Is The Music Business Dead For Singing?
Currently there is a new interest on how old music is crushing new music.
This is also very true for the singing music industry.
But there are a lot of variables here.
Let’s take a look.
Much of this conundrum started at the advent of the singing competition TV shows around the world such as “American idol”, “The Voice”, “America’s Got Talent” and many others offshoots.
While “talent shows” are not new (some remember Ed McMahon’s “Talent Search” etc.) the more recent talent shows have had a very suffocating/controlling one dimensional effect on the music industry.
Let me explain:
There is an old term called A&R. A&R in the record industry stands for Artist and Repertoire. This was a very specific title for a talent scout from a record label to go out and find new talent that the label felt had a strong chance of success. The label would then spend large amounts of money developing this artist or band and promoting them as best as they could. In fact, it was rare that a band was successful on their first record and in many cases even their second record. The record company budgeted in the concept that it was about the third record where the band would be truly successful from then on.
Why does this matter?
Because artists and bands were given a chance to “develop”. This included their songwriting, they’re singing skills, their musical skills as instrumentalists, they’re live touring and stage presence, video concepts. Just all around complete package development.
This cultivated a huge desire for a young artist to want to express themselves musically, differently, competitively and diversely.
If you take a hard look at music from Big Band, Motown, Jazz, R&B, 60s rock and pop, 70s rock and pop, 80s rock and pop and some 90s you will see that bands viciously competed against each other for greatness and that number one slot on Billboard’s top 100.
I personally vividly remember practicing my guitar 4-5 hours a day and feeling like I was falling behind my goals to be like some of my guitar heroes. (and this didn’t even include singing, songwriting, stage performance, practicing with other players to get tight with a band and so on.)
Now let’s enter modern TV competition singing shows.
But I want to start with a question.
Can you name me one TV show where the artist was promoted predominantly from their own original music?
You can’t, because there aren’t any. This isn’t to say that they never have allowed a person to play an original song, but it was nowhere near the focus of the TV show.
What does that mean?
It means that the only thing that was promoted or “judged” was how well a singer sang a popular song by another artist that was already established.
This absolutely crushed individuality and creativity.
Now you might say, wait a minute Ken, the artists that did win some of these shows did go on to write and produce some of their own music.
While that may be true, what is more true is the dominance of mega networks only promoting “the cover song” and not true artistry.
It has often been said that it is highly unlikely that Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, David Bowie, or many other “Hall Of Fame” artists would have ever made it past the first round on one of these TV shows.
This is primarily because the emphasis was placed on “the high note”
or something silly or contrasty like a little girl singing Megadeth or a feel good story of a telephone salesman singing Nessun Dorma.
Not artistry, but antics and sensationalism.
Now let’s enter an even darker side.
Even within the singing competitions, everyone in the industry knows that they already know who they’re looking for and that the competition part is basically a joke and a way to keep people tuned in.
They begin the season looking for the next “Taylor Swift” and they have a pretty good person in mind who they think will fit the bill.
Much like Greg Brady fitting the jacket for those of you that remember the Brady Bunch episode.
If a zebra happens to stand out they will concede to it, but not very often. (let’s remember that even Adam Lambert didn’t make the cut).
When you combine that with all of the lip syncing, auto-tune AI, performances that barely exceed two minutes compared to an artist pouring their heart out for two hours five nights a week on a real stage, you see an immediate dumbing down of true artistry, virtuosity and “earning of the stripes” that creates perseverance and longevity.
So today you can go on the Internet or YouTube, grab a karaoke version of a song, get out your iPhone and record yourself and post it on YouTube and become a YouTube star.
This actually has created an interesting dynamic.
Records companies are no longer in complete control of the music industry. They will certainly try to control an artist after they become popular on the Internet if they can.
But it has also leveled the playing field for those that could not get past the gatekeepers of those record companies.
However search engines such as YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat and others only “favor” or feature “things being searched for.” Point being that a newer artist with a new song has an extremely difficult time competing for suggested views by YouTube and the likes because YouTube is only going to suggest songs that are being searched (i.e.
So what newer artists are finding is that they need to find success in the cover Song world first to build their audiences and then introduce their own original music to their audience that they have built.
In addition, older music is outpacing newer music considerably because the shelf life of newer music and the lack of substance cannot hold its value (so to speak). And therefore the songs fall off the charts as fast as they get on the charts.
I believe there will be two camps in the near future.
Those that love music and singing with substance, artistry, creativity and virtuosity.
And those that are just looking for “workout music” or no brainer “fun” feel good music.
In this video we explore the subject in greater depth.
If you have an interest in this I think you’ll find this video provocative.
Ken Tamplin Vocal Academy – Where the Proof is in the Singing!