Last week Wired published David Byrne's piece of advice for young bands in the current age of industry meltdown and cottage industry emergence. Besides his uncuriously amusing fetish of musical production prior to recording (money only entered the picture with Edison? I think not), he does a good job of breaking down the commodity v. creativity aspects of music.He never mentions the words "long tail" although that is one big part of what he argues with:
A larger percentage of fewer sales, most likely, but not always. Artists doing it for themselves can actually make more money than the massive pop star, even though the sales numbers may seem minuscule by comparison.
Ever noticed how all the rhetoric around digital distro empowerment hovers near the language of punk/DIY's language about control over the commodity in music? I was reading an article about Tommy Lee and DJ Aero's seriously misguided club tour and Lee was talking about how DIY his whole operation had become, to which I had the cynical response "as if your crap musical ideas could court major money these days." Motley Crue, charming but true dinosaur of rock's post-golden period, a band so full of chutzpah that most of its members can live off the royalties of their legends and talltales alone, suddently gone DIY? I guess the thing is now how will punx change their rhetoric of exclusion/gatekeeping to keep folks like that out, or will there be a bigger person mentality of letting everyone into the party of self-actualized smallness? There seems to be a curiously raised eyebrow among my punk producer friends to all the press around Radiohead, as if to say - why did it take so long? And so, getting back to Byrne, it's like – did he really have to say this stuff in Wired? I respect it as clear, direct communication in a haywire moment, but hasn't he been leading by example since he DID start his own label? Didn't he already lay out the small media revolution when he sang this:
"Damn that television ... what a bad picture"!
"Don't get upset, It's not a major disaster".
"There's nothing on tonight", he said, "I don't know
what's the matter"!
"Nothing's ever on", she said, "so ... I don't know
why you bother."
We've heard this little scene, we've heard it many times.
People fighting over little things and wasting precious time.
They might be better off ... I think ... the way it seems to me.
Making up their own shows, which might be better than T.V.
Judy's in the bedroom, inventing situations.
Bob is on the street today, scouting up locations.
They've enlisted all their family.
They've enlisted all their friends.
It helped saved their relationship,
And made it work again ...
Their show gets real high ratings, they think they have a hit.
There might even be a spinoff, but they're not sure 'bout that.
If they ever watch T.V. again, it'd be too soon for them.
Bob never yells about the picture now, he's having
too much fun.