Modern music is rubbish?

Good evening Porridge,

I too am a follower of Rick Beato and I think that he rarely puts a foot wrong. I have seen this video and I agree with his analysis. In general terms, modern music IS rubbish - or, it is so derivative that it is laughable! The problems are legion. Never has it been easier to make music - freely down-loadable programs used by kids in bedrooms has seen to this, but getting this material heard by “those-who-matter” is very difficult.

The music to which I listen most is located in the 1970s and before, including rock, pop, blues and jazz, but most of the young pop mucicians today seem to focus more on aspiring to celebrity than on musical heritage. If you asked them to trace their musical roots, I doubt that many would be able to go much further back than Beyonce or Kyle!

Compare this with the young Mick Jagger, Van Morrison, Bod Dylan, Neil Young, Brian Wilson, Joni Mitchell, or Lennon and McCartney. These individuals knew where the music came from, honoured their predecessors and travelled thousands of mile to hone their skills. Of course, there are still some who do this today, but they aren’t ever going to be “pop stars”. They are in pubs, small festivals and niche labels. They often know their fans by name and they represent a unique and priceless link to music’s roots. They work hard and, often, their rewards are meagre.

Not too many of pop’s aspirants are prepared to take the long road. Of course, there are those who have a genuine talent in writing and/or performing, but more often, promotion is the key. For example, what exactly is Ed Sherin’s unique talent?! He is undoubtedly ubiquitous and very wealthy, but, frankly, his songs are banal. Compare his work with the work of those named above, at the same age. Don’t even start me on rap! Schoolboy rhymes delivered with a sneer seems to capture it for me! What on earth would Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappeli have made of it?!

Some might argue that many of the artists I mention above might fall into the category of “genius” and I might be inclined to agree, but where is the current generation of “geniuses”? I suspect that the pop music system doesn’t seek or want them. What it wants is what works (i.e. makes money), not something or someone exploring “the outer limits”, or challenging the accepted order of things.

It’s a sad state of affairs, but we are fortunate to be able to access music from many, many years ago, alongside the current offerings.

Brian D.

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Wondering how you might rate Adele? @BrianD

Now you are talking (welcome btw :smiley:) At our annual night market here when all the streets are closed to make room for various restos, stalls and bandstands, one year there was a curtainsided small van parked outside the Mairie. The curtain was open and inside were 2 musicians, one with a fiddle, the other a guitar. Close your eyes and you could see the longhair and the Gypsy right there beside you. It was magical. Never knew their names, never heard of them before, never saw them again. Maybe they just dropped in on their way to somewhere else. :thinking: Priceless. :joy:

@Harry , Adele is one of my exceptions, something about the voice. :smile:

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I think it’s very hard to compare music today to the 70’s or earlier. There are ‘music/arts schools’ now where people with some ability can study music and learn to play various instruments etc, it is an easier route to producing stuff that will sell than playing gigs in pubs several nights a week hoping to be spotted by talent scouts, the likes of Adele and Ed Sheeran both had this sort of start to their careers.

Another big difference from 50 years ago is the internet, anyone can post a basic video or recording made in their bedroom on YouTube etc at very little cost so possible exposure is instant. However, whilst it easy to get your music seen and heard now the chances of you making it big and still playing stadiums in 50 years time like the Rolling Stones or Elton John is next to zero just like it always was.

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Surely that can only be a good thing.

Indeed, but that isn’t a guarantee that everyone will like hearing it.

