Five rules to improve the music industry
As you may have heard, the music industry is singing its own version of the blues this fall. Big-budget pop acts like Britney Spears and ‘N Sync are still selling lots of CDs, but not quite as many as they did of their previous albums in 2000. Among the reasons cited for the slump: the recession, the war, waning interest in that genre.
Perhaps, but here’s another reason records aren’t sailing out of the stores: There’s too much to buy.
Last Tuesday, I stopped by my local Tower, and there in the new-release section were ? let’s see if I can remember them all — Creed, Kid Rock, Prince, Sting, Jill Scott, Timbaland, Sarah Brightman, Rickie Lee Jones, and Pink. In the same and adjacent aisles was the barrage of albums that had arrived the PREVIOUS week: Madonna, Paul McCartney, Garth Brooks, Radiohead, Marc Anthony, Shakira, Ghostface Killah, Rob Zombie, Natalie Merchant, Shelby Lynne, Mick Jagger.
Fall is traditionally the time of year when superstar acts decide it’s time to unleash new music. But this is getting ridiculous. According to current estimates, 30,000 new albums are released every year. December in particular is becoming every rapper’s delight; next month, De La Soul, OutKast, Mobb Deep, Lil Bow Wow, the Wu-Tang Clan, and Master P. will all bring out new work.
In light of this overabundance of albums and underabundance of buyers, here’s MY holiday wish list — a game plan for the music industry in the new year.
Singles acts shouldn’t be permitted to make entire albums. We all know that the likes of O-Town and Mandy Moore have at best one good song in them. Do we need more? No. Have them record one song at a time, and save them up for a future ”Now” anthology.
No reissuing of albums before their time. The entire remastered Malo back catalogue recently arrived. You may remember them for their one ’70s hit, ”Suavecito.” There’s a reason the other albums didn’t do as well.
No new releases by acts with little left to offer. Do we actually need Twisted Sister’s latest, ”Club Daze Volume II,” featuring newly recorded concert versions of ”Johnny B. Goode” and ”Long Tall Sally”? Of course not. We’re just not gonna take it anymore.
No unnecessary boxed sets. I love kitschy Kiss songs as much as anyone, but even I have to admit that the thought of wading through their new five-disc retrospective is about as appealing as seeing Gene Simmons without makeup.
No unnecessary Christmas albums. To elaborate on a recent Hot Topic by my colleague Tom Sinclair, there is simply no place in the world for yuletide albums by faded ’90s Latin pop star Jon Secada and various ”TRL” types.
With these simple rules, we can conserve fuel, make life far less confusing and more cost-effective for fans, and jump-start the economy. Plus, they’ll make Santa’s wish lists leaner, and the old guy has enough to worry about this year.