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Looking Ahead 20 Years - I Am Sad

Will there be a "Bring Back Metalcore" or "Bring Back Emo" in 20 years?

Are people even passionate about music anymore? Or anything of substance really?

I'm amazed at how fast the world moves. I swear, when I started this site, it was Myspace or bust. Then Facebook. Now Twitter. So what's next? You and I both know that within four years, Twitter will be the "has been" of the social networking world and everyone will have moved on. Again.

All this "moving on" really concerns me when we're talking music. Myspace was (is?) good for musicians because the site allows bands to push out new music to new and old fans for free...and then maybe that fan would become a customer. As social media platforms move forward, so do bands. But do the fans?

Remember back when we were kids and Glam was hot? The only way you could really follow the bands was to watch MTV or buy Metal Edge. Then, you could get a Metal Edge pen pal and talk about those bands over snail mail. You had to wait...for a response! There was something so civilized about it all. Now, forget it. You can get into a fight with your favorite musician if you're on the right social media site at the right time. I've often theorized that the reason I kept my Glam bands with me for so long was because they were all I really had in terms of interests outside of school. My friends were all really into music, so all our conversations revolved around rock bands. After all, I used to buy a couple CDs a week and I always liked to show off my haul. With the rise of digital music, there's nothing to show or hold anymore. Now, I know very well that kids still like music. It's just the importance of music in life these days seems diminished.

And really, we need the escape of music now more than ever. Honestly, the world we live in these days terrifies me. Political parties fight about the wrong issues, everyone is broke and you're lucky if you have a job. So, it seems to me this is a great time for a great musical revolt, just like in the 1960s. Except that if it happened, we probably wouldn't even know because there's no unified platform in which we receive our music anyway. After all, commercial radio is just that - commercial. There's no more real MTV and the web can honestly only take you so far.

I feel sorry for kids today. I really do. Not only is the world a complete and utter mess, I can't imagine they'll have many special "music related" memories to look back on a couple decades from now. What a tragedy.


Reader Comments (37)

What we need is the next true Rock Star!

Who have we really had since John Lennon passed away?

We're talking about the kind of Rock Star that can write significant songs both lyrically and musically that are truly transformational.

Kurt Cobain.

And who have we had since then?

I think the closest artist we have to a true Rock Star today is Lady GaGa, believe it or not.

Only time will tell to see if she is indeed the next true Rock Star.

p.s. I do think the kids have helped keep Glam Metal alive. Look at Shadow who comments on here quite often and is always very informed with his opinions. The kid is in college and he's like a major Iron Maiden freak, as well as being into a lot of the other bands from back in the day! And he listens to 'em on vinyl! How hip is that?! The hippest, man! I also think about all the kids I saw at a Kix show not too long ago in Baltimore at Ram's Head Live. The kids will Bring Back Glam!
October 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMetalboy!
Kurt Cobain? Lady GaGa? Umm I think not,the problem with today is that the music industry has turned it's back on longevity in artists and settled for weak over mixed, one hit wonders well artist from the 80's and early 90's still make honest music without the help of auto tunes to do the singing for them. It's a sad state the music of today is in, but soon I believe it will all come tumbling down, just look at sales and concerts now taking a dive, lets cross our fingers and hope that the end is near for this cheap imitation of so called music stars. And thank you to all those bands out there keeping it real and still struggling to return to those days of rock. I wonder where Gerri Miller is from Metal Edge she rocked!
October 4, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterlooksthatkill
I understand that Gerri Miller is now a freelance entertainment writer.
October 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKiki Chrome
I think it's hard to tell how today's teenagers will feel about their music in 20 years time. There's certainly still a lot of passion out there (whether or not you agree with the performers they get passionate about), but the older teenagers that I know tend to have a very eclectic taste in music, and that often means that the devotional passion is dissipated across a wide variety of bands. I think that's the real flow-on effect of the Internet: they get exposed to a huge variety of musical styles and therefore become a bit less tribal about defining themselves through music. Why marry yourself to one or two bands when there's always a new performer coming along who will pique their interest?

