March 31, 2012
by Chris Nelson
I just read something that really pissed me off. This folk artist Linda Chorney, who was recently nominated for a Grammy Award in the folk category, wrote about her recent dealing with some so-called music business representatives (You can read the article here).
First, I congratulate her on her nomination for the Grammy Award. This has nothing at all to do with her, other than her experience is one that is shared by many of us who have been making music for a long period of time.
The music industry is too heavily dependent on age. The fact that most people in the folk world are playing to an average age of about 44 just shows how out of touch these industry “suits” really are. Another colleague of mine, TJR, had recently had a run-in with the television show American Idol concerning the age requirements, which he lampooned in this music video. I’ve been told repeatedly that I am not marketable (that’s code for ‘young’). In fact, I have a nice little cult following which suits me just fine. I don’t want to be that marketable as it will destroy my sound. But I digress.
I find this situation very similar to the old sci-fi movie Logan’s Run where the inhabitants of this post-apocalyptic society were condemned to death after they reached age 30. Speaking as a mature person, if you will, it is quite obvious that people are capable of creative thinking well into their 70’s. This myopic focusing on the youth market is insane and counterproductive to the music industry and to music in general. Sure, once you have a name, you can go on creating well into your 80’s, but if you are a struggling artist, like Linda Chorney, then it seems rather difficult to just be heard. We have discounted a sizeable portion of the creative community with this sort of thinking.
I have absolutely no faith whatsoever in the commercial music industry or the products that they peddle. That’s right, I said peddle. Most of it is crap, whether it’s country, rock, or R & B. It’s the same old burned-out cliché’s they’ve been feeding us for at least twenty years now. It would seem that the same 1% rule that’s being used to describe Wall Street is also applicable to the commercial music industry. If we truly want to have another Beatles, Doors, or Pink Floyd, or even a Woody Guthrie, it will be up to us in the musician community to promote them. This is why the time has come for action within the local musician community.
I think it’s time that musician communities band together in order to get their music out. This can be done by organizing pockets of music communities in local cities and towns. These groups would organize and present their own showcases and possibly even setup a local shop for selling independent local music. Summertime is a great time to put on large outdoor events and it is important that featured local talent would be able to get paid for their time and trouble in addition to just gaining a few more Facebook or ReverbNation fans. I think if you offer folks a good time, they’ll be glad to pay a small amount of money for a an open-air music event.
I throw this out there in the hopes that someone will read this and hopefully refine this idea and act upon it. I’m quite serious about doing something like this and I hope I will get some support for it. We need to stand on our own as a creative community. Please feel free to contact me about this if through my web site at ChrisNelsonBand.com if you’d like to discuss it further. We all know how to make music, now let’s go make some noise!
Chris Nelson is a writer and musician from Lebanon, PA. His most recent album The Invisible Man was released in 2011.