Would he think they compared? Would he even call today's fighting techniques "war"?

It's Martin Luther King Day today. What if MLK had a Facebook page? I know. It almost sounds like the beginning of a joke. But I'd imagine if a young lady trying to get out of her punishment can get 800 followers over a few days, the good doctor would certainly have attracted many more with his message of peace, love and equality, right? Would it have changed the impact that he made? Perhaps. Perhaps not. The question I have is would the message have lasted as long as it has? It seems the "internet generation" has a short attention span and pop culture phenomenons last as long as it takes to load the next Youtube video. Would Dr. King's "I Have A Dream" speech get as many views as General Larry Platt's "Pants On The Ground?" I guess we'll never know, but both men carried the same message, in a broad sense.

The internet has changed how we get our information. Newspaper subscriptions are on the decline; so is "real time" television viewing. On the rise are wireless broadband devices and the thought of immediacy in our gathering and sharing of information. The internet has changed how our social interactions take place. At one time people would call and write letters. Now they Twitter their location and email you a link to Mapquest that contains the directions there. If the internet goes down, we lose our minds. If we don't have phone service, we freak out. It has become almost as important to humans as breathing and eating. Well, almost. In some people's cases it's why they get up in the morning. Ever see the "Over Logging" episode of South Park? Go to Totally worth it and totally true in a lot of ways.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the one, the only: The Internet. What an incredible invention! Seriously, for all it's faults, the fact of the matter is you can find whatever you want at the touch of a key and the click of a mouse. Anything!

Including porn.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Don't Believe The Hype unless it's the song by Public Enemy.

I subscribe to Alternative Press magazine. It's always a fun read for me because it's (mostly) very informative about all music that is considered "alternative". And even though a lot of the "alternative" acts they cover are more "main stream", I enjoy reading the magazine. For the most part, it is well written, intelligent and fair.

For the most part.

There have been times that I have read articles (not specifically published in the aforementioned periodical) and have felt a slight burn in my chest. No, it's not heartburn, wise guy. It's the burn you feel when you realize someone stole something from you that you never really had. Or when you fail a test that you were certain you didn't study for. I'm angry and I don't know why.

If I feel this way when I read an article, that means the writer had done their job. What is the writers job, you ask? To evoke an emotion. It pissed me off and made me think. Even if what I think is that the writer is a fucking moron and has no idea what he's talking about, that is the best thing the writer could have done. The words the writer chose were perfect. They made me feel like I wanted to burn down the building they wrote it in. It made me realize the art form of word-craft is just as valid of an art form as painting, acting, music or...writing?

Wait a minute. There are writers who review other writers? Sounds a little ridiculous when you read it a few times. Well, who reviews the reviewers?? Better yet, how did all these critics become so-called "authorities" on their chosen subject?? I'm not sure, but I can't recall hearing of a university that offered "Criticism" as a major concentrate or as a minor to Journalism. See! You thought I'd forget about Journalism. I almost did. Well, these "authorities" MUST have created something of importance within the genre they review. By the way they write at times you would think this important "creation" may or may not have altered the course of the art or the culture that surrounds it, right? In almost every case, the answer is no.

Have these the writer's, been criticized? Oh for sure. Probably A LOT. I hear that writing teachers can be BRUTAL with that red correcting pen. So what we are dealing with is a hyper-tense, hyper-critical, emotional wreck with a pen and a pissed off outlook that probably thinks that the Yeah Yeah Yeahs didn't rip off The Plasmatics because they don't know who The Plasmatics are. (Never heard of The Plasmatics? Well...go ahead...we'll wait.)

Obviously this isn't every journalist, but for sake of argument this is who I think the stereotypical journalist is. Deal with it. So, we know who is sitting behind the computer and typing the review you are about to read, let me ask this question:

How is it that the opinion has become more powerful than the subject?

I've always wondered that. I decided to do some research. I hung out with my old pal Google and searched "quotes about reviewing". What do other artists think about reviews? I clicked on the first link and the first quote I read was by Iris Murdoch:

"A bad review is even less important than whether it is raining in Patagonia."

The second from Danielle Steele:

"A bad review is like baking a cake with all the best ingredients and having someone sit on it."

