THE PASSION OF THE CRANKS, PART 5
Since Christmas, CD sales have been in freefall. Is this the end of the music business as we know it? Or is it just a really crappy time for pop music?
Since the Thanksgiving week flood of new releases by megastars from the Beatles to Jay-Z, all's been quiet on the pop front. A little too quiet. I mean, take a look at the album chart and tell us what's gonna make Mr. and Miz Middle America go to their local record store, Wal-Mart, or iTunes. Dreamgirls -- the soundtrack to a movie based on a Broadway musical from 25 years ago. Thrilling. Daughtry -- cookie-cutter hard shlock from the American Idol winner. The Shins -- excellent album, but not the kind of thing that will get the attention of non-music geeks. A Disney soundtrack, Justin Timberlake, Akon... YAWN.
There's always great music that's out there under the radar. It's our job as retailers to get people to listen to stuff they normally wouldn't know about. We could talk all day about James Hunter or the Twilight Singers or the Essex Green or dozens of other current artists we love. But we need something to get the people in the shops or on the websites in the first place, and that something is the big chart hits. In our heyday, people came into NYCD to buy Alanis Morissette or Pearl Jam, but walked out with a half dozen other CDs, many of which they may not have heard of when they walked in. It's a lot harder for us to turn people on to music that's not so popular when they're not interested in the music that is popular.
So where are the new, fresh young faces that will wake us all up from our stupor and get us excited to buy music again? No doubt they're out there on a myspace.com page someplace, but will the right people hear them and bring them to the jaded masses? Do these young musicians even care if their music gets heard on the radio or if their physical CDs make it into physical stores? Or is the system so broken that we're going to be stuck with the same artists making the same music, until the last person stops listening and buying? And when that happens, who's gonna tell Hinder or Nelly Furtado to turn out the lights and lock up?