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(guest memo by Jonathan Connor-Foertsch)

MEMO TO: The Recording Industry

Re: Are you out of your #$*&ing minds?!?

Guys. Seriously. I know revenue’s down, and things are lookin’ bad for new album sales, but what I’ve seen (or should I say heard?) recently? You’ve GOT to be kidding me.

Let’s not even get started on how idiotic some of your lawsuits have been recently. You recently sued (LINK TO THE STORY REGARDING THE NURSE BEING SUED HERE) someone who’s NEVER OWNED A COMPUTER, alleging she downloaded and distributed material using online file distribution systems.

But that’s another memo for another time. On to the REAL memo for today. Smile

The recording industry has pretty much always been known for innovation, very much like the man you seem to hate the worst these days, yet, you seem to have your heads stuffed in some sort of collective sandpile, afraid that the very innovation that made you as big as you are today will somehow contribute to your downfall. I just don’t get it.

I mean, I’m an eclectic when it comes to music, I’ll be the first to admit it. I’m just as much at ease listening to Elton John as I might be, say, listening to Joe Satriani. But the reason I enjoy such a wide range is because I appreciate the strides both artists took during their time to push what the world understood to be “acceptable” in the music industry to newer heights of technical achievement and artistry. Their predecessors did the very same thing. Elvis. Charlie Parker. BB King. All artists with the guts to give us increasingly better and more powerful music than the generation that preceded them.

But these days, what are you giving us? Songs that are literally done two, or three, or even sometimes FOUR times over in the same year. “Big Yellow Taxi” ringing any bells? Amy Grant and The Counting Crows both did that one in the same year. Granted, how often are you going to listen to both those folks in the same iPod arrangement? So to be fair, here’s another example: How about “How Do I Live”? Both Leanne Rimes and Trisha Yearwood did that song, IN THE SAME YEAR! That’s just plain laziness right there.

Oh, and don’t think that you, the mainstream recording industry, are the only offenders on this one. This one’s aimed squarely at none other than the Christian music industry too. Yeah, that’s right. As a volunteer technician for various groups that needed competent technical support, I had to suffer through HOURS of the same tired old songs, over and over again, and what’s worse, you were chasing after the mainstream industry in style, never making it more than just barely outside 6 months behind, so you sounded outdated and BORING.

Oh, and don’t even get me started on artists whose promoters are trumpeting their supposed “Triumphant return to the studio after X years.” The way they’re doing the same tired old style, they might as well not have bothered leaving.

Both of these industry groups have POWERHOUSE artists that are up and coming. They’re absolute stunners vocally and musically, and you’re literally muzzling them with old men and tired formulas. Sure, they still shine through all that crap, and manage to sneak in a good song here or there, but you’re killing your best chance at recovering from all this Sony and RIAA nonsense, and I’m not even sure you’re aware you’re doing it!

You want a fix for this? First, and most obviously, stop charging a Jackson Note for CD’s that are barely worth a 5 spot. 75% of Americans (LINK TO ARS TECHNICA ARTICLE HERE) think that you’re charging too much for music that isn’t worth the price they’re paying for it. You really should be giving thanks to Apple for teaching you a lesson about reasonably priced music and what it’s done to combat piracy (You remember piracy, right? That leech that was sucking your profit line dry until Steve came along?).

Second, start letting the new guys take the helm and make some kick-butt music. You used to do it that way, and you reaped the benefits many times over. They’re still here, but not for long if you keep shutting them out.

Third, unleash artists that deserve something more than candy corn CRAP albums and give them something MEATY to sing about! The best songs ever to exist have lush arrangements, HEARTFELT lyrics, and a group/soloist that actually CARED about what they were singing into the mike.

Fourth: You have the best equipment for recording audio that you’ve ever had in the over 90 years of history in recording sound. Start teaching your boys and girls how to properly use it, or replace them with folks who CAN use it. If I hear another album that has the vocals so deeply BURIED into the lead guitar or beatbox track that I have to EQ more than YOU did, I’m going to scream.

I’d like to say that when you WERE innovating, I truly enjoyed what you brought forth, and was willing to pay a lot more for decent albums. Please, for music’s sake, don’t let that memory fade into the night.

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