I didn't read on. These two pretty much sum up how I feel after I read any review. Well, mostly after I read a review about my band. Obviously good reviews are...well...good! It's always the bad reviews that sting. For me, reading reviews are hard. I'd like to say I stopped reading them, but I'd be lying. The whole reason you create is to get your feelings out and communicate them to others. Once you release it, your creation is immediately put on trial. It's in a court that's called "THE COURT OF PUBLIC OPINION." There is no single judge in this court. There are roughly 6,692,030,277 judges, give or take and they ALL think they have the correct opinion. That's a hell of a lot of judging. The neat thing is they can't ALL possibly tell you face to face what they think. 85% of them would be too scared to voice their real opinion and 10% would probably tell you but they wouldn't show up cause they have better things to do.

Of the remaining 5%, I would say that 2% are that "+/-" thing they always add to polls to make it fair. So that leaves roughly 3% of the world. Those are the people who tell you what they think. A lot. Whether you want them to or not. And they all have blogs. Just like me. :) The "creme de la creme" of this small percentage of world society end up going to school, studying journalism, moving to a city and writing for periodicals. An even a smaller percentage end up writing for music mags. So, in a perfect world, these writers are the best of the best of the BEST. You would hope they were honest and unbiased. You would hope they want to expose the world to bands that will change the world and make it a better place for you and me (we are the world!) I believe all music journalists want to do just that. Yes, all you writers out there: YOU truly are great writers and no one can ever take that away from you!

But there is no accounting for taste.

Just because someone is a brilliant writer doesn't mean they listen to good music. Or DOES it? A good word-smith can spin quite a tale. After they are done spinning these seemingly fine threads, they are woven together to create a beautiful "description blanket" that is soft, warm and comforting. These words are meant to make you feel like there is no doubt that you should buy the writer's subject item with little delay. Again, this is a writer doing their job to the best of their ability. A lot of times the reviewer is just reviewing what is assigned to them. I can always tell when a reviewer got an assignment he's excited about, though. They use SAT words. It's true what I've been told: If reviewers reviewed what they wanted to review, it would be worse than if artists reviewed other artists. So FTW right?(which shall, and will, always mean FUCK THE WORLD) Let's not read the reviews. We'll just listen to what our friends listen to so we don't get made fun of!

Maybe people should think for themselves.

There's an odd thought! Having an opinion that is your own and not someone else's? It sounds scary to some, difficult for others and mostly sounds like people telling me to fuck off through their computer screens. But it's fact. For all you music buffs, there is this brand new invention called "The Internet". I've been told it's EVERYWHERE and you can go and listen to acts on something called their Myspace or Purevolume pages and make your OWN opinion. I know for some people this is difficult to do, but if you're reading this blog, you probably have enough time to go check out a few bands. AND NOT SPECIFICALLY NEW BANDS! A lot of bands from "back in the day" are worth checking out. That's where all your favorite bands got inspiration from. Don't believe the hype machine that is created around modern acts. The talent pool is much shallower than it appears to be on the surface. Be cautious diving in head first; you might break your neck.

Most people are afraid to speak their true feelings. Most people in the music industry are, at least. No one wants to "start any waves". Maybe it's good that people who aren't musicians are calling out all these holier-than-thou-rock-star-types who think that just by adding their name to a product or cause that they are "changing the world." How many times have you seen Bono doing a press conference about this cause or that charity? Hundreds. How many times have you seen Bono in a field in Africa planting seeds? Never. Well, maybe once years ago. But last 10 years? No chance. If dudes in bands were writing reviews, they'd all be trying to get on each other's tours so it would be a suck-up fest.

My grandpa used to say to me, "Son, opinions are like assholes. Everybody has one and think's it's everyone else's that stinks!" I originally started this post with full intentions of ripping apart journalists for spouting their garbage all over print and online outlets throughout the world. But I can't. I suppose we, as artists, need it. That burn I feel inspires me to work harder. It should inspire other artists to do the same. If it makes you shut down and feel awful, remember that feeling when you tear someone else's art apart. Especially behind someone's back. We all do it. And to you journalists and columnists out there, one request: be fair. Don't shade something as being "cool" when you and everyone else know that it totally sucks. Just say it sucks. You won't get fired. You might actually get a raise and an editor's position in a few years.

Then you can hire me.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Dinosaurs Will Die.

I had a phone call yesterday with a young man who is in a band. He called to ask me for some advice. I was very flattered that he cared what my opinion was and wasn't surprised the question he asked was the same question that I asked when I was 19 and in a band:

"We work really hard, we're good to our fans, we play well live and I feel like we're so close (to getting signed) but all these bands we know are getting signed. What are we doing wrong?"

My answer? Nothing.

