I’m Sorry I Hated SXSW but I Have a Valid Reason

Oh no…don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to come off as a venting, disgruntled employee. I’ve thought hard about my “job” and my place in the “industry” and I still feel passionately about The Dears – I have hope and I believe in the future. We are lucky to be working with some very special people. What I’m trying to point out are the peripheral symptoms of a major problem: a saturated market with a staggering turnover rate. Every release is hyped up and then forgotten and replaced by the next over-inflated beast. There’s no place for accountability, or for labels to really try their best to grow a band. The “industry” (majors AND indies) operates on the notion that if it doesn’t stick, dump it and move on to the next thing. The desperation results from the relentless hunt for the new hotness, for everyone’s desire to have their finger on the pulse of North American Cool Culture, to keep one step ahead. How can a market be sustained if there are hundreds of thousands of new, similar products in stores every year? Accessibility is the next issue: nobody wants to pay for a CD that’s just OK, or that only has one good song, or that has no good songs on it at all. There’s no quality control and its a free-for-all out there. So: the customer is downloading tracks for free (because chances are its gonna suck), and anyone with a $2000 computer can churn out music at an astonishing rate (again, with the “something’s gotta stick” mentality).

Interestingly, the last manufacturer of tape just ceased production. Who can afford to record on tape anymore? With withering advances, bands can barely afford to go into a proper studio to record their albums. Everyone is settling for less, putting less into it and therefore getting less out. A half-assed song will only ever be that. We joke about the bands that have a manager, an agent, band photos, a video, haircuts and looks, but that don’t have any direction: no songs, not a single creative idea at all. Its too easy to chase the rockstar dream then wait around for some ding-dong label dude to make it come true. It doesn’t work that way anymore. We’ve got to take back the night.

Or maybe I’m just growing up, I’m less idealistic, I don’t have time for the dog and pony show. I can’t pretend that my life in a band is perpetually going to be a Van Wilder movie. Everyone has to decide where their life is going, has to guide fate’s hand just a little bit. I mean, it’s hard to raise a band: when it learns how to walk, watching it on its first day of release, growing up, getting zits, getting out into the real world. And there will always be bumps along the road; life comes jam-packed with yummy bumps. Raising Neptune will be a joke after raising The Dears.

And my point being? You, reader, listener, blogger, don’t settle for less. Don’t buy crappy music. And don’t believe the hype. Go to shows, decide for yourself. Listen to songs that make you think about life, songs that make you feel. We’ve been conditioned to be extraordinary consumers and now it is killing us (literally…ever heard of climate change? or childhood obesity?). Be savvy, be accountable for your own life.

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