You'll eat what you're served...
but will you like it?
YOUTH BASED MARKETING STRATEGY is the name of the game nowadays. With an eye towards the future, labels are reluctant to invest their resources in artists like Vince Gill, Ronnie Milsap, and . And those are the proven commodities. There's almost no chance for unknown artist, who are past age of forty, to get a shot at a recording deal, even though they're a part of the largest segment of the population: The Baby Boomers. Even though that segment of the population has the largest amount of purchasing power, the conventional wisdom is that they don't spend money on CDs. They give it to their kids to buy CDs. Could it just be that the Baby Boomers have little or nothing to buy that interests them?
Creativity versus commerce
MONEY MAKES THE WORLD GO ROUND... No, it's not love, but money that keeps the wheels turning. It's sad, but true. Particularly with regard to music. There was a time when record labels would take a chance on an artists, solely for his or her talent. Those days, I'm afraid are gone. There are a lot of talented folks out there on the radio, but all things being equal, a label will go for the young good looking ones. Let's face it, psychologically, youth represents beauty, vitality, health, and vigor.
Still more reasons to go with youth...
Even country, once the bastion of a middle aged demographic, is targeting it's efforts towards America's youth. They not only look at today's kids as their future market, but their market right now. With soaring production costs combined with a bad economy, everyone wants to play it safe. You'll get a lot of cookie cutter stuff, where everything pretty much sounds the same, but at least it's younger, and it's safe. Some of the thoughts behind this approach are that we have plenty of A team musicians who can make just about anybody sound good. We have plenty of songwriters with great songs. Why take a financial risk on an artist over 30 or 40? An older artist is generally less pliable, less moldable. Not only that, they might just keel over from a heart attack while out there on the road. The record companies want obedient little soldiers that look good in a tight pair of jeans. It doesn't matter if they just graduated from high school, they're cute.
Kazaa, Napster, Gnutella, and Moebius
While there's truth that sales have been ravaged by Internet downloads, copying, and file sharing technology, such as Kazaa, Napster, Gnutella, and Moebius, it's also true that the labels have gained a reputation for greed, overpriced merchandise, and being out of touch with the trends. When asked about Norah Jones' startling success at the Grammys in 2003, producer Arif Mardin said, "It's simple, people over 40 don't know how to download." Well, the kids sure know how to download. Be careful what you wish for.
The bottom line is that right now, the recording industry is running scared, and playing it safe. Sticking with either their recently proven artists, or going young. It's understandable. People that work at the labels have to feed their families too. Why take risks, why take chances. Just stay the course. Unfortunately, the whims of the public are fickle. Remember when Country was in it's peak. Everyone was riding high. Then the music all started to sound alike. Oh yeah, it was politically correct, but it was stale as last week's bread. In retrospect, Country was just the flavor of the week. People's tastes change. Remember when disco was all you heard? Or how about Heavy Metal? Or Funk? Then out of the blue comes the jazzy stuff of Norah Jones. Now that was a risk, by the way. When people in the music business refuse to take risks and play it safe, they're at risk of going out of business.
Still more stuff...
- Being taken seriously.
- How my father became a star.
- So, you wanna' be a country star?
- Who do you like better, Garth or Gershwin?
- You'll eat what you're served...
- The Media: Out with the old, in with the new.
- It's great exposure.
Thoughts on some of the people I've played with or known.
- Charlie Rich
- Freddy Fender
- Smokey Robinson
- Jo-El Sonnier
- Randy Meisner
- Billy Swan
- Flaco Jimenez
- Augie Meyers
- Doug Sahm
- Jerry Lee Lewis