Welcome to the Machine, a hit off Pink Floyd’s 1975 album Wish You Were Here, as well as Bruce Springsteen’s hit Dancing In The Dark from his 1985 album Born in The USA explain their respective disenchantment and disillusionment with the music industry.
Roger Waters obviously conveys the industry as a machine, which is fueled by profit-hungry managers who discourage artistic values. Springsteen was practically forced by his manager Jon Landau to write this song after a reported altercation, so Bruce wrote a hit about not being able to write a hit that would please people.
The idea of a flawed and faltering music industry is explained in these songs from the 70’s and 80’s and the idea has germinated and blossomed ever since then into a vine which is chocking the artistic nature out of music. The true nature of music is now dead or at the very least in a critical condition for all of those who refuse to stray beyond the confines of mainstream music.
We now live in an age of repetitive radio music containing nonsensical lyrics, it is an industry driven by fan girls and profit more than ever before. It is an industry run by figures whose soul intent is to sate the appetite of young girls and people who are willing to swoon over ‘artists’ who attained overnight success due only to the existence of platforms such as social media or reality television shows.
These fame attaining platforms didn’t exist in the 60’s through to the 80’s, a period regarded (and rightly so) as the golden era of music. Artists of that bygone age had to prove their worth before ever gaining fame and had to fight tooth and nail to keep hold of their relevance in comparison to the modern day artist who can release a ‘hit’ single every two years to keep themselves afloat.
In times gone by, music was a matter of artistic quality and was judged by actual music. Nowadays it’s a matter of who is more controversial in terms of their private life, independent from their music; who has the best marketing team; who has the greediest and most profit hungry manager behind them; oh and having a pretty face and sexy body counts a lot now too.
Swedish guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen (who, I’ll be honest, I have never heard of before), in an interview I found hit the nail on the head in terms of my argument. He explains how: “People love heavy metal, people love rock and roll and people love guitar players but there’s no money in it. Simply because the labels, the retailers, the distributors, the manufacturers’ graphic designers, and photographers and so on, they are not making money…so they say fuck this and they go do something else. The new groups that start in a garage are not going to get exposed and the fans are not going to get new music.”
Noel Gallagher has been quoted as saying: “If you’re number one in the charts now, you’re automatically shit.” He may have been a little rash but in saying that let’s be honest, there is a strong element of truth in what he says – Look at the 2014 album sales, for the first time ever ‘old’ music has out-sold new music, and it did so by 4.3 Million copies.
This depicts that there are indeed still fans out there but will they hear their favourite artists on the radio, on the TV or in a club on a night out? Of course not, people with “weird” tastes in music are branded into the alternative, indie and hipster subculture.
It’s said that after every boom there must be a lull but the lull now has the previously mentioned fame-attaining platforms which didn’t exist during the boom, and these platforms are a factor in the demise of music.
It is also said that it will come good again and that everything occurs in cycles but as far as I’m concerned it is ruined for as long as one can gain instant popularity overnight and I don’t imagine people are willing to sacrifice social media, so I guess music is ruined forever.