Thursday, March 29, 2018

Buskers Blues - By God How the Money Does NOT Roll In

    Exactly ten years ago, somebody in the U.K. put out a 2 CD set of upcoming singers, wanna-be’s, MySpace hopefuls, buskers and denizens of the “pay to play” scene.  “37 Original Local Acts” were being “supported,” with a pressing apparently paid for by sponsors listed on the bottom of the booklet, including Courier, Certus and The Chapel. 

    Obviously, nothing happened. I was tempted to check all 37 to see how many still had the website they bought, or moved on to have an active Facebook or Twitter account. I did notice that the websites listed for the producer and for the project are long gone. Have you heard OF or heard any tunes by these 37, who were professional enough, and far enough in their pay-to-play gig and self-pressed albums to get the attention of this producer? 

    You know me. I have always been one to flip through the bargain bins, buy the samplers, and look for something to play beyond AC/DC or Celine Dion. Out of somewhat morbid curiosity, I grabbed this obscurity and actually began playing the Yeah, most of them didn’t last 10 or 20 seconds, but it was a lot more fun and exciting than listening to "Marrakesh Express." Decent singers, competent guitarists, the newcomers mostly were still imitating Cobain, Patti Smith, Waits, Sarah McLachlan or whoever got them into music. Like thousands of others, they gave up. A few, too soon.  

    Among the artists who chose the “write what you know about” route, is the guy below, Leeves. Unlike some of the others who chose to write about being sensitive, hurt, alienated or worth pity, he offered a kind of punky, realistic take on busking. In 2007 it was not helpful to be another Dury or Johnny Rotten or whoever he was trying to be, but you might be momentarily taken with “Buskers Blues.” Right; people don’t stop and listen. Even, to paraphrase Joni,  you’re "playin’ real good for free." Freeeeeee. And don't we think the music should beeee freeeee!

    TEN years ago, a bargain 2 CD sampler set of music was considered a possible “new paradigm” in getting young talent heard. Nah. Now the idea is to somehow pay a company to stick your stuff on Spotify for you, or to put your D.I.Y. shit on YouTube and hope that somebody finds you amid the Taylor Swift covers and the zillions of catchy-title tunes that people reject in favor of "Top Ten UFC KO's."  

    Once in a while a surviving record label pushes a new artist and pushes and pushes. You're told this idiot with a strange wig on, this sound-alike rapper, this bullshitting pretentious singer-songwriter, is the real deal. “Saturday Night Live” interrupts the comedy for this crap and you think, “Oh, this is somebody I’m supposed to like,” and then mute the sound. 

      It’s human nature to a) want something for nothing and b) resist anything new. This means people don't buy, and are more inclined to go to a forum and cry, "Anyone got EVERY Dan Fogelberg in FLAC? My 4 TB drive isn't quite full yet. Best regards. We love music!" Hey, Dan's a millionaire, record companies suck, and there are plenty more rationalizations where that came from. Meanwhile the 20-somethings don't bring us new and interesting things like Dylan once did, and the 60-somethings who followed Bob don't get record deals either, and are lucky to get an invitation to an oldies cruise or a few outdoor concerts in the summer. They consider it a Strawb of luck — er, a stroke of luck — if they can send out music on some Curved Air to a crowd of a few hundred sitting on their Pratts. 

    Michael Moore said recently that the best way to break through is to be totally originally. If there are 300 MILLION people in America, and only 1 in 300 like your stuff, you still can become a millionaire if they buy. IF they buy. IF they know what you did. "I Know What You Did Last Summer" is the title of a film, not followed by, "...and I'm so glad it just got released and I've bought it." 

    And so it is, that 37 artists thought, “Well, I gave ‘em my best song, and it's on this compilation, and I'll get somewhere." Ten years ago. And now? One of 'em does get his song on this blog! I did check to see what this guy might be up to. A quick Google indicated he may have put out some self-pressed albums to sell while busking, and he may have had a band that played somewhere once in a while before breaking up, and who knows, he may still be around, but more likely he's on Linked-In hoping to get a day job far removed from the music world. 

    People will still buy guitars. They will still try to master Garage Band. They will still try and write and record a song and try to get it to Spotify or iTunes with a hope and a prayer. Yes, where they are allowed, there are still buskers, competing with motorcycle noises and passing trucks and screaming brats and barking dogs and prattling twats on cell phones. They will sing the blues. Here's Buskers Blues...

Buskers Blues - no stupid egocentric passwords, no malware, no Russian websites

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