Been having some interesting discussions with some songwriter/producer friends of mine lately. These discussions are revolving around what seems to be a growing trend, and in my humble opinion, a good one. It seems that the business is changing SO much, and so many records are being made by committee rather than the basis of good songs, and the politics of the "biz" is so locked up tight, that a lot of creative types are throwing their hands up and giving up on "chasing the money", i.e. trying to get the next Rascal Flatts cut. (or Faith cut, or whatever...) What I like about this is, people are starting to make music they LOVE. Between iTunes, Napster, MySpace and whatever, the record companies are scrambling to figure things out, watching their profits drop, so THEY'RE scared to death and that leaves alot of would-be talent out in the cold. So most are just saying, "Hey, if I can't make money at it, I might as well just make music that makes ME happy and throw it up on MySpace!"
In my own world, I just did something I've talked about doing for over twenty years: I started a freakin' cover band! Of course, it's a dream band, with all heavyweight cats, which to me makes it special, but we're doing nothing but tunes we love to do. Interestingly enough, it is starting to create a sort of "buzz" that wasn't there before. Like it resonates with people.
In a related example, go online and check out a group called "Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings". It's really cool, authentic, old Stax or Motown sounding stuff. I first heard of them in 2003 and no one knew who they were. I just read about them in a trade magazine and in Rolling Stone as well. Everyone who hears them thinks they are some old obscure, undiscovered Stax group, but they are all just a bunch of Brooklynites who got together, pitched in and converted a house into a studio, and started making records. They bought an old MCI 8-track, and they record everything like the old days and mix down to mono. MONO!! It sounds KILLER. And you know what? You can tell they LOVE it.
I'm in Los Angeles as I write this, and 2 nights ago, I had a meeting with Randy Jackson (sorry...I'll sweep that up later) and he was playing his record that he is working on. It was very eclectic and cool and fun, and I commented that it all felt very "unfettered" by the whole concept of, "ummm, we just don't hear a single". HIs response was, "Well, it's MY record, MY money, and MY label....why not do what I want to do?". Good point. Here's a guy who can afford to do ANYTHING HE WANTS. What does he do? Something he loves.
What's weird is, it seems like all throughout the history of the music biz, the ones who have had "breakout" hits have been the ones who just weren't. chasing. money. They just did it cuz they "had" to, and lo and behold, here come de money. Go figure.
Talk amongst ya'selves.