The plus-side is that they're often very keen to talk about older bands, and much less dismissive when they do so. The down-side is, they're probably never going to be "rockers" or "metal-heads" in any way that we could possibly understand.

I honestly don't know that this is a bad thing though. For the last 50 or so years of the 20th century, teenagers largely became separated not by race or economic background, but by music. We grew up with this, and so we think it's normal... but is it? Isn't half of the reason why there's now a website called "Bring Back Glam" simply because another group of teenagers (and the music industry exec who pandered to them) once decided that glam was "uncool" and therefore something that needed to be squashed? I can't see that happening with modern performers, and it's simply because young people are much less isolationist than they used to be.

Surely that's something to be celebrated, rather than mourned...
October 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKiki Chrome
I graduated High school in the yes..I'm up there in years..but I try very hard to keep up with up and coming music trends..I'm currently listening to Bad City..a very cool outfit out of Chicago similar..hard rock with a pop edge..I like Last Vegas and I really dig Crashdiet ..but I work at a college..and I chat with other folks in the 18-22 year old age range..and most of them don't seem to have favorite bands or artists...I tresure my music memories..but music does seem less important to the college age generation..maybe I'm wrong
October 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGene
Whoa metalboy! i'm an Ozz-fanatic first and then maiden! lol, I gotta say as the way I am Music is and has been almost 100% of my life this far. Being in marching band and around it as well as being on here nad loads of other things I can't get enough. I even go out of my way to make time to just listen to music nothing else.Of course I also am one of the best time manager i know so that helps. The fact that nowadays everthing moves so fast and attention spans are so short its hurting society in general. and that will come back to bite us in the ass. I just hope that when it happens i'll be able to get through it any way i can.
I will have help though, all my music.
Rock Hard, Ride, Free ALL day, ALL night! nuff said.
October 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterShadow
I 13 yr old daughter listens to music, but does not NEED to get CD or songs from i tunes. The enthusiasm is on there like it was for me, growing up as a teen in the 80s. The formats of getting music out there is so different. Just like playing PacMan or something. It was much more special, cause you had to drive to an arcade.Now its on our phones and TVs.
October 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBrian L
I completely agree with you... and I think this stems from three things.
1.Everything today has become disposable. There's so much of everything, and everything can be accessed anywhere, anytime, with anyone. There's no more waiting for months for your favorite band's album to come out since there's leaks, no more anticipating what the setlist will be like since you can find them on the internet, and you can access any music video at any time on YouTube.
2. Piracy has helped music become more disposable. Since you don't pay for it, you don't treasure it as much, and let's face it... if you lose your digital files, it may be a hassle, but you wouldn't care as much as if your friend smashed your album collection. Also, because you can download only one or two tracks from an album as opposed to getting 10 or so songs, you're only exposed to a few songs from each artist, and as a result band's get less hardcore fans. And because you can download a track anywhere, anytime, there's no more searching for albums in record stores... which helps you bond with an album.
3. Music just isn't the focal point of our culture anymore. It used to be teenagers and college kids would go to live music shows or parties with live bands, but there are so many ways teenagers can be social now... For example, you can stay on facebook and youtube all night. This is absolutely killing the live music industry.

As a full-time professional musician, this scares me.
October 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBlaine
Kurt Cobain ? Meh. I agree with all of this post, though. Easy access helps make music disposable. I personally think that the idea of the music 'star' has only been with us a short time, and will die out. Not least because, as someone said, the industry would prefer to sell one hit wonders they can control, and not build an artist. Imagine if Def Leppard existed today ? On their first two albums, they would have been over. Even AC/DC had a terrible first album.
October 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterChristian
What was the name of that first AC/DC album, Christian? Do you mean their first Album in Australia? Wasn't that T.N.T.?

And, are you guys kidding? The record companies want to build artists. That will never change. They want to keep the Lady GaGa Brand going as long as they can.

