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Monday, January 26, 2009

Actors and Musicians

I'm going to use my blog today to rant and rave about the "entertainment" industry. Remember when you could go to the movies, get popcorn AND a drink all for under $5? Well, I do. I also remember when you could get every channel available AND the premium movie channels all for under $100 a month. That actually wasn't really all that long ago.


Let me start this part by stating that just because you sing a song that someone else wrote (and produced)and you can get on stage and do a good rendition of that song, it does NOT make you an artist. It makes you a good entertainer or a good musician or a good vocalist, a good interpreter, but not an artist. That word is pretty much useless these days. Brittney Spears has been called an artist (???) I don't wince whenever I hear Prince called an artist because, let's face it, the guy is a musical genius and he does actually create his work from beginning to end. But Brittney? Celine? Cher? Kelly Clarkson? Michael Buble? Or any of the other too numerous entertainers to mention who don't create their music are interpreters at best.

Why is it that Diana Ross or the Temptations (as examples)are considered artists but Holland-Dozier-Holland are considered "song writers"? Holland-Dozier-Holland were three guys who pretty much created the Motown sound and kept it going for all those years. Look on practically any Motown song and the chances are you will find they wrote them. They are artists. They created these great songs out of nothing. That is the definition of artist. Creating something out of nothing. Diana Ross and the Temptations interpreted THEIR creation and probably did it with a LOT of direction from the producers and writers. From that point on, all they had to do was sing it as they had instructed them to sing it. That's not being an artist. That's being an entertainer.

Prince; Paul Simon; Elton John & Bernie Taupin; Billy Joel; Dan Fogelberg; Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young; Pink Floyd; John Lennon; Paul McCartney; Johnny Cash; Garth Brooks; Mozart; Beethoven; Joni Mitchell; Carole King - THESE are artists. You may not like some (or all) of their creations but they CREATED what they sang. They are artists. Beyonce, Brittney, Cher, Michael Buble, Frank Sinatra, Elvis (no death threats please), The Temptations, Diana Ross, Celine (why are there more girls than guys in this equation?). THEY are entertainers. Albeit great ones - but entertainers none the less.

Let's take Beyonce and Brittney for a second. They have it written into their contracts that they must have their names included as partial contributors to any new songs that are on their albums so they will get writing royalties. This is apparently a growing scheme with entertainers who don't write their own music. As a result of this the Academies have instituted a rule that if a song wins an award only the first two writers will receive that award. Hmmm?

Beyonce and Brittney are puppets. They sing what others have written for them. They sing it the way their producers tell them to sing it. They then have choreographers who tell them where to stand and how to stand. Where to dance and how to dance. They then have costumers who design their outfits for them. Why would they be considered artists??? They should be labeled mannequins.

Remember when you could buy an album for $4.99?? AND you only had to buy it once because you could record it onto as many tapes as you wanted to AND put it onto your computer and it never stopped you?? Now, you have to buy CD's and most of them these days are programmed to only allow you to record their contents once or twice (if you're lucky) then they won't record anymore.

Remember when they were changing the format from Albums/cassettes to CD's? I do. They marketed these new CD's as being virtually indestructible! Completely scratch resistant, heat resistant, unbreakable. Wow! That sounded so much better than my albums plus I didn't have to get up and turn the record over to hear the other side AND I could search and only play what I wanted to hear! AND they took up less space? I was pumped!

Then I started buying them (or I should say I was forced to buy them because they stopped making vinyl albums - didn't have a choice). Let me just say, I HATE, LOATHE, ABHOR CD'S! I have yet to buy a CD that I haven't had to throw out within 6 months and replace because they do indeed scratch, they do indeed break (rather easily) and they most certainly are NOT highly heat resistant. NOTE: If you buy your albums from Europe you can still get them in vinyl, they just cost more.

And those "covers"?? Open them more than once and they break apart! And when you have to throw the cover away and unlike albums that were clearly marked with its contents printed directly on the vinyl, you don't know what's on that CD without the cover - if you can read print that small!

People like me who loved vinyl albums (I own in excess of 300 of them) are very particular with them. I have them standing up on their sides (always so they won't warp) and in their original dust covers (both of them - for those of you who aren't vinyl lovers there are two dust covers per album) and I am extremely picky about who touches them and how. Everyone that I ever knew who collected albums were the same way. I have albums from the mid-1960's and not a scratch or warp on any of them. The sound quality might not be as good as CD's but I can record them onto my computer and clean up the sound quality and be just fine. AND I can do it as many times as I want.

So now I understand. Everyone involved in making vinyl were actually losing money because we only had to buy ONE of them ever!

Musicians whine constantly about the lack of sales (the lack of money) they are getting and how no one should be allowed to share music anymore. Because it belongs to THEM!! I truly feel that unless I am selling their music, once I buy the album/CD, I should be able to do with it as I please.

The radio stations are now all programmed. They buy entire blocks of music at a time. The companies they buy them from determine the content. That is why on the very extremely rare occasions that we hear a new song, we have to google part of the lyrics in order to find out who the hell it was so we can go out and buy the CD. The "DJ's" don't tell you anything about the song that just played or the one coming up. That is also why we hear the very same song 100 times a day (filler).

The DJ used to be our music education back in the day. He (or she) was the guy who introduced us to new acts and told us the behind the scenes stories about the artists and the making of that particular album. Sure there was a little bit of fluff during his shift but the majority of his shift was spent talking about the music he played and the artists who made it. Now, it's all about their kids, their religions, stupid phone calls and them advertising a restaurant or car lot with about 10 minutes an hour worth of repeated music thrown in for good behavior.

This is exactly why new bands have to pay to have their albums cut and they have to market them independently. The days when a band could throw a bunch of their albums into the trunk and visit each radio station passing them out and trying to get them played are gone.

