How I See Things: Money vs Meaning

July 18, 2011
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I've been thinking about writing this article for a while now. It probably took me so long to get around to it because I have not been able to concretely decide on how I feel on the evolution of music. Now, I cannot say that I have had a lifelong experience strictly based on listening to music and understanding the history of music and how music has changed the world and how music is going to change in the future. I really don't think anyone has ever or will ever be able to do all of that, so I'm just going to offer my view of the situation from afar and throw it in the pile with the rest. First, there is a lot of music I like. Rather, a lot of music I love and then the kind that I can tolerate, which I feel comes together to go under the general title of "music I like." Give me a catchy chorus, a funky guitar riff, a hard hitting drum beat, an interesting set of lyrics, something to make me keep listening with open ears. Now, obviously, there is only so much music that one can tolerate, and I'm not going to sit here and tell you to listen to one band or artist over another because we can argue about that for hours. For the record, I'm a fan of rock, and the grunge sound really gets me. Anyway, to me, it does not matter what kind of music you listen to, because all music should have one thing in common. It should have feeling. It should have meaning. It should have reason, and the right reason. Okay, so maybe a few things. Most music fans will preach about how bands and singers are corrupted by commercialism. The fame and fortune takes away the drive and overall interest in the musical aspect of the business. Well, yes of course, that is obvious if we just look at the process. Jane Doe "writes" a smash hit that reaches the top of the charts. She gains popularity as an up and coming artist who is clean and focused on pursuing her dreams in the music business. Then she "writes" a few other songs that don't do quite as well as the first one but still manage to keep her in the mainstream. She goes on tour, but over time she loses her knack for writing hits and gradually fades away into the abyss. How sad. But what caused this career to fail? It seems like Jane became a bit too comfortable after little success, which means little money, but still, great fame. But enough of Jane Doe. Look at the music industry right now. I apologize, but this is where I criticize...and satirize. "The Mainstream," a land where auto-tune can be heard from miles around and the fake voices of pre-pubescent boys and girls reign supreme. Long forgotten is the meaning of song. Computers and technology control how singers, if you wish to call them that, create their songs. A couple cute lines thrown down on a page and out comes the next chart-topper. Stop. I know I sound like a disgruntled elderly man, but what I say has some merit as much as the world is blind to it and/or wishes not to see it. Here is the common denominator: the music of today has one goal in mind- money. I honestly believe, with all of my heart, that a majority of mainstream artists today are strictly in the business for the business and the business only. This "business" encompasses the money, fame, fortune, but the MUSIC as well. That is what many forget. Then, these singers will put up a facade to make it seem as if they have a true interest in making music because they actually enjoy making music, not because making the music earns them millions of dollars for one song. Granted, that does sound appealing. Yet, THAT is why I listen to rock music. Now, that doesn't mean that there are certain bands that are like pop and rap artists in that they are only focused on the next payday, because there are some sell-outs for sure. But, in my eyes, there are a lot more hard-working bands playing out there because they enjoy a good jam session and making some money in the process, but not the money alone. I cannot say the same for certain singers today who are probably more concerned about which club they're going spend their money in after their ten song set-list than how their show actually sounded. Seriously, is that not what music is about? Entertaining an audience? Telling a true, MEANINGFUL story through song, not lip syncing a fairy-tale love story? But hey, this is just my opinion. Like I said, I've not lived my entire life listening to every song ever made. However, I do think that I have listened and learned enough to see the difference between good and bad music. Although this is a matter of opinion, I don't doubt that there will be many people that will agree with me. Keep on Rocking In the Free World.

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