No, I didn't just hang up the phone. My answer was that they are doing nothing wrong. It's just the way it is. Like all the arts, music is judged on a person to person basis. I sure don't like every band out there right now. I actually think that many of the bands are cookie cutter versions of other bands that look, acts, dress and sound just like them. It's like making a copy of a copy. Eventually the image becomes distorted and unrecognizable. Over the last decade popular music has become so watered down that the old "three note, three chord, three word hook" formula has been reduced to "one note, one chord, three words." Don't believe me? Listen to "Let It Rock" by Kevin Rudolf. Catchy? Sure. Boring? You bet.

Now, some of you cynics like myself will say "The Beatles did the same thing, ya jerk! "Love Me Do" "She Loves You". What about those??"

I have to admit you have a point. It's not just in the last decade where this trend happened. How about all the grunge bands in the early 90's? If any of you are old enough to remember the 80's "hair metal" era, Faster Pussycat and Winger were just as shitty as any shitty band today...probably shittier. There was shitty music in every decade and every era. True story!! If there was no "bad" how could there be anything "good"? I think if Mozart didn't have composers like Moriarty to be compared to his genius may never have been fully realized (and if you haven't seen the movie AMADEUS yet, you owe it to yourself to watch it).

But back on topic. The one thing I have realized about the music industry is that I thought it was bad when I signed to a indie label in 1996. I had no clue how bad it would become a decade and a half later. This scenario sound familiar to anyone?:

A bunch of hacks (the label) tell a bunch of lies to a group of kids with stars in their eyes (the band). They'll ask the band to co-write (because YOU can't POSSIBLY write a hit song! You have to learn HOW to write a shitty song from other people who have written many, many shitty songs), ask to sell minimum 1/3 of your merchandise rights, sell minimum 50% of your publishing (both of which are in perpetuity, which is just a big word for FOREVER). Your "people" (managers who take 15% to 20% of YOUR money, sit in an office all day, go home every night, sleep in their beds and, in many cases, have never been on the road more than a few days) tell you to do it while you are sleeping 7 guys to one hotel room, broke as fuck, playing in front of 15 kids a night hoping that you might get just that one opportunity.

Remember kids - music is opinion based. Ever wonder how many people at the label tell you you're music is great and actually can't stand it? More than you think. Do your managers and agents really care about you and your career? Sure they do...until you stop making them money. Then they don't seem to care as much. I've even heard of management companies that won't work with an artist unless they sign all their merch and publishing over to the company. That is just fucking gross. Thieves.

"SUBMIT AND ASSIMILATE so the label has MORE of an interest and, there for, will work HARDER because they have more invested in the artist."

In a perfect world, the above statement would be true. But shouldn't they work hard regardless? Don't they have a vested interest just by signing you? At a 90% failure rate on albums released (this is overall; it varies label to label) you may wonder how ridiculously in debt are these labels? I had a guy that worked for a reputable label of a band I managed ask me to ask the band's PARENTS for a loan to pay for CD's!! CD's, mind you, that are not only a dead format, cost no more than $2.00 each to manufacture and that they sell to you at the bargain basement price of $7.25 per CD. Sound like a ridiculous request? I thought so too.

The question is after reading all that how bad do you really want to get signed now? REMEMBER - ARTISTS DON'T NEED LABELS TO SUCCEED, BUT LABELS NEED ARTISTS TO SURVIVE.

I have been part of the problem, for sure. I won't sit here and deny that I have done things that I am not proud of in order to try to achieve success. I don't think anyone who is in the music industry can honestly sit there and say that they did everything honorably and righteously. If they do, they are the biggest liars on the planet and are most likely A&R guys.

I am, however, a firm believer in the progression of music and when something is done with heart and with good intentions, it will rise to the top and stand out. That's how it has always been. Even if it doesn't sell multi million copies, these kind of records and the artists that create them will most likely influence others to create and follow their own path. The fact that my band mates and I have influenced even one person is humbling to me. I started writing and playing music as therapy. My therapy has become my profession and I am grateful for it.

To all artists out there some words of advice, if I may. You can't fix the world in a day. You can't control what others think. HOWEVER, you CAN control what you sing and say and THAT is the most important thing. Because no marketing plan or t-shirt design in the world will make a shitty record sound good. SAY SOMETHING. There are other things to write about beside girls. And if you're following a trend remember - they ALL end. There used to be hundreds of active, touring ska bands back in the 90's. The trend ended. Then they became swing bands. Then emo bands. Now most of them work at Arby's. Sad, but true.

Is the passion truly gone? I hope not. Stand up and be heard. But hey...what do I know? I'm just a saxophone player. Real musicians play guitar, right?