Both my parents attended the Guildhall School of Music… 2 lifetimes ago… :wink:

As someone who has worked within this industry (or adjacent as I’m not actually making the music) for over 30 years I have fired up the ‘rant-ometer’ at least 3 times now to reply, but I think it’s best I just sit on the sidelines in case I end up with a forum ban :sweat_smile:

That said, I think I may have to have surgery after how deeply rose-tinted some of the thoughts are, my eyes may never quite recover. :rofl: It’s a shame as there are many, many problems with the music industry of 2023, and the wider entertainment industry as the fact that half of it is currently on strike shows, but it certainly isn’t about “pop stars” who in my experience and that of everyone I know have never worked harder or been more dedicated to their craft than before. Ask Jagger or McCartney whether they’d do Lady Gaga or Dua Lipa’s job and they’d both say not for all the money on earth, and unlike today they actually made some money and did so just by making some music and going on a tour. The industry is a terrible mess but that’s the fault of labels, tech companies, and consumers who won’t pay for it anymore. Paying the same price for half a billion songs (a month streaming) that you’d previously pay for 12 (an album) and expecting things to be the same is nothing but foolish. Anyway, I can feel the rant rising and I have brand partnership contracts to review so “pop stars” can earn some money to be able to make some music in their bedrooms…

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Good morning Harry,

Adele is interesting. I’m no expert, but I believe that she attended some sort of college to develop talented performers and writers, as did Amy Winehouse. Presumably there were others who attended and have since disappeared. Of course, such an option didn’t exist in years gone by. Imagine the old blues men being offered third-level education to develop their skills. Some of them were too busy dodging the lynch mob.

Adele is, without doubt, a powerful singer and a very good writer - I recently heard her heaping praise on one of her schoolteachers who had encouraged her writing at an early age. However, the content of her material, so far as I am aware, is fairly limited. There was one phase where the effects of a break-up were deeply mined for suitable material. I suspect that, although Joni Mitchell probably invented this type of self-revelatory song-writing, her palette was and is much wider. I’m not too sure that Adele has written much about wider social, political, or environmental issues, which Mitchell has done - and don’t even mention Dylan!

Adele is definitely very talented, but I suspect that few would class her as a genius - however poorly defined that word might be.

Best wishes,

Brian D.

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If you could do it without getting the ban I’d love to hear your thoughts, even if you disagree with some of the things I’ve said.

Well done for pointing out that things aren’t the same as they were from a much deeper perspective.

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Good morning JohnH,

You’re right - the current ease with which people can create music is a very good thing, but I think that I didn’t properly make my point. Many older people will well-remember families singing around the piano. Ordinary people have been making music forever. It’s not the making of music that has changed, it’s the making of music with the intention of making a career of it that has changed beyond recognition.

Making music as a means of self-expression or as a social activity has many benefits, psychologically and socially, but the expectation of fame and fortune seems to be a more recent aspect of the activity. When the route to fame and fortune was by navigating the motorways in a Transit van in the middle of the night, only the very talented and the very determined would prevail. Recording something with a backing track and hitting “Send” doesn’t require such dedication to one’s craft. In addition, being told by your mum that you’re brilliant isn’t quite the same as getting the unrestrained reaction of 50 half-drunk punters in a pub in the back-streets.

Best wishes,

Brian D.

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Good morning kirsteastevevson,

I think that you may have chosen bad examples. Lady Gaga is 37 years old and some estimate her net worth at $320m. Dua Lipa is 28 and is estimated to have $35m. Jagger and McCartney almost certainly didn’t command that scale of wealth at those ages, accounting for inflation. At 80 years of age, Mick Jagger has $550m. and Paul McCartney has more than $1b at 81 years of age. Pro-rata these younger artists are richer than the old boys and I’m not too sure about your insights into the minds of the older stars. However, the focus of the thread is on the quality of the music, not the state of the industry.

It does seem clear that you are dead right about the state of the music industry. As I mentioned earlier, I follow Rick Beato on-line and he has some really good articles about the industry, as has Ted Gioia. Both regret the way the industry has developed in recent years and David Byrne’s book How Music Works has a whole chapter on how contracts work (or don’t work!). Of course, t’was always thus. There are plenty of stories of how incredibly talented artists were robbed by unscrupulous and/or incompetent managers. Leonard Cohen would be a prime case here.

Best wishes,

Brian D.

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I’d love to hear a rant on this by @kirsteastevenson.

I’m not much into music, particularly modern music, so a short stint I did at Warner Music was probably wasted on me but was very educational.

