Too Many Bands!
The year is 2014 and the music world has become a cesspool of unfavorable mediocrity; millions of sub-par bands all vying for the life of a rock star. Record labels have traded in long hard hours to develop an artist's career with time and dedication, and have instead opted to take the quick-fix route. Forget hoping and believing that one artist is capable of selling a gold or platinum album. The new rule of thumb is "Quantity over Quality". It is so much easier to sign fifty bands that will sell twenty-thousand copies of an album rather than one who may sell a million. The name of the game is greed my friends.
For the most part, the powers that be are not concerned in the slightest with molding and shaping an artist's career, but they are extremely serious about how much money THEY can make off of said artist. In addition to the corruption of the primary Record making industry, there are twice as many independent and personally owned labels and marketing companies/campaigns attempting to push their band of choice to every corner of the world. The vast majority of these companies represent the worst of the worst in the music biz. While my inbox is usually crammed full of offers to download and review these atrocities my physical mailbox is equally bombarded with a nice set of coffee coasters each month.
I do understand that, due to the amount of illegal downloading, record companies have seen a steady decline in the revenue they once received and thus the bands lose as well. The difference is that many artists who used to live the Rock Star life have been forced to scale down their lifestyle, and yet they continue to tour and record albums because that is their passion. Most muscians and people in general are content to live in a nice home, not a mansion, and own one or two cars; not ten. As long as the bills are paid and they can play their music, they're good. On the other hand, label execs want to live like Rock Stars themselves and have no passion for what they do. It's a numbers game for them pure and simple and all they can see is dollar signs. Assuring that they continue to lead the life of their choosing, living in fancy homes, driving expensive cars, driving expensive cars, and indulging in all the perks that go with the territory, they are more than willing to starve the working musician to get what they feel they deserve.
As a result of the mass amount of bands being pushed in today's age, it is absolutely impossible to review, interview, or cover every artist. The problems that arise from too many bands on the playing field are many. First and probably the most tragic is the fact that quality artists stand very little chance of discovery because having to sift through the rubble of mediocrity that is thrust upon us really is like looking for a needle in a haystack. More often than not the amazing band we all hope to find is subsequently overlooked. Publicity firms and record labels sign and push every band under the sun and represent some more well known artists as well. Now, in the early days of the magazine, I tried to score as many brownie points as I could by covering the lousiest bands on the planet and discovered some really awesome ones in the process. This compromise was all in order to get access to the more prominent artists on their roster. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn't. Having found a niche in covering the underground Metal scene for more than a decade now, I've gained the respect of many of these labels and firms and pretty much cover whom I please and now get the bigger named artists without question. Still, new publicists are always emerging from the woodworks and try their damndest to pitch me their pile of crap bands. At this stage of the game I find it ludicrous that I would be forced to compromise my integrity once again, all in the hope of scoring the artists I want to give attention to. When my plans don't work out, nothing angers me more than realizing I spent my precious time working for something I didn't get. As it is, I do not get paid for the job I do, and my only compensation is being able to enjoy the artists I like. Not cool when that is taken from me.
In my opinion, and not just mine, but labels need to flip this problem around and sign more quality bands and fewer crap bands. In the last month I have received over a hundred requests for me to review and interview bands that; I've never heard of, don't like, and wouldn't recommend to my worst enemy. I tend to pick a few and listen to as many as I can, usually the first few seconds lets me know whether to keep listening and I review what I like or can at least tolerate. On average I'd say that I hear from about half a dozen labels with between ten and twenty releases per month per label. It is just ridiculous to expect me to review that many albums in a month's time when most of them just outright suck. I like to think that I have integrity when it comes to my reviews and I do not push bands that I, myself cannot, at the very least, respect in some manner.
Over-saturating the market is not the answer, and unless something changes drastically, the future of the music business will surely fall in a most miserable and tragic way. The musical arts, in any form should be something to be cherished, respected, encouraged and nurtured. Allowing mediocrity to become the norm is only history repeating itself and will ultimately see us thrust into another dark age of second-rate artistry. Stop this madness before it gets any further out of control!