Friday, May 22, 2009

Question of the Day - May 22, 2009


britt asks:

Do you feel that music today is going in the right direction? I feel that older music meant more/ the lyrics were meaningful. Where would you like to see music headed?

Hartmann responds:

There is no "right" direction in which music is travelling today. There is only a myriad of styles vying for supremacy. Since ubiquity has not yet occurred in the digital age, it remains to be seen if any one of the niche musical genres can attract a universal audience. When music is "free" for the taking the public is able to experiment in many directions at once. They are exploring the great music genres of the past and seeking "the next big thing," from a new musical style, simultaneously. The great Paul Simon wrote in a song that "every generation puts a hero up the pop charts." This has been true from the antiquarian record business through the postmodern era. It stand to reason that this generation will follow the historical trajectory and choose a hero to lead them into the music of their lives. The sound track of each person is filled with the tunes that delighted their youth, sparkled in their coming of age and fueled the romance of their maturing process. These are composed of the three "Ms" of songwriting. Melody, Meter & Message. The songs that nurture us through life remain a part of our personal repertoire for as long as we can remember them. This is why "classic" artists continue to draw crowds as they age. There was such a demand for Frank Sinatra to perform that he was forced out of retirement many times. Elvis was on stage right up until his untimely death from a drug overdose. And there was enormous pressure placed on The Beatles to reunite until the assassination of John Lennon destroyed that possibility forever. Once an artist has built a huge fan base a devoted audience generally follows them for the remainder of their lives. And, the biggest personal appearance attractions today are the "classic" artists who have endured with careers lasting twenty years and longer. The great rap artists of the Hip Hop era will continue to pull large audiences from their massive fan bases. For the future the jury is still out. The major record companies have lost their way and are not producing new stars. As long as this prevails it will be hard to predict when and where the next "superstars" will come from. The Internet is the breeding ground. There are millions of singers, musicians and bands on who are all lost in the fog of showbiz. One might surf the web in search of "talent" forever and never find anything truly great. Or it could pop up on your Twitter or Facebook any minute. The fans are the only ones who determine the direction and they have more control over what they like than ever. The choices are many and the tastes sophisticated. When a star is born and their light shines brightly the word will spread around the globe in a day. We will all be amazed at the moment and jump on the band wagon. When that happens and the entire generation falls in love with the same music it will be a momentous occasion. If everybody with an iPod decided to purchase a download, on the same artist at the same time, the income would be enormous. That artist would become totally rich and famous immediately and they would still have their entire career ahead of them. So the degree of difficulty in getting "discovered" may be greater, but so is the potential reward. The music business was never an easy game to play, but the stakes have never been higher. Only the greatest artists will reach a universal audience, but it will happen. The direction it comes from and where it goes will be up to the hard core music fans to choose. Then, we will all follow and a "superstar" will be born.

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