As I mentioned in my last post, on this letter I'll be taking a break from my usual subject matter (myself, hehehe), in order to address a topic of discussion that's made quite the buzz amongst certain circles.
It is a statement that has apparently shattered the lives of many. A statement that has destroyed some people's entire belief systems. A statement that has caused mothers to sacrifice their first-born out of hysteria. Oh yea, it's THAT severe apparently. Haven't you heard? The earth-shattering ramifications of 3 simple words have made everyone lose their grasp on reality!
So what it is? What is this Pandora’s box of all proclamations? Which 3 words can be strung together resulting in everyone losing their minds? Well, it's actually quite simple... are you ready?
Here it is:
ROCK IS DEAD.
Rock is dead?
Is Rock music dead?
Well, I for one sure fucking hope so.
Oh boy, here we go.
You see, over half a century ago, somewhere between a white boy from Memphis shaking his pelvis, and a black boy from Macon banging his piano, Rock n' Roll was born. Along with it, came an entire industry that would last up until the early part of the new millennium.
During this time-frame the music industry had its fads and trends, but the one steady and reliable cash-cow was rock music. While it wasn't their only money-maker, it was perhaps the only thing that was as culturally influential as it was profitable. From Brits in bowl cuts and suits, to Californians with hairspray and spandex; rock would rule the airways, arenas, and album sales for 50+ years. Now that's a pretty long time for things to run one way.
But all good things must come to an end. Everyone closed their eyes and expected Y2k to be the end of days, but when the clock struck 12 AM on Jan. 1st, 2000, they instead opened their eyes to a new world. A new world where kids figured out how not to pay $15 for a 12 track album that only had 2 good songs on it. A new world where consumers have access to all media, in all formats (eventually), in an instant. Since then, this brave new world has been developing.
So has rock music lost its place in this new age? Well, that depends on who you ask...
The mainstream strives on content, and in this digital age, it's more cost-effective for someone to create out of a laptop than it is for 5 guys in a band to inhabit a recording studio for a few months to record. Both take a great amount of time and skill, but declining revenue in music makes one option more likely to produce a follow-up sooner than the other. Due to that and the lack of promotion for good and original rock- based content, the public eye has been weaned off from it. Thus it's not mainstream anymore; at least not in the way it used to be.
So rock is dead, right? Well, again that depends.
You see, for a lot of people, rock music was never about selling albums or being popular. It was about celebrating the spirit of rebellion. It was about being different than what was accepted. It was music for the person who when presented with a fork in the road, goes up the middle of both because fuck you. That's not something that can ever die, and that attitude is VERY much alive today. From the most amazing bands and artists you've not yet heard of, to even popular artists like Lorde and Kanye (that's right, Lorde and Kanye).
That's MY rock, and it's very much alive and kicking.
There are some however, who would have you think that there are no more "rockstars", nor any rock albums that sell in the millions, and therefore it doesn't matter anymore. Do not be fooled, for these individuals aren't referring to "rock". Because the same machine that allowed 4 New Yorkers to paint their faces, and put on a theatrical/musical show that captured the imaginations of 7-12 year olds back in the 70s, is still up and running for 5 British lads wearing tight clothing, and putting on a theatrical/musical show for 7 to 12 year olds in 2014.
Additionally, it should be mentioned that the metrics of success within the music industry have changed so drastically, that nowadays album sales of less than 100,000 can no longer be considered a failure. However, in reality, albums sales can't count for diddly-squat. Music has moved from being a commodity, to a basic human right; everyone's got an digital music player with music to listen to. Just look around the next time you're using public transportation.
Is there more noise out there to sort through, in order to find the diamonds in the rough? Yes. Is it harder now than it was 20 years ago to make a living off of music? Not really, it's always been difficult.
Ok, so wait. You're basically saying it not dead. Then why the hell are you saying you hope it IS dead?
Simple; I want for the ones who DO make a living from rock music, to be successful because they deserve it. I want for new minds to take rock to where it hasn't been before, without having any regard for what is "allowed" and what isn't. In short, I want the old style of “rock” to die, so that the new can come in. Evolution has to happen, and rock needs to catch the hell up to the times, as every other mainstream genre has. There are some awesome rock bands and artists out right now that are pushing the envelope too. You just haven't come across them yet. It was roughly a decade ago that everyone was saying hip-hop was dead until BAM! Weezy F., Kanye, Drake, Kendrick, etc.
There are the Charlie Browns that ask, 'why would anyone even bother to pick up the guitar?' To that all I have to say is, hopefully they won't. If you pick up a guitar (or any instrument for that matter) with any expectation other than learning to play music, then you're expecting way too much. You play for yourself. You play to enjoy it. Anything else that comes along with it is icing on the cake.
But that doesn't mean it's hopeless to share your music with the world. Your song might mean a lot to you and your friends, but someday it might mean the world to… well, THE WORLD. To deny humanity of your genius just because of someone else's opinion is simply a cop-out.
Old guys discouraging you from doing what they did when they were young by blaming "the current state their industry" is THEIR cop-out. It's their way of not having to admit to themselves that either their shit stank, or just that no one cares anymore. Fact of the matter is that rock is one of the hardest genres to write for, because you've got 50 years of some of the greatest songwriting ever to live up/be compared to.
Therefore, if you think you can roll with the big boys, you go all in. If you'd rather play it safe, you move onto something else (professionally speaking, of course). End of story.
For some of us though, it's never been a question. Answering that is like answering why a moth flies to flame. Just because. For some, it's all they know. For others, it's all they love.
And then there are those crazy motherfuckers who don't have just one reason. Maybe, like a moth, they just want people to watch them burn. Why? Because fuck you.
Yours Truly (as always),