Category Archives: Music

My first hobby, listening to music.

The current state of the music industry

This is a research paper I wrote last year. I think it is relevant to my blog, so here it is!

Is the Music Industry Corrupt?


What is the single most viewed video on YouTube? Is it a video of a talented dancer? Or perhaps one of a cute baby? None of these are the answer, for the current single most viewed video of all time is Justin Bieber’s music video of the song, “Baby”, followed closely by Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” (“Most Viewed Videos”). Of the top five most viewed videos of all time, four of them are music videos — this is a strong indication of how popular music is in our world today. But why these music videos are at the top may raise some questions: Talent? Appearances? Nudity? The answers to these questions trace back to the music industry itself. In today’s unstable music business, creating a song and distributing it to be listened to and liked by the public is a controversial task because there are temptations to use corrupted means to increase the chance of a song becoming popular.

The music industry is a complicated one. In most cases, an artist either looks for a personal manager or hires engineers to record the music him/herself (MacQuarrie, Gu, Guerra, Corredor, Hill). In the first instance, the personal managers will try to get the artists signed to a record label company. In the second case, the artist personally takes his/her recorded music to a producer and then to a publisher (MacQuarrie, Gu, Guerra, Corredor, Hill). From then on, the recordings go through the manufacturers and distributors until the recordings finally reach the public.

But there are even more stakeholders in the business: lawyers, business managers, and for some, songwriters. With all these stakeholders, how much does the actual artist/band get paid? The answer is approximately a startling 2.3% from every 1000 dollars a song makes (Jefferson). That means if a song makes a million dollars, the artist gets paid approximately 23,000 dollars.

Mainstream music, defined as “belonging to or characteristic of a principal, dominant, or widely accepted group, movement, style, etc.,” is the key component of the music industry. It is mostly listened to by the younger generations, and criticized by previous generations. Of the many similarities among mainstream music, one is the music videos. To attract viewers, many mainstream music videos incorporate drugs, parties, and most commonly, half-naked women who often have no relation to the song content whatsoever. These videos negatively influence viewers, especially the younger ones, and provide a horrible depiction of women.

Lyrics is another way mainstream music attracts listeners. “Out of the 279 most popular songs in 2005, only 9 percent of pop songs had lyrics relating to drugs or alcohol. The number jumped to… 77 percent for rap songs” (Parker-Pope).

So why is it that these songs are more popular than others?

One reason is that some songs are played more than others on the radio, mainly due to the record labels and radio stations. The role of the record label in the music industry is to manufacture, distribute, and promote a particular recording. As is the case with many corporations, corruption is present in almost all major record labels. The main form of corruption is payola, or pay-to-play — “the act of a record label or other interested party paying a radio station to play a certain artist (either in cash or in goods)” (McDonald).  This means the more money you give to the radio station, the more times they will play your song. “The public does not get to hear artists whose labels can’t afford to pay off the DJ” (McDonald). Obviously, for the extremely rich record labels, payola is a great strategy, but it unfairly harms others in the business. An artist not promoted through payola may experience sales failures especially if he/she releases an album at the same time as does an artist under a label that engages in payola. Though illegal, payola still happens every day: “In 2005, Sony BMG, one of the world’s largest record labels, was forced to pay out $10 million in fines after the state of New York found the company guilty of engaging in payola” (McDonald).

Unfortunately, most people — primarily teenagers — only look at the surface of what they are watching/listening to, and don’t see the corruption behind all of it. The entire audience is being dumbed-down: more and more mainstream music requires less and less talent but more random swearing and more half-naked men and women. Mainstream music is now a competition of which artist can wear the most ridiculous outfit and make the most ridiculous music video. There is corruption in the royalties, corruption in the music videos, corruption in the lyrics, corruption in the major record labels, corruption in the radio. In other words, the music industry is corrupt.

Sources

Boehlert, Eric. “Pay for play.” Salon.com. 14 Mar. 2001. Web. 6 Sept. 2010. <http://dir.salon.com/ent/feature/2001/03/14/payola/index.html>.

Jefferson, Cord. “The Music Industry’s Funny Money.” The Root. Washingtonpost Newsweek Interactive, 6 July 2010. Web. 7 Sept. 2010. <http://www.theroot.com/views/how-much-do-you-musicians-really-make?page=0,1>.

Lamb, Bill. “Major Pop Record Labels: The Big Four.” About.com Top 40-Pop – Songs, Charts, Top 40 Reviews, Pop Music. The New York Times Company, Web. 7 Sept. 2010. <http://top40.about.com/od/popmusic101/tp/majorlabels.htm>.

MacQuarrie, Rebecca, Yixin Gu, Elaine Guerra, Nathalie Corredor, and William HIll. “Music CD Company Supply Chain.” Music CD Industry. Duke University, 6 Apr. 2000. Web. 3 Sept. 2010. <http://www.soc.duke.edu/~s142tm01/chain2.html>.

