I have often wondered exactly at what point did the music industry lose hope…
I mean, watching the ARIA awards the other night… has Australia lost it’s way? where are all the long-term talents like Jimmy Barnes, Paul Kelly, The Sports, Jo Jo Zep etc?
My theory is that when Michael Gudinski decided to move on from Mushroom Records, and spend more time with his family, that this was the death rattle of good-quality Australian music. Granted, the music scene seems to be a rather talentless place, compared to what it was in the 1950’s, 60’s, 70’s and 80’s (and for the earlier part, even the 90’s!). Gone are the long-term music talent; the rock-star. These people who worked hard, poured their blood sweat and tears, both figuratively and in some case, actual blood sweat and tears, into their music and their talents have now been replaced with fast turnaround, limited experience and talent (Justin Beiber, Gaga, Simpson, Spears, etc) who, in some cases are on a world tour mere weeks after their album or single is released in the country they are touring, being publicised as the next best thing, sell sell sell, tour, then fade into the shadows of someone else who can fill their shoes.
Not only is this a sad thing for music lovers, but it can also turn out rather dangerous. For example, Susan Boyle, who not-so-recently won the Britain’s Got Talent conglomorate, to be catapulted into stardom, from a life of loneliness, home alone with her cat, never really been on a date. To go from that life, and in a mere few weeks, be on a world tour, meeting Royalty, performing for said Royalty, signing autographs, being mobbed by the notorious British paparazzi, and eager fans who want to meet her, talk with her, and congratulate her… is it any wonder she had a mini breakdown? Lashing out at reporters, losing her cool for the paparazzi’s delight and profit, all because she went from nothing to everything in a short time.
Of course, there is always the perfect example of being pushed into show-biz and being successful at it. Look no further than Michael Jackson. A young boy from a tough upbringing, little to no spare money, living it rough in the ‘burbs. Michael was still a child when the band started getting serious, and never experienced what most of us take for granted; a childhood. As a consequence, he later lived his adult life as an outcast, befriending children and trying to get back his lost childhood. He suffered deep psychological issues, but these were not diagnosed. simply from starting show-biz so early, being shot into stardom, and not learning from what was happening to him.
A true musical talent is not created, they experience life, learn from life, adapt, and should be eased into it.
Musical celebrities like Buddy Holly, Elvis, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, BB King, Ray Charles, Freddie Mercury, The Beatles, and countless other groups have learned from their experiences, progressed, and grown from their experiences. Granted, some of the people on my short list of examples DID die young, however some were accidental, some were misadventure. none were suicide. They simply seemed to have forgotten at the time, that too much of a good thing can sometimes kill you.
Recording companies need to learn some moral responsibility, learn that people are behind that song they heard and think could make them a lot of money. People with lives, a family, issues, and fragility. Not knowing this, or simply not caring will result in more and more one-hit-wonders, depressed musicians, and of course, lower the talent pool for what the next generation gets to idolise.
In short, labels need to start raising the bar, making it more difficult to get a deal, a tour, a million sales etc. although at first the money will slow, when people realise the old saying ‘Quality not Quantity’ and perhaps rediscover music for what it has essentially always been… a talent that should be nurtured and admired by all, whether they possess it or not.