Two Minutes to Midnight

Rock has been pronounced dead – again.

In the UK singles charts, rock songs fell to their lowest level in about half a century in 2010 (The Guardian).  Has rock become ‘history’ or are notices of its ‘death’ premature? From all accounts, the corpse isn’t even cold. Sickly, perhaps.

Roll over Beethoven. Time to give Tchaikovsky Bach.

According to Billboard, rock album sales dropped by 16 percent in 2010; 25% in CD format.

Charts and sales.

Not only ‘rock’s’ problem.

Have the music charts become irrelevant? 

Or is it just another bit of distortion. Dorian Gray? The real picture paints more than a thousand words.

Who exactly buys ‘singles’ now? I will buy a single as a completist – for some artists. I have their entire music catalogues. B-sides and rarities are a special treat for me. Many artists do not release ‘singles’ – just album downloads that can be turned in to ‘singles’. I do pick and choose ‘singles’ from iTunes. Personal preference. Not a fan of album ‘filler’. Just trying out a music artist. Some don’t have me at ‘hello’. Occasionally finding older tracks that have not been remastered and digitised as the original album but are part of some compilation.

Combined sales of albums and track-equivalent albums fell 9.5% in 2010.

No music genre has been spared. Much of the music industry is on life-support. 

The grim numbers, of course, don’t reflect illegal downloads. Not paying doesn’t mean not listening.

Resurrecting ‘rock’ isn’t the music industry’s challenge for this decade. It’s changing the business model of how music is packaged and sold. Getting people to pay for what they hear.

Perhaps it’s time for fewer geographical music purchasing restrictions. And copyright law reform. Not the band-aid of an iPod tax that’s being proposed (and most likely will be defeated) in Canada. Or other test European models.  Tech-savvy recording artists take full advantage of Web 2.0 and social media – Twitter; Facebook/MySpace/Tumblr marketing;  Google Apps; YouTube for videos, etc.  Indie artists sell their CDs at their gigs and online. Bypass the suits. Oh yes, the medium is the message, ironically falling on deaf ears.

Of course, much of the music ‘money’ is now made through tours. Much longer ones for many artists. Nostalgia was big business last year: Bon Jovi, U2, AC/DC, Metallica, the Eagles, and Paul McCartney all found a home in the top 10 earners’ list. Nostalgia will be around for a long time. More bands will take their turn this year.

Music is cyclical. Rock still has a long way to go before it becomes a museum exhibit. Done and dusty.

Time for something new and fresh.  Not so…corporate.

Sonically free.

Time for some real guitar heroes.

Rock and roll is a vicious game.  The players have changed. As have the rules. Now it’s a new game, with a new name.

Perhaps a return/revisit to a post-modern punk sound or stripped-down post-grunge. Guitar-based aggression. A welcome antidote to the saccharine pop-a-licious treacle currently oozing from the airwaves. Black death, are you listening.

I know that I certainly will be.


~ by hooklineandthinker on February 11, 2011.

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