The Best Music, How You Find It and Why the Music Industry Sucks

OK, the Olympics have inspired me.  It's all about the best, isn't it?  So in that vein, I have a few comments to make about the music "industry".  I really hate that word. Creating music is an art, not an "industry".  The very word sort of makes me nauseous, because it's about taking people's creative genius and boiling it down to how much money can be made from that, at the greatest profit.  Right there, it's truly disgusting.

I guess I'm a musician myself, of a sort.  I play piano, classically trained to only play other people's stuff, mostly dead European guys, pick at guitar and used to sing.  My venue was smoky nightclubs that catered to folk, and I never cut a record or really wanted a career in the biz.  Along the way, though, and through my son, I've learned a few things. The thing I've always known is, I know good when I hear it and that's never  changed.  The second thing I learned is that talent goes begging when it comes to the "industry". They don't care really how well you sing, or if your lyrics are amazing, or if the music you write is wonderful, they only care if they can make a buck off your ass. Think American Idol and if you have ever listened to Patti Smith, Daniel Johnston, or Jim White, you know I'm right.(I'll give you a list of more, but not today, this is about finding it for yourself. Almost every city has it, just look in the right places, and no, it's not the arena.)

So how do you hear good music?  You go to clubs where those who are creating it, perform it.  Get out there, listen to it, buy their CDs, and tell everyone you know about them.  That's where it's being heard, and if you care about it, and want to hear more, you support it.  Sometimes it's some dive where you'd never think of going, because that's all they could get, or a coffeehouse you usually go to during the day, or a college radio station somewhere that played something you loved at midnight.  You want to hear more, make an effort.  The best music I've heard in the last fifteen years has come from just these sources. Once in a great while, I read that the band or musician I loved has signed with a big label company, and I finally hear them on mainstream radio, or see them advertised in a big venue.  Well, great.  I hope they haven't had to compromise everything they started out believing in, or their music, to make that happen. Sadly, sometimes they have.

I don't want to ever see or hear any more Disney-backed half-assed cute at the moment  teenage bands, Nickelback misogynistic crap, Britney and her ilk, Madonna (please retire, your tendons are grossing me out, not to mention your increasing desperation), or booty-based hip-hop junk.  Let's make an effort to educate the masses, as overwhelming a task as that may be.  Remember, one person CAN make difference.  Educate your friends, teach your children, get out there.  Play it, talk it, listen to it, and support it all you can.  Yes, Kurt is dead, but let's make sure he didn't die in vain.  There's so many talented musicians depending on you.

Yes, I'm kinder and gentler, but not dead, Raven