McDonald, Heather. “Payola: Influencing the Charts.” Music Careers – Music Industry Careers – Finding Music Business Careers. The New York Times Company, Web. 7 Sept. 2010. <http://musicians.about.com/od/musicindustrybasics/i/Payola.htm>.

“Most viewed Videos.” Youtube. 3 Sept. 2010. <http://www.youtube.com/charts/videos_views?t=a>

Parker-Pope, Tara. “Under the Influence of…Music?” Health and Wellness. The New York Times, 5 Feb. 2008. Web. 3 Sept. 2010. <http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/02/05/under-the-influence-ofmusic/>.

“Top 100 Music Hits, Top 100 Music Charts, Top 100 Songs & The Hot 100.” Billboard. Web. 3 Sept. 2010. <http://www.billboard.com/charts/hot-100#/charts/hot-100>.

Tyrangiel, Josh. “Auto-Tune: Why Pop Music Sounds Perfect.” TIME. 5 Feb. 2009. Web. 4 Sept. 2010. <http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1877372,00.html>.

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What YouTube Has Become

What has YouTube become?

Click image for enlargement!



 This. What YouTube has become is a(n) ___________.

Many years ago, YouTube was devoid of advertisements. Maybe not completely free of, but free enough of them that the average user could spend hours watching and exploring videos without noticing a single advertisement.

Those were the good times.

Now, it is near impossible to do so. No longer can I watch a YouTube video without my eyes and ears being exposed to the infestation that is YouTube advertisements.

I may not have the slightest inkling of how a company functions, but I do know that advertisements are one of YouTube’s main sources of revenue. I guess it was inevitable for this to happen, by which I am referring to a) advertisements before videos begin and b) huge advertisements on the main page.

I went onto YouTube (South Korea) this afternoon and was met with a huge photograph (and later video) of a woman with the maximum amount of cleavage possible. Did I accidentally type the URL of a pornography site by accident? I would not be surprised if I had.

The URL, however, read www.youtube.com.

This is a major trend in contemporary society. That is, an ongoing competition of inappropriateness — the more = the better. It is found in music, television, movies, advertisements, etc. But what can be done about this? Maybe one day, advertisements will only feature naked people, and people will walk around completely naked.

P.S. The woman’s name in the picture is Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. Just in case.

Earphones I hate

Disclaimer: This blog post is written fully from my opinions, and my opinions only. Please write any disagreements as comments!

I thought it would be in order to blog about the earphones I despise, since my previous post was about earphones I love.

The pair of earphones I hate the most are:

The Bose In-Ear Headphones

These, unfortunately, are the earphones I hate the most. The name In-Ear headphones may be misleading, because they don’t provide the noise-cancelling feature a customer might expect. Bose decided to be all fancy and create silicone ear tips, shaped to fit almost nobody. They (from my experience) barely cling on to the inside of your ear, succeptable to falling out at any time. The sound quality is nothing special. The only positive to these particular earphones is the name value. Bose should stick to speakers and headphones, because those are definitely great.

P.S.: An upgraded model named Bose In-Ear 2 has been released, but I can still safely say that it is disappointing. The silicone tips have become even more deformed and the sound quality is a little better if not the same.

Earphone Recommendations

Are you looking for some good earphones? Well, before you purchase your next ones, take a look at this list I compiled of my personal favorites:

1) Ultimate Ears Triple.Fi 10 Pro

These badboys are originally around $400, but now you can find them new for the $200 mark. I am currently using these, and I’ve got to say these are definitely the best ones I have ever used. They have replaceable cables, so if your original cables go faulty, you can renew your earphones for a cheap price!
For iPhone/Smartphone users, there is a separate cable that can be purchased for talking whilst on the phone.

<http://www.pocketables.net/2008/12/quick-look-ulti.html>

2) Klipsch Image s4i

At $100 a pair, the Klipsch Image s4i comes in a close second. The price may be cheap, but you get the maximum value for your money. . I have used these personally, that is until I purchased the earphones above. There are two versions, one has the mic while the other one does not. There are different colors available.

<http://www.techdigest.tv/2010/04/klipsch_image_s.html>

3) Apple In-Ear Headphones

These are just a little cheaper than the Klipsch Image s4i. Apple has done a great job of improving their previous In-Ear Headphones, which are one of the worst earphones I have ever used. Their new one though, is extremely comfortable to use, and the sound quality is on a par with the higher end models of other brands. There is also a built in microphone available. The only problem may be that their white cable might get dirty over time.

<http://www.appleinsider.com/articles/09/07/14/apples_in_ear_
headphones_receive_a_subtle_upgrade.html
>

Which of Slash’s bands is the best?

Guns N’ Roses, Velvet Revolver, Slash’s Snakepit — all three of these bands have on thing in common, and it is that each of these bands at one point included the legendary guitarist Slash. But which of these are the best?