I did wake up to Amy Winehouse when Back to Black came out and exceptionally bought both her albums and what a sad loss.

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Mah music homies have all been dead for a couple of centuries at least but actually I think varied music education has been available for a very long time, for all sorts of people.
Older music possibly seems better because what wasn’t as good has disappeared, nowadays technology makes it possible for anyone to hear far more, so obviously there will also be more that we don’t appreciate as much.

Also a lot of the enjoyment people derive from the music of their (say) 20s derives from feeling again as they did then, so possibly if you were out enjoying yourself raving now or in an electro club you might feel differently about it.

I’ve said this before but I remember my parents moaning on about how nightclubs weren’t as good any more but what they meant was they themselves had got old.

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Yes, come on, @kirsteastevenson (if you like, no pressure): you’re hardly likely to offend anyone that much :rofl:

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I’m not sure who those “some” who estimate that are, but they clearly haven’t been taking their brain medicine. For a significant portion of her life her net worth has been in a minus figure due to the extraordinary amount it costs to keep the ‘Haus’ show on the road. It is only within the last 6 or so years she has been worth anything at all, and that is because her focus has been away from the music to more lucrative things like acting. There was a time people actually had to step in because she was at risk of bankruptcy because every penny earned went on the music, tours and of course the incredible amount spent on visuals be it costumes, videos or such. She was literally paying for everything herself until her management got in several brand partnership experts (and one not at all expert😳) to steady the ship somewhat. I know of which I speak…

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Good afternoon kirsteastevenson,

I’m sure that you aren’t expecting us to feel sorry for Lady Gaga. From what you say, she and/or those around her made a business decision to invest heavily with the expectation of reward. It worked! She was very fortunate to have available some brand partnership experts who could help and was able to become a mulit-millionaire in her 30s, even when one of the experts was not up to the job.

This scenario is not even remotely comparable with the musicians of even just one generation ago, never mind those who were trying to develop a career in the 1960s and 1970s. I’ll bet that brand partnership experts didn’t exist in the days of the young Van Morrison and hundreds like him!

Best wishes,

Brian D.

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Maybe the title should be "Modern musicians are rubbish ". I buy (on CD or vinyl) modern or latest releases but by the older/more mature musicians. Think the youngest recently was Noel Gallagher and he’s now 56. Just been listening to Roger Waters lockdown sessions, IMHO brilliant new versions of some earlier solo and floyd stuff, and he’s nearly 80 (and still very angry :angry:):rofl:

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I wasn’t expecting you to feel sorry for anyone, frankly I was hoping you would try to make an argument that wasn’t so scraping the surface it sounded like a cliche ‘man at the pub’ who likes to think he knows what he’s talking about but, well, doesn’t. I have tried more than once to explain some of the nuances of the modern day business, not least that despite artists wanting to do one thing the business works via likes, plays, and algorithms unfortunately. That’s why songs are getting shorter and shorter for example, and why there are certain beats and times favoured. It’s songs by Spotify, and frankly that’s partly the listeners fault as the industry is just working from what the data says. Artists aren’t doing any of this. The picture you seem to want to paint is of current day musicians is of a bunch of ill educated idiots. You literally said they wouldn’t know “further back than kyle” which I assume was meant to be Kylie, which is the most ridiculous insulting drivel I’ve heard in a long time, I can’t think of a single musician I know who that is even remotely true for from the most bubblegum pop to hip hop icons and everyone in between. They know their stuff.

Honestly, I tried to just politely engage because you either seem like a troll or someone who hasn’t a clue about the actual subject they’re trying to discuss and seemingly feels that their watching of a few youtube videos puts you on a par with actual industry professionals. Perhaps you too are an industry professional? If so we can say hello during the next FAC all-hands and I’ll introduce you to some of these idiots who apparently know no music before Beyonce :roll_eyes:

Mansplaining becomes Briansplaining. If I wasn’t so used to it on this subject I’d be annoyed. Instead I just shrug.

Moving on…

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