Spoon-fed, silver-platter baby or did you work for it?
Editorial Opinion by Bruce J Maier
I know that seems to be a bit bold of me since I’m always so passive, never wanting to upset anyone with my own opinions on politics, religion and sexual orientation. And I’ve remained that way happily for years and this magazine continues to grow just by being good conductors, not leveraging ourselves into the carnage of gladiator journalism. That said, I’ve decided to open up a discussion if you will, on the merits of those who have become so incredibly popular and wealthy in the music industry. Hopefully it will shed some light on where you, the Indie artist must chose your own path and build your future upon.
Picking on the Beatles for example, Sir Paul McCartney might have wound up working at the foundry just like his father did. He even tried it for a while when the future fab returned from Germany and the eight hour sets without a break, disillusioned and saddened by George being forced to leave for being underage in the clubs. But the music the boys were creating was so powerful as was their friendship that they never gave up. Instead they loaded up their crude amps and PA into old trucks and cars, cabs or whatever and went and played every possible gig they could find. Eventually rehearsed and sharpened by the keen fashion eye of Brian Epstein, the group pressed a few demos which would later become the fuel of genius for Sir George Martin. They made history before they ever really saw cash in their hands but they worked hard for every penny (Lane) they ever made! Years later Paul, upon quitting the Beatles set out once again to build a whole new band, Wings, with his wife Linda. While starting up they bought an old delivery van and once again moved all their own amps and drums while keeping it ever so stealth that it was he, Paul McCartney who the schools, colleges and pubs had booked in. Sure he had the dough and could have hired people to move the gear but the band wanted to actually go out and earn their money and see real Pounds for a change. Could have taken the easy was out but this I believe is some of what makes Sir McCartney the most recorded and distributed songwriter in the history of modern music and publishing.
Elvis Presley was a poor young man who had to drive a truck every day to help his mom and dad pay the bills and keep food on the table. Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, BB King – the list and the stories go on forever about being humble and one day making it to the top. Modern acts like One Republic’s Ryan Tedder worked as a waiter and at the pottery barn while honing his skills and securing a position with DreamWorks SKG in Nashville. As a producer of demo records he was able to earn a living but knew that all his efforts even since he was seven years old – singing at least two hours every day and practicing the piano would help him to get to that place he now occupies and deserves. Nobody gave him a record or publishing deal, Tedder earned his place and by now you may have surmised where I’m going with this.
Nashville and Los Angeles are magical places and dreams really do come true there. But much of it is fabricated and paid for, bartered and even blackmailed when necessary. It’s the only explanation when some young hunk or gorgeous little gal with mediocre karaoke competition talent suddenly has a top ten single on Billboard. And it’s not genre specific either. All types of music from Hip Hop to Country seem to be coming out of the vending machine and digitally being spun on the Big Heart network. And so we ask, “I thought payola died in the nineteen fifties “! No it hasn’t and it’s not exclusive to the music industry either. It’s rampant in the sports world and movie production. Ask any of the independent producers and directors at Sundance Film Festival how hard they have worked, how many barriers were placed in the way to keep their films from being seen and noticed. And were it not for these types of outlets for film makers, and the Independent music festivals all over the world there would be less hope for a writer, artist or band than there is today.
Now rather than me starting to sound like a Rant against the recent iHeart music awards and it’s plethora of no-talent cupie-doll cutout kids….( I know, I said I wouldn’t go there ) that was so much like all the other ho-hum awards shows, I think you’re all adults here reading this and you know in your heart of hearts what is good, what is real and what is fabrication. So lest we be judges and stone throwers, let us be creators and developers who can right what is wrong and correct the imbalance so that every little boy or girl throughout the world will have an equal opportunity. One that says no matter your language, religion, color or belief – no matter if you are a serious poet-rapper with a message to tell, or a Strat-slinging hard rocker or a real life country artist from the farm or the projects, your voice will be heard and your story listened to.
In conclusion I have to also admit that it’s not the fault of the rich privileged kids who do have plenty of talent but have had favors granted because of daddy’s connections. They deserve a chance just like the rest of us, but let’s not be making up tales about our rough childhood and how much mommy didn’t love me and that’s why I had the Blues every day laying around the pool eating hors d’ oeuvres with our morning champagne. Work for it, stay humble and inspire others!