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Broken Record Part 2

No connection, no sale.

In the previous article, I talked about how a lack of choice in music was as big of a problem as piracy. The lack of consumer confidence is palpable. People used to love music and be extremely passionate, now people often complain they “hate all the new music they hear”. It wasn’t uncommon to hear seniors talk that way about their grand children's music, but these days the seniors with these opinions are high school seniors.

But what causes such a disconnect? The answer; a total and utterly obnoxious gap between the culture of the stars and the people on the ground.

The music industry is so wrought with collusion and rigging labels can no longer afford any risk, and in many cases can't afford to launch an artist. So where on earth could labels find fresh new talent capable of financing a career in a totally rigged system?

The answer: Rich kids.

Besides systematic oppression of “variety,” the chosen few are the children of the socially and economically out of touch elitists. Stars claim to care about "the little people" and want "everyone to get a chance" but cling tenaciously to their so-called "careers" that rely almost entirely on the fact nobody else has a "chance" or even "choice."

Ariana Grande, Ed Sheeran, Taylor Swift, Lana Del Ray are all the offspring of successful marketing professionals. And the ones who aren’t either rose to fame through controlled channels like “Disney” or “Idol”. In the case of “Canadian stars” 1 is plucked out of obscurity every 5 years, or so which fools the gullible Canadian public into thinking “lots of Canadians make it all the time”. Most of these artists don’t have examples of independently produced music or even resumes and their back stories are shady at best. That isn't "making it". If Avril and Bieber prove to you that hard work and building something from the ground up organically is viable or even possible… please don't reproduce. I'm begging you the world is dumb enough as it is. All in all, the final product is "Mickey Mouse."

Many people respond to these realities with “ho hum”, “whatever”, “it sucks things aren’t fair man, but that’s life” and my favorite “we just have to accept it”.

You probably feel the same, or at least know many people who do. On that note, what musician is worth getting excited about? What song on the radio is really speaking to your heart? And when was the last time you or anyone you know purchased music? Seriously? It probably circles back to the last time you barely related to or cared about an artist or group, in my case 2004 “back when I believed in stuff”.

At the same time, people aren't exactly standing up against it. Since when was it the social norm to just sit and have collusion shoved in your face? Most people just say “whatever it’s just dumb music and it doesn’t matter so why care”. A good point but wait, does it have to be dumb? Was it always dumb? Shouldn’t we care based solely on the fact it IS dumb and shouldn’t be? It’s funny because musicians aren’t respected at all and are generally assumed to be vapid, sellouts. But there was a time when though flawed, these people were respected and relatable. The current roster is limited in their content, the control of their image and by proxy their relatability. The mainstream artist could be called "limited artists". People may love watching Ariana and they may feel a connection loosely, but even if they relate to her, does she relate to them? The answer is no, and it’s not just Ariana. She famously said she "hated Americans" and didn't even bother to backtrack very far, eventually turning the entire statement into a reference about how “fat and lazy” the country was. It’s okay guys she just hates the “fat lazy ones” and there are so many she just referenced the entire nation. The moment wasn’t career ending but it probably should have been. Hey, at least we know where she stands folks. Celebrities don’t understand the lives of their captive audience. All this accepted collusion, rigging and even hostility is acknowledged and “liked” sometimes with an emoji added for good measure. Sadly, it’s happening in essentially every industry just at a different pace.

Which is another reason the state of music matters. We can see what every other aspect of the corporate world will boil down to if left to their own devices. With more automation and globalisation and fewer resources, the music industry is leading the way in strangling the population. The smaller the market gets the tighter they bear down.

Record sales numbers are nose diving. Piracy isn’t as bad as it used to be, but the entire industry threw in the towel with Spotify which is basically legal piracy. “Here it is, uhh…. Pay for it if you want… but you don’t really have to”.

I believe the lack of prosperity is a direct result of the total detachment from reality and general malice on the side of the establishment. They took everything so there was less to go around, they don't let the magic happen and people aren't buying it.

This was no more obvious than in late 2016 record sales hitting a new low, major production companies selling out to Chinese investors because nobody on our continent had the money or faith to buy in. During this time we had a host of celebrities moaning and chastising Americans who voted against Hillary Clinton and supported a supposed outsider. This isn’t about who was right or wrong, politics aside, try and avoid being “triggered” and just look at what happened between musicians/celebrities and the population.

President Trump celebrated a landslide victory.

The people representing our generation and our culture are not only on a different wavelength as the population they are supposed to enrich and entertain, they couldn’t even recognize that there WAS a different wavelength.

Rebel reality star shows up talking about “bringing back jobs” and the crowds go wild. While singer after singer and actor after actor seemed to insist disenfranchised Americans living in 3rd world conditions were privileged, spoiled, lazy, and most of all racist xenophobes for being interested in "jobs."

That's not even an oversimplification, just a sad footnote in history.

Seeing as most of these people have never had to “work” a “real job” I guess it’s no surprise they don’t understand why having one is important. Or why an average Joe might want to feed his family. I imagine their thought process would go something like this;

“Why would he want to feed his family? Isn’t that what the chef and nanny are for?”

These false icons were not chosen by the people but forced on them. This recent display of immense ignorance by touting “diversity” and “freedom” while ignoring any existence of conflicting opinions. These people really should not go off script.

Where were the active musicians and celebrities who shared the populist view? The news media was blue, so was the music but states were turning red. Whether you are a democrat or a republican, liberal or conservative you have to ask. Where’s the “diversity”? Why weren’t these voices represented in entertainment? And most of all where was the music that echoed a vast cultural shift? This is the first time such a strong political shift took place without a single note changing on the radio.

We are faced with an echo chamber that hates working people, outrightly blasts them for wanting to have a family and place to live. It’s “asking for too much” and “greedy” meanwhile the Chinese Middle class outnumbers the ENTIRE US population. And everyone knows but the people with the loudest voices.

It is a sick twisted scenario so simple and cartoonish it almost seems to be out of a children's book.

But what does this mean for us? Millennials’ namely. As one of the 1980’s millennials I’ve watched as my generation's stories and voices were silenced, all while we were told we had it all and were in control. That is something I never fell for, and fought. Sometimes I wish I was one of the guys who just didn’t notice.

What will historians have to look back on to gauge the “feeling” of our time? There is precious little to work with, essentially a new dark age with bright lights and insta-filters.

We don't have the sights, sounds or variety our parents and grandparents had. We are aging out of having anything of our own culturally. As someone who fought the indie fight, looking around seeing less and less people step up to the plate, I wonder…is it possible to change this reality? Could our generation be throwing in the towel?

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