Over the past ten years a majority of the top ten songs on the Billboard charts has been consistent trendsetters. Songs that have saturated radio airwaves by the masses are placed in constant rotation to enthrall us. These songs appeal to a certain audience that often allow those in the music industry to capitalize on the opportunity to gain new fans of the most popular genres of music today. But some of these genres of today music have lost the luster for true music lovers, that they often resort to the classic CD’s from their youth just to hear music they deem as good music.
But what is considered “good music”? According to industry executives, “good music” is “any music that can capture the attention of an audience.” However; for the demographic of listeners in their mid twenties to mid thirties, “good music” is music that’s worth listening to many years after, and whose lyrics has meaning and depth.
So if the music industry has released nothing but “good music” over the past ten years, then why is it that the demographic of listeners in their mid twenties, thirties and older doesn’t find it worth listening to?
After further discussion with Atlanta’s LS Muzik Group, a company representative says, “most of the music that is released today has a certain appeal that reflects the trend set during that time. If at that time, snap music or crunk music is the sound that’s in, then that’s what the trend will follow. It is rare that you’d find “good music” [from the likes of] a Neyo, R. Kelly, Usher, Mary J Blige, Anthony Hamilton, or Musiq Soulchild to name a few. Not including good folk, rap, country, gospel, blues, jazz, or alternative rock music from some great artists who are worth listening to also. But out of the few named, there’s really not that many artists today that has potential for longevity. These artists are force fed to the consumer just to make record sales. We truly doubt half of them will be around to play sold out arenas in the next ten years.”
Hoping to bridge the gap between the two demographics of listeners in their mid twenties to mid thirties, the company looks to bring back good music that is worth listening to by adapting the Motown approach by signing good talent and releasing heartfelt songs with meaning.
Although the idea to bring back good music is what LS Muzik Group intends to do, there’s still that certain group of listeners the company may struggle to gain. Mainly because the music industry have already captured the attention of this group over the past ten years with music that has a sound of its own, a sound that has captivated them with what LS Muzik Group deems as over synthesized sounds. It is unclear however, as to how the company plans to win over that demographic, when all they know is what the music industry have force-fed them.
And because of this, the dividing line between the two demographics has left a void in the music industry, simply because true music lovers aren’t as fascinated with listening to over synthesized sounds that has little to no substance. This has crippled record sales over the past ten years.
In spite of the clever marketing initiatives by the music industry to capture true music lovers, the effort hasn’t been significant enough to impact their decisions to enjoy listening to the music released today thereby causing most of the music released today to barely go gold or platinum. This is all due in part not only to the Internet, but because true music lovers in their mid twenties, thirties, and older who enjoy good music, are not buying what is most popular today. But if what’s popular is Trey Songz or Chris Brown, then how is it that either of the two artists survives in such an industry where their level of success or failure is dictated by their marketing, and not their music.
“Record companies have gotten somewhat smart on how they market and release artists. Their idea to market and release Chris Brown or Trey Songz on the same Tuesday as they would Robin Thicke or K Jon isn’t the same. Simply because record sales for Chris Brown or Trey Songz may be slim for the first week of release, that marketing and releasing Trey Songz against K Jon on the same date would immobilize their sales goal of going gold or platinum, against a more likely artist that can, who has a more mature fan base of true music lovers who enjoy listening to good music,” says one industry executive.
This scenario is all too common in the industry today, whereas album release dates are rescheduled all due in part to industry executives being aware of the competition. Often times that competition is welcomed in what appears to be a rivalry to see who can out sell the other, as with the Kanye West and 50 Cent release in 2007. Rivalries such as this makes for clever marketing that will often propel record sales through the roof the first week of release, causing artists to go platinum. However at what cost to record companies? “Record companies can pay millions of dollars to market an artist all at the expense of gaining a few true music lovers. The gamble is to win the few they think will be loyal followers. While hoping the artists does their part to deliver good music to keep them [the fans] loyal.”
But with dismal record sales on the rise, artists are struggling to deliver good music to keep true music lovers devoted. Long gone are the days of the Motown Sound, Disco, P-Funk, and New Jack Swing era that we’ve all grown so accustom to that has found its way in music today through the practice of “sampling”; that most artists have lost all sense of creativity to produce almost anything remotely appealing to true music lovers. In order to win them over without the over synthesized sounds, they must sample or take portions of music from great artists like Teddy Pendergrass or The O’Jays just to get their attention.
So how can music get a fresh revitalization to capture the attention of true music lovers? Well according to LS Muzik Group, “bring back live musicians and artists who feel passionate about love and family values.” This could well be true, being that everything in heavy rotation on the radio is all about sex. “Where are the family values in the songs we hear today, there aren’t any. Most parents today don’t want their children listening to the radio, mainly because all they’re hearing is about sex.” From Trey Songz “Invented Sex”, to R. Kelly’s “Number One”, songs like these have saturated commercial radio and have left somewhat a bad taste in the mouth of true music listeners.
