Hey Chris –
Long time listener, first time caller. Diggin’ the blog. My questions:
* What was the biggest musical crime you saw? Meaning, which band either failed to live up to their potential and disbanded or never got signed and gave up?
* Being around all this music all the time, how did you keep yourself from turning into a jaded, fun-hating hipster?
* What are some of the biggest mistakes bands (or the Supersuckers, in your opinion), made?
Kyle – I’m a little jaded and I’ll never be that hip… I witnessed some great writers and performers who never got a fair shake but one could argue that’s pretty common in the arts. In fact, that’s just the way life is sometimes. You might sell the best burger in the world but chances are McDonald’s sells more. Nobody can tell me that McDonald’s makes the best burger…
The biggest crime is the value that has been placed on music and the arts in general. A specific example would be expecting songs for free. I think the value of a song and the craft of writing has diminished over the past 10 years. Songs don’t carry much value these days. Between downloading songs and getting paid peanuts when a song is used in film or TV what incentive does someone have to pursue this craft?
I also believe the music business lacks camaraderie. It’s sink or swim and that’s a bit disenchanting. A band should not have to pay to play. It’s not uncommon for bands to pay to be on tours or receive a meager sum by a huge National Act for a support slot. Oh I guess bands could always say “no” but that band is essentially gambling on the hopes that because they play in front of more people they’ll get more exposure, sell more records, and get paid a lot more next time around. I want to make it clear that getting paid peanuts for a support slot or paying to get on a tour isn’t always the case, but the fact that it happens is wrong. Most of the tours we did and bands we toured with took good care of us; Pearl Jam, The Underground Garage Tour, Reverend Horton Heat but we did turn down tours because the finances made no sense. In fact some offers were a slap in the face. And we probably did a few tours that we shouldn’t have done because that “gamble” didn’t pay off.
What the music business doesn’t seem to understand is that musicians are people with personalities. They’re not making burgers but instead they are the burger. Today we get what we pay for which is crap on the radio.
I think the music business really did a terrible job with consumer awareness and suing people for “stealing” music. My campaign would’ve been to have had respected artists and writers doing public service announcements making their case. Why getting paid to create is important much like being able to afford food is important. But when labels release the same album 3 different times on CD adding a few bonus tracks each time it’s hard to feel sympathetic. It’s such a slap in my face to pay $16.98 for a CD when I’ve already purchased it twice before (the non-re-mastered version and the re-mastered version) but this time it’s the Platinum Re-Mastered Edition w/ 2 bonus tracks. Seriously… What do labels expect from the public they continue to alienate…
In the case of the Supersuckers, we were able to make that connection with the fans. The fans knew they were a mom and pop business providing a product that supported them, paid their bills, provided food, etc… It wasn’t a faceless company. I’ve never met Mr. Warner of Time Warner but the fans could all meet Rontrose of the Supersuckers and when fans purchased a CD, it was a means of supporting their favorite band. Something that one could identify with and be proud to own.
We all made mistakes, but overall we got most of it right, and laid a great blueprint for bands to follow. I’d have to say the biggest mistake the Supersuckers made was to not push themselves. It’s tough going from the excitement and the challenges of the “Big Show” to the predictability of the “Same Show”. It’s unfortunate that a lot of fans never got to hear what I heard, which was the reason I invested so much in the band. As I’ve said, this band was bar none flat out incredible and hearing them play Sweet Emotion, Hey Ya, Mississippi Queen, Sail On, Then I’m Gone, She’s My Bitch, My Sharona, For Those About to Rock, etc… It was a magic that doesn’t often happen in an industry that wallows in crap. The lesson here is don’t serve the same old burger everyday…
Have a Good Week… Chris
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