Without a doubt, this entire blog post is opinionated. There will be disagreements.

The order in which Slash was in is Guns N’ Roses, then Slash’s Snakepit, then Velvet Revolver.


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If I were to compare the modern day Guns N’ Roses with any of the two other bands, it would be ranked the lowest, hands down. But if I were to compare the time in which Slash was in Guns N’ Roses, it would be ranked the highest, hands down. Comparing bands is a difficult task, but the solos Slash did in Guns N’ Roses are so much better than the ones he did elsewhere. Primarily the ones in Paradise City (outro), Nightrain, November Rain (outro), the riff in Sweet Child O’ Mine, etc.


Next would be Slash’s Snakepit. Slash was least known for his time in this band, but his solos were definitely up there with the ones from Guns N’ Roses. The band did a good job utilizing their gift that is Slash. Some songs to listen to are Been There Lately, Neither Can I, Monkey Chow, Take It Away, etc.

Last is Velvet Revolver. Don’t get me wrong, I love Velvet Revolver. But unfortunately, they are nowhere near the levels of Guns N’ Roses and Slash’s Snakepit. The vocals is better than Slash’s Snakepit’s, but the solos are not. The band does not do a good job of emphasizing Slash’s presence. Their songs are still good; ones to listen to are Let It Roll and Slither.

The reason I wrote about this is because my concerts for the Slash concert in Korea have arrived! Two weeks later, I will be watching the master performing some of his greatest works from all three bands. The final setlist for Koera is not published, but this is what he performed in Australia a couple days back:

<setlist.fm>

This setlist, in my opinion, is almost as good as it can get. The lack of Snakepit songs is disappointing but it is still all good.  Paradise City being their last song is a great idea, for its outro is truly a great way to end a concert. I can’t wait!

Helloween and Eagles coming to South Korea

The German power metal band, Helloween, as well as the American rock band, the Eagles, have announced a couple weeks ago that they will come to Korea in March 2nd and March 15th, respectively.

Both bands epitomize their genres of music. Without a doubt, the Eagles are much more popular here in Korea. Big name, classic artists such as Eric Clapton and Stevie Wonder are popular here, while lesser known bands such as Iron Maiden and Helloween are not.

I like them all, but it would be great if tickets for the latter concerts sold more…numerous concerts in the past had to be canceled due to the lack of sales in concert tickets. And considering I prefer metal over classic rock, it saddens me to see such poor ticket sales.

The Iron Maiden and Helloween concerts are in critical condition, and are on the verge of canceling. Not to mention that metal and alternative rock concerts are much more exciting than classic rock pop concerts, because the former have standing areas. Sitting down and watching a concert may be fun, but standing up and watching is a million times more worth the money and the best experience one can have at a concert, and so that is what I recommend to anybody wanting to go to a concert.

Rock of Ages Broadway Cast Review

There was no better musical to watch this summer than the world renowned Rock of Ages. The show was on August 5th, at 8 P.M., Broadway. The Broadway cast included many stars such as Mitchell Jarvis, Paul Schoeffler, Amy Spanger, and more. This musical was the perfect one for me. It was of my favorite genre; furthermore, my favorite era in my favorite genre. The musical is about an aspiring rock vocalist going after success in a town. The storyline was definitely cheesy, but the music in it was of the most impressive quality. The instruments were mostly those used in the Rock genre, including electric guitar, bass, keyboard, etc., with people of both genders and all ages singing.

As I said, the genre was Rock and Roll — specifically that of the 70s and 80s, which is without a doubt my favorite era and when a majority of my music is from. The cast covered/remade/mashed up songs of many different artists such as “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey, “The Final Countdown” by Europe, “We’re Not Gonna Take it” and “I Wanna Rock” by Twisted Sisters, “More Than Words” by Extreme, and lots more. They also mashed up songs, for example, “I Hate Myself For Loving You” by Joan Jett and “Heat of the Moment” by Asia. My favorite part of the show was the guitar solos. The guitarist is the guy from Night Ranger, and though he was not in the actual storyline itself, he was able to be seen playing behind the main cast along with the drummer, bassist, and rhythm guitarist.

Most songs included intense solos, but my favorite was definitely the last two minutes of the musical. What happened was first, the main cast sang “Don’t Stop Believin’” as an encore/closer, and then when they were done, the guitarist played the entire song again as a sort of remixed solo. He didn’t play what Journey played originally, instead, he must have rewritten the entire song in a guitar solo. It is hard to describe, and so I recommend that the reader search it up on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZmoVLduOY-Y) and play it from 5:50. Overall, I definitely loved this musical especially because I could relate to it so much. Some may argue that they butchered some of the songs by covering them,  and while I agree on some levels, the cast did an excellent job on a majority of the songs and gave a nice twist to it, without making it any more modern than the original was. The mashups were nice. The vocals were pretty good, and the cover band did not change any part of the song too much that it would be noticeable. I would watch it again with no problems.