Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Protest Music | Lefsetz Letter

It’s about the money.

Why would you expect artists who’ve spent the complete century complaining about recorded music revenue to suddenly put their livelihoods at risk?

Those who lived through the sixties have been waiting for a reaction. Another Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Peter, Paul & Mary, even Barry McGuire, to stand up and sing it to the man. But they don’t realize it may be music, but we live in a completely different era.

Folk singers were not about the money. They were about truth and unity. This land is your land, this land is my land, instead of get off my property! That’s right, that’s the ethos of so much of today’s audience, and performers don’t want to piss them off.

Pissing people off used to be de rigueur. The essence of music. It made you question your preconceptions and yourself. Music pushed the envelope.

Now they do that in television.

You couldn’t make that much money in music. You thought you were rich, and then came MTV. Suddenly everybody knew your name, your music came out on digital discs and you were richer than ever before. And when you make big coin, you become conservative. That’s what disruption is all about, read “Clayton Christensen’s “The Innovator’s Dilemma” for explanation. It’s the lazy and fat that get overtaken.

But it hasn’t happened in music. Except in business. Because there’s not enough money in being an artist for intelligent, talented people to come along and disrupt the scene. That’s right, we haven’t had a new sound this millennium. Used to be new sounds came along to replace the old ones every three or four years. Remember hair band music being replaced by grunge? It was a reaction to the sold-out spandex-clad bands putting money before sound. Hell, Kurt Cobain made it on sound, songwriting, but his authenticity was undeniable.

And then he killed himself. The machine wanted him to perform, he couldn’t take it anymore.

And of course there’s more to the story, but that just proves the point, there’s a tension between artists and businessmen, artists are frequently unstable, mentally-challenged people who channel the truth. We don’t have those people anymore.

Except for the wannabes. Clamoring that they need attention, even though their music is unworthy. They’ll take a risk because there are no consequences. But if you’re a star…

These complacent people don’t want to risk their livelihood.

In the sixties acts literally said music should be free. The exact opposite of what we’ve been hearing for the past seventeen years. The acts were in it with the audience, now the acts want to jet away and have nothing to do with the listeners at the same time saying they love their fans.

Which is why Jeff Bezos is so damn rich and the players are not. But the truth is everybody in Hollywood is invested in startups, envious of that cash. It’s be like Camus cashing in on cars. Artists are about speaking truth to power, getting it right. No longer.

They all use the same people, making streamlined tunes to climb the chart. They want to get rich. It’s one of the few ways for the uneducated to make it. And do you expect these strivers from the underclass to fully understand the world situation? These are not the middle class musicians of the sixties.

They invaded Iraq.

There was no music.

They crashed the economy.

There was no music.

Trump got elected.

There was no music.

A woman dies in Charlottesville…

Why would you expect music now?