It will be up to her if she can defy the norm and push the boundaries more.

As far as the tepid response to my claim that the last great Rock Star was Kurt Cobain, who has come along that can rival John Lennon?

I'm tellin' ya it might be GaGa. She has the world's attention, but we'll have to see and hear what her next move is.

p.s. Hey, Christian, you never told me if you have or have heard of Zambelis. They are from Australia back in the day. I think I mentioned here before they sounded like AC/DC/Def Leppard hybrid. Awesome album.
October 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMetalboy!
'Honestly, the world we live in these days terrifies me. Political parties fight about the wrong issues, everyone is broke and you're lucky if you have a job.'
Brilliant. I'd probably stick to music journalism if I were you, even though your acute analysis of the state of the nation is fascinating *ahem*....
October 5, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterahappypunk
Blaine, I hope you won't mind my respectfully disagreeing with a couple of your points. First, I don't agree that "Piracy" is the problem. If anything, what you call piracy, but I call file sharing is about the only thing giving new bands a chance to gain an audience. Let's face it, as a professional musician, (I was one myself back in the day), you know as well as anybody that you can't count on radio or MTV anymore as vehicles for music discovery. People now have to discover the music themselves, and that means going out on the Internet and seeking out the kinds of sounds they enjoy. the playing field has changed. gone are the days when a consumer had no choice, but to buy a record/tape/CD without having heard all the music first. Of course, this meant huge profits for the record labels, and they would love nothing more than to get back to that arcane business model, so they demonize file sharers and sue their potential customers. but I digress...Internet file sharing is no different than when you'd borrow an album from your friend, and make a cassette of it for yourself. did that kill the music industry? I think not.

Second, the reason why the live music scene is going in the tank is, plain and simple, exorbitant ticket prices. Here's a perfect example. Van Morrison, whom I'd love to see in concert, is coming to San Diego. I was very excited until I learned that the price for the worst seat in the house was $90. That's just ridiculous! Because of those prices, I will not be attending that concert. You want to save the live music scene?...Break up the stranglehold that TicketMaster and Live Nation have on the concert business so that ticket prices can go down and be more in line with the cost of living of the average person. Back in the 80s when I attended tons of concerts, a concert ticket was not a back-breaking expense as it is now. That's the problem.

Blaine, please don't lose sight of the fact that the consumers are your customers. You're placing too much blame on them, and not enough blame on the few monopolies that rule the music business and feed the masses this load of BS that the consumers are the problem.
October 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBob
Bob... I definately don't mind you disagreeing with me. We need more conversation and debate about this, as the entire music industry is in a downward spiral with no end in sight.

I believe there is more good music now than ever before, but unfortunately nobody to invest in it, develop it, produce it, and market it. If you don't buy the music, the record labels have less money to invest in new bands, and more importantly, take chances on bands out of the norm. We've seen the industry go from an albums-based industry to a singles-based industry in less then a decade. Only problem is that a singles-based industry doesn't build hardcore fans or long artist careers.

Most people don't have the time or desire to seek out DIY or super-indie music on the internet. This and a lack of marketing money (a record label will typically invest 1.5 million to market a band's first release) puts a cap on sucess, and ultimately means less people are able to make a living off music.

For the live industry at the Live Nation level: Ticket prices are skyrocketing because developed major label or nostalgia acts will take a major financial loss on record sales, and have to make up for it via live ticket and merch sales. But don't lump all musicians in with the few at the very top. Newer bands playing smaller clubs owned by live nation typically sell tickets for anywhere from $15-30.

If you don't buy the music, you don't support the creation of the album. There's a lot that goes on behind the scenes that many fans don't know about. Session musicians like me are having a harder time finding work since there are less high quality recordings being made since there's less investing in albums because there's less of a return. Same with producers, mixing engineers, managers, dsitributors, etc.

