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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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I Need a Few Questions Answered
Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Everyone once in a while I have to sit back and scratch my head when attempting to figure out some of the things going on in the music industry. Just like life in general, the music industry contains some questions that may never be answered. Today I investigate four of those questions. If you can help me figure out some answers it would be greatly appreciated.

Has anyone else noticed Napster was a good thing for the industry? - I can’t be the only one to see album sales reached a pinnacle while file sharing was at an all-time high. I can remember everyone, and I do mean everyone, using Napster while I was in college (‘96-‘00) and we all still bought plenty of albums and tons of artists went platinum. Even with everyone downloading Cash Money Records songs their albums still sold millions. Same goes for everyone else who had big hits during that time. We downloaded songs and then figured out the albums we wanted to buy. Then a drummer from a certain rock band became greedy and the suits followed suit, shutting down free downloading and demanding money for every song online. Well, now download sales are high, though the songs reach far fewer people and because of that have far less of an influence, but nobody is buying albums. Is this because people feel they’ve already spent money and don’t want to spend any more, or is it because people aren’t getting to hear enough singles to see if they actually want to own a particular album?

Does the urban music world have the worst bouncer ever? - It seems every time I turn on the TV or radio I get hit with a new artist that just got out of Pampers telling me how to get crazy in the club. In fact, the main prerequisite most labels have for artists creating huge club hits is that they not be old enough to actually get into the club to hear their own songs. Chris Brown and Rihanna are arguably the prince and princess of pop R&B right now and neither can get past a bouncer. In rap the list is getting ridiculous with Soulja Boy not even being able to vote or buy cigarettes and Lil’ Mama and Hurricane Chris still being three years away from partying legally. Sure, some young artists are talented, such as the aforementioned Chris Brown and the just now mentioned JoJo, but for the most part these are kids being set up for a huge let down when they can’t follow up their initial success. So why has urban radio turned into a sidewalk cipher at Sesame Street? Is it because labels can get teens to sign awful contracts? Is it because young artists are more malleable than artists who’ve been writing and performing music for years? Would any of this be happening if 2Pac were still alive and creating music? I have a feeling I know the answers to a few of those questions, but it still befuddles me as to how we’ve come to the point where the old Jermaine Dupri formula of creating hits is now industry standard. Speaking of the kiddies…

Wouldn’t all of Rihanna’s songs sound better if they were being sung by FeFe Dobson? – Am I the only one completely confounded by the fact that Def Jam didn’t push FeFe Dobson but instead thrust Rihanna on us? Of course, monetarily it’s worked in their favor so far, but could it have worked out even better for them with FeFe? FeFe had a band, not that Casio keyboard production Rihanna has, and could actually sing (probably still can, we just haven’t heard anything from her in a while). I know some people say they’re different genres, but they’re not, pop is pop and FeFe was dope, I’m reminded of this every time “Don’t Go” plays on my gym’s closed circuit music video station, so why haven’t we heard from her in so long?

What was T.I. doing with all those guns? – Seriously, anyone? Was he attempting to start his own “army of one?” Protecting himself from his alter-ego? Making sure his rubber bands were really well guarded? Or was he just gearing up to tour with Ted Nugent?

Again, if anyone has the answers to these questions please let me know. Some have been plaguing me for years, others for just days, but regardless, your theories can go a long way to putting my mind at ease. Thank you.

Labels: ,

posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:52 AM  
  • At 4:42 PM, Blogger Daniel K. said…

    I'll attempt to answer a few of these questions as I observe and speculate about the music business way too much for my own good.

    The Napster thing was greed. It was rich people seeing that they weren't getting money where they thought they could be. Now the record business is really suffering. According to a producer friend of mine, some huge sound engineering conference that just came to NYC was poorly attended by vendors. Apple didn’t even set up their own booth even though they just put out a new version of Logic (music recording/engineering software). Now with websites like myspace and amiestreet, consumers can easily find music that they for about the same price, and artists/indie labels are better able to distribute their music without fattening the pockets of major label execs.

    Urban music and young people. I’ve heard repeatedly from music heads that you want an audience to be able to grow up with an artist in the same way that LL Cool J, Janet Jackson, and Madonna’s fans did. Think about it: a 12 year old doing physics equations attracts a lot more attention than a 25 year old. Same for music (which was a huge part of JoJo's success). What amazes me is that many of the young acts coming out over the past few years (Lloyd, Ciara, Cherish, Kat de Luna, Ashlee Simpson a little bit) are writing most of their albums (though usually their lead singles are usually collaborative efforts).

    Fefe Dobson... that's a matter of taste. For me, I remembered a black chick singing rock when I caught glimpses of the video, but I couldn't hum the song to save my life. Again, that's just the (lack of) impact she had on me. Whereas Rhianna had a huge impact on the pop word with her first single (which she had completed before Jay Z signed her). That’s just straight up numbers.

    T.I. I don't know. Maybe he was hunting? I mean, he is from the South!

    Speaking of music, check out mine: www.myspace.com/dkcanada (songwriter, not a singer)

  • At 6:59 PM, Blogger I Sort Glass said…

    Napster, oh Napster... Where for out thou oh Napster...?

  • At 3:57 PM, Blogger fetti said…

    i like all the questions you pose...very interesting

  • At 12:18 AM, Blogger BlueShoes said…

    We are sooo on the same page, it's scary at times.

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