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Wow! I guess to some people, looking big is way more important than depending on your own talent, songwriting skills and live shows to build a fan base. Have you run accross that? Wonder why you can't break into the charts in your area? Maybe those top bands are buying their fan base instead of earning it. I got curious because I saw a band go from about 500 fans to 20,000 in about a week or so. So I googled "Get Fans" and lo and behold, for $300 I too can garner about 10,000 new "fans" in about a week! So, maybe your local charts are being dominated by fan-buyers and not real musicians. Something to consider is how this cheapens the way bands are rated on the Internet.
Here's another thing that bugs me. I recently read my new Rolling Stone mag the other day. I was going through the review section.. you know, top singles, must listen, all that. I like that the revieweer always discusses the lyric content of the songs reviewed. BUT, here's what bugs me. Where are the protest songs? Where are the songs that teach people, or at the very least make them think beyond tomorrow? When Genghis Kahn invaded a new territory, he would seek out the governemnt officials and the educators, philosophers, the "wise"men of the village or town or whatever, behead them and stick their heads on poles around the perimeter of the place so that people from the country would immediately know that there is a new boss in town. I am sure that it must have made quite an impression on the regional populace. I am certainly not reccomending that anybody do that sort of thing. But the reason they got the wise men (or women) is because people listened to them. Throughout history, music and song has been used as a communication medium because people listen to them. So, as I read about the lyrics in all these popular songs, I get things like, "She's a bitch", "He's an ass", "Let's get drunk (or high) together", "I need a booty call". Where is all the civil strife? Why aren't musicians calling out about how wrong things are? In these times of un-employment, foreclosures, rich people running the government and mutli-national corporations manipulating the laws of the country, all the while feeding off the taxpayers, (that'd be US), like whales swimming through krill, our musical lyrics seem to be more like video games. A method by which the people are too distracted to give a damn. I remember in the late 70's there was a small circulation paper in San Jose where I lived. There was an article in there that said something like, "In the future, Big Brother won't be watching us, we will be watching Big Brother, and there won't be anything that we can do about it." It seems to me that one of the first steps toward change by civil unrest is making music about it. That's what Pete Seeger did. That's what Bob Dylan did. John Lennon comes to mind. Let's see, who came after that? Tom Morello maybe? Hmmm, I'm not sure. It just doesn't seem that clear to me. Why is that?
I would hope that as a society, we would begin to stop being fooled by all of the artificial music being made and played on the radio and just about all other media. When "The Who" were on the Ed Sullivan show way back in the 60's, the drummer held up his sticks in the middle of the song to show America that they weren't actually perfomring the song, they were just acting like they were. Now, technology has brought us computers and pitch-correctors, (makes you sing on key wether you want to or not!), harmonizers, (perfect backup singers), and of course, Pro-Tools. If you read anything about the "music" industry, you would realize that Pro-Tools is considered the industry standard for recording to computers. However, it's not the "recording to computers" part of Pro-Tools that has made it so popular, it's the things it does after the "music" is already in the computer. Computers have made things that were impossible 30 years ago commonplace today. Let me give you an example. When you go to a club to see a live band, the experience can be very satisfying. When a group of musicians are performing for you, it can be a very emotional experience; one that touches your soul. There's an interaction, a synergy, that occurs between good musicians that carrys into the audience. Sometimes the musicians make mistakes through pushing the envelope of their creativity, or the drummer speeds up the beat or slows it down, based on the emotion and content at that particular moment. It's a wonderful thing to see, and a great thing to experience on the musician's side. These same musicians go to a studio, and lay down the song that they collectively have worked so hard on. Then, the studio engineer runs "Beat Detective" from Pro-Tools. This program makes the drummers' beat intervals all the same, so that the drums sound "perfect" with respect to time, like a metronome! Then, a "compression" program is applied that strengthens weak drum hits and weakens strong ones so that they are all pretty much the same volume. Has the "human" component of the music been comprimised by these machine processes? You tell me.