Saturday, December 18, 2010

So much of today's music is plagiarized, no wonder no one wants to buy it

[This is a response to Bob Lefsetz' blog post yesterday, “Today’s Music Business Paradigm.”]

The reason that records can't be sold is that popular music (rock, r&B, rap, country) is in a stylistic rut or may be just a spent genre.  So even today's originals are essentially cover versions. "Standing on the shoulders of giants" ... yeah, and ripping the giant's flesh off.  That's ok for the live set because there are young folks who want to see young people full of energy doing that music (rather than the original act which is by now old/fat/bald/out of tune .. or dead).  But the *song*, as a commodity, is valueless, and even the young buyer knows that.

But longterm ... for someone who is not just plagiarizing someone else's act ... and has music that other people truly value ...  the recordings themselves must be bought and sold just like the old days.  (As you know, we have a way to do that: Registration + Verification + Immobilization = Monetization. )

In the 60s and 70s there were a ton of cover bands in every city, making an OK-living as local heroes and playing sock-hops etc.  They might have even attempted one or two originals -- that were thinly-veiled homages to the Beatles, Kinks, Zeppelin or whomever they were covering.  But, notice, they didn’t independently release their crap and they sure didn’t get signed.  Because they didn’t have the technology to make cheap recordings and shelf-space in record stores was limited.  Transported to today, all that stuff gets released, and it's 95% cover versions ... but it's just as valueless as it was in the 60s.

But you get me one song that is truly original and saying something .. a song for which there is no substitute, then,  there's no amount of money I won't pay to have a legal copy that I get to own and keep, wherever I move, live or have my being (e.g. Michael Sport Murphy's "The Night Surrounds" on Kill Rock Stars.)  And I think everybody is that way about at least a few records in their life.  Young musicians just need to make those kinds of records (and push their indie record companies into adopting universal registration, of course).