There are many ways to check out a CD to see if you like it without stealing. iTunes, Amazon, CDBaby all provide 30 second samples, and many bands are streaming their music online for free. If you can't find a way to listen to the music for free to see if you like it and you're worried about being ripped-off, maybe you shouldn't buy the album, or only buy the song you want from iTunes or some other mP3 site.

People who steal my music are not my customers. It costs tens of thousands of dollars to release an album just independently. If I ran a car dealership, and people we're "borrowing" my cars for an unspecified amount of time and saying "Well, I might eventually buy it if I think I like it enough," they aren't my customers. Remember, there's more people here who rely on that money besides the act/band.
October 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBlaine
No, the first album was the Aussie pressing of High Voltage. TNT was the second, and High Voltage in the US was mostly taken from TNT.

Zambelis - no, I've not heard of them. Album name ?
October 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterChristian
Just to jump in here. Sure, bands can give away mp3s to gain an audience. I'm sure I'm not the only hobby musician who records my songs for fun and gives them away, and while I don't have a huge fan base ( mostly my mother and a guy I met down the street :P ), the fact is, I have more people hearing my stuff than I would without the internet. Of course, I write software for a living, and I am not trying to sell my music, or claim to have any sort of major league talent. On the other hand, just because on the internet, you can easily find and download any songs you like, does not mean that new bands get a hearing. 99% of the people downloading mp3s will be downloading established artists, and most of them download so much, that they only listen to half of them, and that only once or twice. There are indeed tons of cool new bands. Magazines like Metal Hammer and Classic Rock giving away free CDs are the main way I discover new bands nowadays, as well as reading BBG, going to festivals and showing up for the whole thing to hear the opening act, etc.

I was good friends with the guy who ran the local independent CD store. We are still friends, but his store never recovered from the 30% drop in sales that happened overnight when Naptster hit. I read an interview where Bruce Dickinson said that Maiden records now because they want to, they know they will be lucky to break even because of downloads. If Maiden can't make money selling CDs, how can a new act hope to ? They can't, that's why bands live more and more on the road, that's the only place they can hope to make money.

Anyone who thinks that 'file sharing' is not stealing, or is acceptable, is fooling themself. And FYI, in Australia, we've always paid $90+ for tickets. Perhaps there are logistical reasons why the US has been cheaper, but the price of a show is a relative thing. If you're used to paying that much, you just pay it. I always do. I paid $150 for my last few local shows, and that was for normal seats. Bon Jovi tickets were $300.
October 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterChristian
This is a very interesting discussion. christian, your point about ticket prices is well taken. I have only lived in the US all my life, so only have it as a frame of reference. when it comes to the US, it would not be an exaggeration to say that, for major bands, ticket prices have gone up six or seven fold in the last 25 years.

Part of the problem with the decline of music sales comes from the fact that record labels are still too focused on the CD. I'm sorry to say, but in the year 2010, the CD is a highly ineficient means of music distribution. Remember, I'm speaking as a person in my early 40s, so that sentiment is not unique to young people. Why do you think CD sales went down so much after napster came on the scene? Suddenly, digital copies of songs were easily accessible to the masses. If the record labels had seized upon this new reality instead of trying to litigate it out of existance, they would have had a cash cow on their hands. they could have had their own amazing legal download service that napster users could have migrated to. They could have charged a small amount per song, made sure the downloads were of a high quality, and were not hampered by digital rights management. What napster user wouldn't have opted for a legal option versus an illegal one? The problem was that the labels never got their heads out of their asses long enough to realize this. Instead, they still tried to force people to buy little round discs for $15 a piece. If the labels had innovated rather than litigated we'd be having a different conversation right now.
October 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBob
Hey Bob. I disagree with you, I am afraid. I accept that some people like mp3s over CDs, but you can buy mp3s if you prefer. I prefer to own CDs, I am sitting in a room full of CD racks, and I like having something physical for my money, not just files that can easily be lost. Given that piracy is still rife, despite the existence of iTunes, it's clear that you're mistaken. People like to get music for free instead of paying for it, they are not downloading because they hate CDs.
October 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterChristian
Christian, I guess we're going to have to agree to disagree on this one. Before I proceed, let me first say that I do buy lots of albums from the Amazon MP3 store, so I do pay for the music I like. Yes, people can download legally from ITunes, and that's wonderful, but for the masses it's too little too late. The point of my previous post was that, if the labels had embraced digital downloading as soon as napster became a phenomenon, they could have become a legal alternative to Napster right at that point. They could have fed the needs of all of those people who wanted digital files and turned them into their customers instead of their perceived enemies. Because the labels didn't do this, they created a war of their own making between themselves and their potential customers. they sued napster out of existance, so audiogalaxy came along. When that went under, then came Morpheus, Kazaa, Limewire, etc etc etc. all during that time, the labels made no effort to provide digital consumers with a viable means of legally obtaining these files. then, when a legal alternative finally emerged, the price for each song was set too high at $0.99. why do I think $0.99 is too high? I clearly remember back in the 70s going to a store and buying a single on 45 RPM record. The price for each 45 was $0.99 and you got two songs instead of one.

