From The Donnas to Rick Rubin

I wish more in the newspaper industry would pay attention to their canary in the coal mine – the music industry.

Rolling Stone: “The Record Industry’s Decline”:

…Overall CD sales have plummeted sixteen percent for the year so far — and that’s after seven years of near-constant erosion. In the face of widespread piracy, consumers’ growing preference for low-profit-margin digital singles over albums, and other woes, the record business has plunged into a historic decline.

The major labels are struggling to reinvent their business models, even as some wonder whether it’s too late. “The record business is over,” says music attorney Peter Paterno, who represents Metallica and Dr. Dre. “The labels have wonderful assets — they just can’t make any money off them.” One senior music-industry source who requested anonymity went further: “Here we have a business that’s dying. There won’t be any major labels pretty soon.”

…More record executives now seem to understand that their problems are structural: The Internet appears to be the most consequential technological shift for the business of selling music since the 1920s, when phonograph records replaced sheet music as the industry’s profit center. “We have to collectively understand that times have changed,” says Lyor Cohen, CEO of Warner Music Group USA. In June, Warner announced a deal with the Web site that will allow consumers to stream much of its catalog for free, in hopes that they will then pay for downloads. It’s the latest of recent major-label moves that would have been unthinkable a few years back…

Newsome.Org: “The Lost Rituals of Music”:

I suspect Fred misses the good old days when listening to music was the thing, itself. As opposed to something you do while you’re doing something else. These days everything is compressed. Time. Music. Fun. Back in the day, we’d put Frampton Comes Alive on the turntable, sit back and just enjoy the sound. Same with the Allman’s At Fillmore East, and the best one of all- Europe ’72. We’d read the album covers and the liner notes. We never felt hurried, like we should be doing something else.

Our record collections were tangible. We could browse through them like books. The joy of picking out a record, taking it out of the sleeve and putting it on the turntable was a ritual to our passion.

And a huge kick in the head is the news that Rick Rubin is now a co-President at Columbia Records.

NYTimes: “The Music Man”:

“That’s the magic of the business,” he said. “It’s all doom and gloom, but then you go to a Gossip show or hear Neil in the studio and you remember that too many people make and love music for it to ever die. It will never be over. The music will outlast us all.”

Rick Rubin has been a force in music that has influenced me for the last twenty years. He’s now producing Metallica’s latest and hopefully will return them to greatness. Can any one ‘save’ the music industry? No. But it can be re-invented. And Rubin can play a major role.

As Dave Rogers puts it for Paul Potts, that opera singer that Rubin was gushing about, “the love of the art preceded the opportunity to exploit it, commercially” – that’s something Rubin has always understood. His pursuit of Hip-Hop, Metal, or Roots Rock (the Black Crowes) acts before they were mainstream always made him stand out. His search for the pure soul of an artist, whether it be Neil Diamond or Johnny Cash, exemplifies it.

Rick Rubin being Co-President of Columbia does mark me as old however. He and the music he’s promoted, are no longer on the fringes of the mainstream, and now he’s part of the machine.

Lets hope it gets interesting.

Now on to other matters… “do you know why i know life isnt fair”:

cuz even the donnas had to form their own label. dropped by atlantic after “fall behind me” only made a few suits rich, the donnas are doing their own thing now, shunning their donna c, donna s., schtict and now using their real names, the donnas rocked the world famous viper room last night for their album release party of Bitchin’, which drops today.

Bottom line: The Donnas rock.

Play Like A Girl: “Clean sweeping arpeggios for guitar”:

Oh dear. Two weeks is nowhere near enough time to master a challenging new technique. Our fast-paced culture of instant gratification leads many people to expect to totally kick ass at new skills within an extremely short time. If they can’t manage, they think they either don’t have the “talent” for it or that they must be doing something horribly wrong.

Some skills just take time to develop. And beware: there are plenty of guitarists out there who will lie about grossly underestimate the amount of time and effort they need to master a given technique, just so they will appear more “talented.” This is total bovine excrement. So cut yourself some slack, realize that any skill takes time to develop, and don’t compare your own progress with other people’s.

From my favorite musician’s blog.

2 thoughts on “From The Donnas to Rick Rubin

  1. awesome post – I would rather see 1000 indie music labels than 5 or 6 multi-national majors. I am an ASCAP member and I record and produce my own stuff.

    With sites like Soundclick and Myspace for self-promotion, who would want to tour the east coast in a broken-down Econoline eating bread for dinner?


    p.s. Rubin almost ruined Linkin Park btw… Their last album was WAY too commercial. Chili Peppers went Pop too under Rubin. I pray that Lars features his signature 24″ double-bass and oversize toms — otherwise, it isn’t Metallica… I bet anyone a cold beer that we hear some acoustic guitars on this album… (ha ha). I thought Bob Rock did an awesome job on the Black Album, which I still listen to weekly…

  2. Linkin Park was already commercial man 🙂 I think yr right about the Chili Peppers though.

    I bet you no acoustic on the new Metallica album.
    $5.00 says the closest they get to that is an intro like on a Fade to Black.

    Rubin’s gotten them to tune their guitars back to standard tuning as well – which is part of the Metallica sound.

    I like the Black Album too – but the one thing that Some Kind of Monster documentary made clear – Bob Rock is the devil. Suitable for Motley Crue and Bon Jovi for sure – and maybe one Metallica album. But past that? Oh man. My heart aches.

Comments are closed.