Dear Linkedin. Hello from Wyndotte Street. The purpose of this post is to openly wonder: When was the last time you didn’t fast forward through the musical act on Saturday Night Live? And what does that mean to us as a society? Fact is, every industry stagnates. Not just money-wise. Even yours. Music sure did. Feels like there’s something to learn here.
(But first … As you read this, you need to listen to THIS. Open it in another tab, click the video that says Cisco and let it play as you read. And you will groove. Secretly. Only in your heart. You can read slow. It’s an hour long.)
Questions: When did music fold back in on itself? And can you really blame Napster?
No offense to current popular artists. And if you are their assistant, please stop reading this to them now. Tell them about the car your parents should buy you. They completely paid for your sister at that college in France. Stupid cello.
Chances are, if the rest of us have heard of a new singer or band, they (or someone on their professional behalf) cobbled together successful musical elements from the last hundred years and put them through a computer in a pleasing, recognizable way.
Yeah … well, you see, it starts off with the opening from the third song on the B-Side of Abba’s fifth album. A good idea, but their hook was weird. And then we have this Velvet Underground bridge everybody likes. From that commercial. The truck one. Not the one for pizza. And then this guy raps over the whole thing. Well, not this guy in this picture. A studio guy. The actual guy’s ugly like a box of ugly. So talented, though. No need to tell anybody about that. The beat? Dude. Straight John Sousa. Yeah. That one. We’ll be on SNL in June.
So, even creatively hopeful bands just starting out are naturally going to gravitate this way. If for no other reason than the prospect of never having an actual job. Never lose that dream, by the way. Because … and, there it … it’s gone.
Not to say this isn’t how art with a capital ‘A’ is supposed to work. It’s all craft and learning what other people did already, until somebody moves the ball forward in their own small, special way. And then more importantly, someone credible remembers it. Then it’s art (with the ‘A’). There once was also a big clear line marked “Derivative.” But our cultural memory is only fifteen minutes long, so we forgot where we put that. So now it’s all art (small a). Or at least that’s what Kanye said.
Perception is reality. Take Kiss’ first live album, Alive! Monster album. Not live. Parts, recorded live, absolutely. But overdubs aren’t live. Certainly not live enough to earn an exclamation point in any kind of real army. None of this is news. Hey. You try to spit real fire AND nail the bass line on Strutter (track #2). Not going to happen, so go sit back down.
Now more than ever, if it can’t sell a phone during football over the holidays, have fun humming it to yourself. Because the song train stops there.
There used to be this thing where, if the jingle is stuck in your head, but you can’t remember what it’s selling, the ad isn’t very good, is it? That’s not a thing anymore. Last year somebody was selling some kind of little glowing red brick on TV. With no hint of what it actually was. A fun little bluetooth speaker, as it turns out. Got one as a gift. Really kind of neat. Didn’t even know I wanted one. But I now use it all the time. They should have mentioned some of this in their television commercial. Fun fact: item does not actually glow.
Ok, look, the reality is there’s somebody in a garage right now working on something new and great and we’ll all be just fine. Here’s the problem. They’re too late. We already listen like a bunch of hopeless jerks. It’s our fault as a species that, over time, our expectations will lower to any bar.
Which leads us to what you’ve been listening to this whole time. And why. For everybody who just now thought, alright, fine, I’ll click on it, go ahead. We’ll wait. Because it’s words and stuff and we can’t start again without you. Ok.
You may have already heard about this whole thing on NPR. If so, fantastic. Please feel free to spend the rest of the day out in the field behind the building, chasing butterflies.
But for those of us who never heard of Tim Carleton and Darrick Deel, we just did. And because you missed it, you should probably read THIS.
"It’s funny to even write this sentence, but the "hold music" that pulses through phones throughout Cisco Systems is catching on with techies and music fans alike. And there’s a cool story behind it."
- Scott Budman, NBC News.
Here’s the bottom line, which pertains to you: We all need to be entertained. Like shelter and water. And they know that. They don’t need to change, whoever they are, just adjust profit margins and find another way to game the system. Economies of scale always wins, especially in lean times. Not every industry has that privilege. Does yours?
Yes, still talking about you. When your customers, the ones you know are getting bored with what you’re used to feeding them, even in the new designer colors, finally move on … you’re going to learn a different song. Probably time to get ready for that.
Meanwhile, on Wyndotte Street, please enjoy as Brynna Campbell and Ned Hosford illustrate the certain future for aspiring musicians as we know them in:
I’m@Work - Please Hold
"I think you’re going to fit in nicely around here."
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