I know i've rambled on quite a bit, and I apologize. i guess my point is that, when it comes to the fact that so many people download music illegally, I firmly believe that it didn't have to turn out this way, and I blame the labels for getting themselves into this mess.

finally, to speak to one of Blaine's points...Yes, I completely agree that the industry has moved from album-based to single-based, but I disagree with your assertion that a singles-based industry doesn't build hard core fans, or long artist careers. Remember that the long-playing record didn't even exist until the late 1940s, and that album sales didn't surpass single sales for the first time until 1968. the last time i checked, the music industry was doing quite well before the rise of the album, and plenty of artists made very long careers for themselves, and had plenty of hard core fans by releasing singles.
October 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBob
Hey Bob. How is it 'too little, too late' ? Napster happened first. Even if the music industry had immediately set up a store, do you really think most people would, given the option between free and pay, choose pay ? If that was true then, why is it not true now ?

Do you really think that the cost of living today and the cost of living in the 70s are the same ? I agree that the price is a little high, it's often cheaper to buy the CD, but, they own the material, they get to set the price. The only legal and moral option is to choose not to buy, stealing is not a reasonable form of protest. I also think that if they made it 10 cents, it wouldn't much change who buys and who does not, hence they set the price at a level to maximise their falling returns.

I do agree that the labels handled it badly, only because the fact is, if I wanted to steal music, no one could stop me, and the labels should have tried to make people WANT to not steal, instead of turning it into a David and Goliath battle that many thieves now use to justify their actions.
October 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterChristian
Bob... Before the 1960's, the music industry was not doing good. People didn't go to concerts just to go to concerts... the only time they heard live music was at a restraunt or dance. They didn't seek out bands, they didn't know every lyric of every song, they didn't buy merchandise, they didn't read biographies of their favorite artists. Most of the biggest jazz musicians did music on the side after their day job. The longevity of careers were extremely short. It was The Beatles and The Stones that changed this. A singles-based industry DOES NOT build hardcore fans.

Reason why? First is Accessability. You can get any amount of music anywhere. As Christian said, the majority of illegal downloaders download thousands of tracks and then only listen to them a few times. And if you're a new, indie band, just because your music's on the internet waiting to be downloaded, that doesn't mean the masses will find it. You need a promotional machine.

Second is because you don't go as in-depth with the artist. Instead of listening to an entire album, you listen to one or two songs. An artist get's judged by one song rather than a body of work. And because you don't buy the music, you don't value it as much. It becomes devalued in intangible terms. And because of this, you're less likely to seek out shows and merch.

And even if you feel the labels handled the Napster problem ineffectively, why would you steal from the artists who weren't around then? From the session musicians, producers, and songwriters who had no say in the matter? The A&R guy who lost his job because 95% of his product is being stolen?
October 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBlaine

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