Ian Rogers says: Fuck the Police

Internet music guru Ian Rogers challenges the hit-making aspirations of the traditional music industry in his latest post on FISTFULAYEN: Does The New Business Of Music Change The Way Music Sounds?

I was on a panel at Bandwith Conference last week and the “Who is going to play The Staples Center in five years?” question came up again. I answered (again), “Who the fuck wants to see a show at The Staples Center?” Do we judge the health of the music business by how many people are pulling half a mill in a single show at a terrible venue? I don’t. Let me be clear, unless your sole source of music discovery is network television and Radio Disney, I hope you never have to see your favorite band at The Staples Center. I saw Bob Dylan there once. It’s a bummer, only fun for the people counting the money.

Rogers calls up Radiohead, the Dandy Warhols, Rod Stewart, and Paul Westerberg as examples of what happens when artists make music for their fans vs. “making it for a hit in the limited radio marketing channel.”

Niche vs. zeitgeist, I guess. Will there ever be another band that appeals to everybody, both the casual radio listener as well as the discerning music snob? Does it even matter?

MP3: Dandy Warhols – “The World Come On” from Earth To The Dandy Warhols.

3 thoughts on “Ian Rogers says: Fuck the Police”

  1. I don’t think it does matter. Though I’m sure there will always be certain “crossover” acts (Gnarls B, Kelly Clarkson). What’s going on in the industry is certainly fascinating–but why care at all which way it goes? If that makes sense.

    I can’t foresee a time when music will ever again be as culturally relevant as it once was–that kind of unifying, energizing, galvanizing force. There were many unique circumstances that allowed that to happen–artistic, cultural, technological.

    By the same token there will never be a point again when music fans “suffer” the way we did, say, in the 80s–the industrial fallout from which we are now currently observing with vulture-like glee.

    They’re opposite ends of a spectrum in which the industry acted as gatekeeper. In the first instance, they are signing wildly unique talents, and (more importantly) developing them, allowing them to reach full potential, and thus, hopefully, years of steady catalog sales to people who really do love music.

    On the other, you have disinterested corporate managers, trend-dominated, market-tested, looking for the quick cash-in from people for whom music is a lifestyle commodity, just something that makes them feel good (nothing wrong with that). That’s the stuff that pays the hair stylists, personal assistants, video directors et al, and placates the shareholders.

    And that is shrinking now.

    Meanwhile, none of us are at a loss for good music, are we?

  2. Totally agree, in fact I am drowning in good music. Again, the combination of cultural (DIY/User submitted content is king right now), technological (cheap, quality home recording is available to all), and artistic (mainstream acts pushing the boundaries of what constitutes “pop” music–see Radiohead, et al.) is leaving us awash in great music. The Internet blasting away the old gatekeeper structure simply makes it all at our fingertips.

    It’s a wonderful time for music and a horrible time for the music industry. Who benefits and suffers from that? I think we all know.

  3. I can’t foresee a time when music will ever again be as culturally relevant as it once was–that kind of unifying, energizing, galvanizing force.


    The question isn’t “Who is going to play The Staples Center in five years?” but which current acts will still matter and be around then? We’re living in a time when artists are going from buzz bands and hipster darlings to residing atop the Where Are They Now? garbage heap at an alarming rate/speed. Like it or not, all the artists Rogers uses as examples are former beneficiaries of doing time in the big machine and utilizing that name recognition to their own benefit. (Radiohead acknowledged as much during the In Rainbows hoopla.)

    As popular music becomes increasingly more disposable–regardless of the artists’ creative merits/street cred or lack thereof–that number will steadily decrease. I think that’s why we’re seeing artists past their prime but with a solid following (Madonna, U2, Jay-Z, etc) being courted by the likes of Live Nation, instead of say, Kings of Leon. Right or wrong, the backlash suffered by bands like Clap Your Hands, Tapes n Tapes, Vampire Weekend (it’s around the corner) etc just bolsters their stance.

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