on some of these aborted Weaselworlds there are several that are
just one word expletives.
continues to tumble, I'm sleeping a couple of hours a night and
pacing the rest. Trying to figure out what I should do and how
to get rid of these dog CDs that no one wants. I have a huge $1
section that is going to be rotated to the dumpster.
figure out what to do next with the rest of my life. Trying to
figure out what to do with my new CD that doesn't appear to be
saleable, but I like it and believe in it. I'm writing new songs
and planning on recording a third disc that no one one will want.
to artists that are exciting to me but that no one seems to want
to listen to. Tom House, Tommy Womack, Eric Taylor, Tom Heinl,
Johnny Dowd, Bob Frank, Rod Picott... Sorry guys. I know you all
have your little followings, but you all probably sell more of
your music directly than any retailer does. Why is this? What
can I do to make it happen?
I keep stumbling onto awful quotes from the record industry
who eventually signed Britney Spears, Jive Records' Jeff Fenster,
said he based the decision not on a song in particular, but on
a picture of the then-teenage Spears. She was sitting on a picnic
blanket, wearing cutoffs and cuddling a puppy, Fenster said. She
looked like the sweet, All-American girl that you just wanted
to defile and do bad things to, and that appealed to me."
did do bad things to her, didn't they? I never liked her Mickey
Mouse music, but she went from a cute little kid to a slutty,
cocktail waitress in rehab. Don't tell me it is the price of 'fame'...
- Chicago Tribune from SXSW: "Interscope Records, home to U2,
Jay-Z and Gwen Stefani, already has signed the Pipettes, but the
band's album won't be available in the United States till summer.
By then, it might've already exhausted its welcome."
big thing, might not have the legs to make it to its release date?
dwindling disc buying public
is satisfied only momentarily
and then tires. They are off and onto
the next thing. How long is it going
to be before they all quit trying?
the Rolling Stone that arrived on my doorstep yesterday... A caption
on a picture showing a beer truck driver stacking up cases of
Miller Lite saying that all the beer was necessary to make the
on the new heroes, The Academy Is, has the lead singer quoted
as saying that he hopes that when a kid goes to Target to buy
his next disc, they hope to provide an alternative to all the
So even the
reviewers and the people who make their living by promoting popular
culture seem to be finding it hard to raise their enthusiasm.
Where did it all go?
buying less and less new product. It has no shelf life. The Shins
will sell well for a couple of weeks and then die. Arcade Fire
will be hot and then trickle to nothing. And then Modest Mouse
will be hot for a week or two. It all seems like Chinese food.
The dwindling disc buying public is satisfied only momentarily
and then tires. They are off and onto the next thing. How long
is it going to be before they all quit trying?
Mike? Hell, I don't know. It looks like rows and rows of shit
to me. I've worried about how jaded I've become, but I worry more
when I see Rolling Stone and Greg Kot go down the same road.
looked at the newest, greatest hits from Stevie Nicks and asked
me if it was an empty case.
In my bleary,
eyed pacing I came up with a solution. Garrison Keilor used to
have a pretty good grocery up at Lake Woebegone. The grocery store's
motto was "if we don't have it, you probably don't need it". Maybe
that is our answer.
you lived through the 60s,
we were supposed to create a
post-revolutionary world that
learned the lessons of Vietnam,
but instead we became investment
bankers and our kids and
grandkids wound up in Iraq.
of following the breathless, hollow hype to stock the store with
the latest "hollerbach" crap that is never even going to find
it's way to the store player once, we should stock what we believe
in, what we have a passion about. Records that we want our customers
to hear. It isn't a matter of taste. It is a matter of what is
good. Our record of the year was O.B. Buchana - "I'm Gonna Sleep".
It is great, old school R&B that we stumbled upon. His record
"I Can't Stop Drinkin" had a great cover of O.B. holding a couple
quart bottles of whiskey. It made us laugh and put the record
on. Other people bought the record just because of that cover
AND it was a good record. I discovered the Rolling Stones, much
the same way. We played the disc to death. People asked us what
it was and we sold it to them. That my friends is what a good
record store is supposed to do.
need to sort through the crap and reject it. I don't care if Gwen
Stefani looks good or Beyonce strokes herself into orgasmic seizures
on stage. Yes, I must admit there might be a voice behind the
melismatic exercises, but it still sounds like Whitney Houston
with her hand caught in a toaster. Let the Targets be the lemmings
that follow the ringtone.
doesn't matter about downloading. It does matter if we do our
job. The music buying public is lost in an American Idol wilderness.
They are being told that this download sold 800,000 ringtones
and it is what you should be listening too. A few ringtones later
and they get up from the table bored.
is even starting his album by writing a song for a commercial.
Bands are starting their careers that way. What happened to writing
because you had something to say?
As a writer/performer
of stuff people don't want to hear, I know that there is a major
difference between fitting yourself into a genre and becoming
the guy who sounds just like John Prine or Johnny Cash or the
guy who sounds like me. I was thumbing through an old CMJ that
helps retailers know what artists sound like by giving a few examples.
Amy Rigby had a song about Joey Ramone, so of course, her CD was
for fans of the Ramones. The niche didn't fit. Amy Rigby should
sound like Amy Rigby and say what she wants to say in her songs.
Of course, she isn't selling 800,000 ringtones either.
I often fantasize
about a young Bob Dylan stepping out into an American Idol audition
and watching the substitute bass player for Journey, Laker girl
and Mr. Teletubby rip him apart. Springsteen would be singing
"She Bang" on You-Tube. Even I can't imagine Hank Williams or
Robert Johnson or Woody Guthrie making round one. Elvis was never
going to be another Perry Como and the Beatles sure did show tunes
and the Drifters badly.
and a lot of artist help sites tell you to perfect an elevator
pitch. If you have a minute or two to tell someone of importance
how and why you are worthy of their attention. (I already blew
it, I guess when I told the president of one of the majors that
I was a dentist in response to his "I suppose you are involved
in the music industry" query.) How about "I'm a human being with
thoughts and ideas that are as valid as anyone's. I put some of
them up on paper and against chords". Is that good enough?
music buying public is lost
in an American Idol wilderness.
They are being told that this download
sold 800,000 ringtones and it is
what you should be listening too.
I have a
guy who washes my windows and he writes poetry. It is just as
worthy of a listen and respect as anything you and I or Fall Out
Boy might do. Maybe none of what I do fits into the starmaker
machinery. Maybe little record stores don't fit into a Home Depot
world or into the business plan of 21st century.
may be just dealing with a world that is devolving, but rock and
roll in the 50s was supposed to be the outlaw that turned
the conventional on its ear that drew that line in the dirt. Of
course, if you lived through the 60s, we were supposed to
create a post- revolutionary world that learned the lessons of
Vietnam, but instead we became investment bankers and our kids
and grandkids wound up in Iraq.
The Sex Pistols
became the only rock and rollers with the integrity to reject
the sham of the "Rock and Roll Hall of Fame".
Cobain was the end of it all, at the end of a shotgun. The day
that music died?
But I know
that I want my last words to be, "You've got to listen to this"
and I'm not going to quit singing even if the whole world is deaf.
Note: Besides operating the Record Emporium and running Wealselworld,
Mike Felten also has Landfill Records. Visit http://recordemporium.com
for a rockin' good time.