However artists like R. Kelly who has a solid fan base of loyal true music listeners, releasing songs like “Number One” is often well taken, being that an artist of his caliber is able to release just about anything and go platinum.
The musician in R. Kelly has allowed for him to survive in an industry that lacks creativity. Yet, he manages to stay in touch with his fan base while adjusting his talents to accommodate both younger and older audiences with songs like, “Number One”. But can the same be said of an artist [like a] Trey Songz? “Trey Songz is a talented artist; however, his fan base of course is entirely different from that of an R. Kelly or Robin Thicke not only because of the way he’s marketed, but also how he appeals to an audience that doesn’t understand good music. But considers what he sings to be. Keep in mind we are talking about a group that may not have even grew up listening to “good music” from the 70’s, 80’s or 90’s.”
Because of this lack of understanding, Trey Songz is able to sustain a fan base based entirely on his talents as a singer, songwriter and producer and thereby, creating music that his record label deems worthy of marketing and releasing to his fans. It is this group of listeners who are twenty-five and under, the music industry caters to without a second thought of catering to the older audiences. Why is this? It appears that a majority of the top ten songs on the Billboard charts is created by artists who themselves are twenty-five years of age and under, and who are basically creating music just for their age group. This has allowed for teenagers and young adults with a great deal of disposable income to spend their earnings from part-time jobs, birthday and holiday money on music, thereby pumping a small breath of life into the industry to keep it a live. So what’s going to happen once this age group gets much older and mature? Are they likely to even consider listening to Trey Songz or Chris Brown ten years from now?
The combination of good marketing combined with good talent can make artists such as Trey Songz a huge success because of the trend set in the industry today. Allowing record companies to capitalize off their talents now, and possibly tomorrow, depending on the terms of the artist-recording contract. Whereas in the days of Motown-“good music” was all it took to propel the success of an artist. It was imperative that Berry Gordy developed and released artists he knew could create “good music” that’s worth listening to many years after. This process of artist development became a critical element in the music industry up until 2000, when record labels took the time to develop an artist for longevity.
But if the trend has been set in motion to follow music that’s been hot for over the past ten years, then going against what the industry is doing to bring back “good music” with great lyrical content, is what LS Muzik Group looks to do and pave a way of their own in the industry.
With a well driven team of professionals and a roster of talented musicians and singers like Mr. Tao Jones and Jackie Watson who seek to change the direction of music released in the industry today, it is likely that “good music” can make a major comeback in commercial radio.
But what would be the downside to all of this? One major downside would be discovering more artists like Mr. Tao Jones and Jackie Watson who have the passion to write and sing “good music”. The other is how to reach the demographics twenty-five and under who are captivated with what they’ve heard on the radio for the past ten years. To this group of listeners, growing up in an era where music is either sampled or synthetically created is all they know to be good music. However not understanding where the music they’re listening to originally derived from.
Music from the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s is now considered old school to this younger audiences, which today has all become obsolete, leaving room for a younger hip sound that’s all synthetically created like fast food. So what was once old, is now new again.
Take Monica’s “Everything”, a melodic rendition of Denise Williams, “Silly”. This is a classic example of an artist who feels passionate about love and family values, has great talents, a solid fan base, and understands that the industry needs “good music”. However with the odds against her to accommodate her fans, record label, and a younger audience who thinks her music is old school, it is difficult for Monica or any artist of her stature from 70’s, 80’s and 90’s to make a comeback.
“In order to survive in the music industry today, an artist who once were in high demand during those days, would have to readjust their talents to accommodate the trend today in the industry. This doesn’t necessarily mean change the style of music that made them successful for years, but do what it is they do best while incorporating a younger hip sound that will appeal to both audiences.”
However not all artists can readjust and appeal to a younger audience. Artists like Monica are learning that the industry has changed dramatically over the years with an all-new sound that has made it somewhat complicated to adjust to, making it difficult to comeback. But often times an old school artist can return like they’ve never left and go platinum. Take Charlie Wilson, former member of the famed G.A.P Band or George Clinton architect of the band Parliament-Funkadelic, these artists have set a perfect example on how to readjust their talent in rap music to accommodate the trend of the industry to reach the younger audiences. It is this adjustment that Charlie Wilson and George Clinton were able to comeback with rap artists like Snoop Dogg and Ice Cube.
Although this strategy may have worked for Charlie Wilson and George Clinton-it is by far a long shot that other artists of 70’s, 80’s and 90’s can achieve. Because of the generation gap within the music industry, it is clear that fans are divided between what’s considered “good music” and what’s not. Therefore making it difficult to bridge the gap. And if record executives continue to overlook this issue, artist they consider as today stars will suffer immensely with record sales in the coming years, leaving them with a short term musical career. Here today, gone tomorrow.