Before I leave the subject of musicians, let me say that they wouldn't be struggling for album sales IF they allowed us to share their music. This is how, since the beginning of time, that they have received free marketing. Ever gone to a house party packing an album or tape filled with your favorite songs? Sure you have. Ever have anyone at that party ask you who that band was?? Sure you have. Ever recorded a mixed tape of your favorites and given it to someone as a gift? Of course. Did they ever ask you about any of the songs on that tape? Sure they did.

This is how I was introduced to my personal favorites. Dan Fogelberg (received a mixed tape with Wisteria on it and then went out and bought his Home Free album and every album he put out afterwards). Leon Russell (same thing). This was FREE marketing for these guys! It's as if they don't have confidence in their music.

If I hear a song that I love, I will buy the album to discover more music by this musician and if the rest of the album is good, I am hooked. I will buy every album that they put out from that point on (stinker and all). If a musician has confidence in their music, if they think their music will speak for itself, then what's the problem with allowing the songs to be shared? NOT sold, I completely understand that. But what's the harm in a DJ playing one of their songs in a club or at a party without paying them or them royalties? It is free marketing and when the DJ's have to pay to play a musician's music, they will simply go with the free ones.


Lord please! If I hear ONE more actor/actress calling themselves an artist, I think I will puke.

Did they invent their characters? I especially felt sick to my stomach that actors who portray real people get Academy awards. Ben Kingsley for Gandhi?? That was the year I stopped watching the awards shows. How hard is it to watch footage and mimic a real person? How hard is it to interview folks who knew him and read his writings and then mime the man? How about Joaquin Phoenix getting a nod for Johnny Cash and Reese Witherspoon winning for June Cash?? Dear God! Same thing!

Miming does not make you an artist. IT DOES NOT! Play acting does not make you an artist. I used to play dress up as a child. I used to pretend I was Diana Ross and my two neighbors were the Supremes and we would mime them in my carport on rainy days. We were damned good too! However, we weren't artists! We were playing dress up!

These people forget what their job is!! It is always so refreshing to hear any of them talk about their "art" as a job. Angelina Jolie (put the daggers back girls) is one of these. She doesn't call herself an artist. She plainly states that acting is what she does for her job and freely admits that she is paid outrageously for what she does. Everything else aside, I have a great amount of respect for her because of that.

Then you have Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins. Excuse me just a second while I get some Pepto.

These two people literally make me sick to my stomach. They have the attitude that they are so far above the rest of us. They are SO much smarter and aware than anyone else. They have this attitude that their opinions (on ANY subject) are so far above our comprehension that we should just bow to them and kiss their feet.

When did being an entertainer make you smarter than everyone else? When did being an entertainer make your opinions more important or thought out than mine? A short list of pukable entertainers that I lump in with Susan and Tim would be: Tom Cruise, Oprah (only because she is SO easily led by the nose by her "adviser of the month"), TINA FEY (GOD I hate her!) and last but certainly not least, Jane Fonda. Jane is fodder for a blog all to herself as she is the biggest puppet I have ever heard of and I doubt she has EVER had a single independent thought in her life. She is a lemming of the highest degree. Oprah is second only to Jane in that category.

There are a couple of entertainers who, although I usually disagree with their political views, appear to have put in the work to qualify their opinions and normally do not appear to hold themselves out to be the Gods and Goddesses of opinion (unlike Susan and Tim). These would be Sean Penn, Bruce Sprinsteen, George Clooney, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. These entertainers appear to do their homework, make up their own minds and act accordingly. They actively support their political views but don't shove them down anyone's throats or denounce those that don't agree with them as being stupid (unlike Susan and Tim).

To close this tirade, let me state this. If I buy a car from Ford, it's my car. If I choose to use it in a movie they don't get a royalty off of it. If I choose to turn it into a taxi - no royalties to Ford. If I choose to sell it, no royalties to Ford. I understand the difference between a car and "intellectual" property. However, I think it's crap for the most part. I think as long as I'm not making a profit off their music or movies, then as long as I pay for the CD or Video, it should be mine to do with as I please. If I want to copy it and give it to my best friend for Christmas, then that is my business because I OWN the CD.

Who knows that my friend isn't going to get hooked on the actor or musician and become their biggest fan buying all their future, CD's/movies and going to all their concerts/movies?

It is for certain that these "artists" are losing a lot of their fan base through their greed. We hear how they have sued to stop DJ's from spinning their records at clubs one day because of the $.99 royalty owed to them on that particular song and then the very next day we see a photo spread in People or Time magazine that shows their private jets and their multi-million dollar vacation homes in the Bahamas. And they're bitching about $19.99 for a CD/video??

I am sick to death of this. This is all about entertainment. Their greed is exactly why movie theaters are closing in record numbers. Why record stores are out of business and why radio stations are playing CRAP (over and over and over).

So I say, let's support the indies. Let's not buy CD's from the top dogs or go to movies made by the top dogs. The last movie I ever saw in an actual theatre was the Sixth Sense (long time ago). I paid $8 to see that movie and another $12 to get popcorn and a coke. I walked through the sticky residue of spilled coke and after squeezing past other customers to get to my seat had to watch the movie trying to hear it above the constant noise of the teenagers behind me. Now back in the day when I could have gotten all of the above for $5 or less, it wouldn't have mattered. But for $20 I want quiet and space and clean for my money.

I now watch movies once they have hit the small screen or I will get them on Netflix or Fancast and will watch them in the controlled environment of my home. I realize they will still get paid a small amount for my watching them on HBO or ABC or whatever BUT not nearly as much as if I watched it in a theater.

I will buy my vinyl albums from England or France and will pay the extra shipping to be able to have the vinyl and record it as many times as I please and I will NOT support the likes of Susan and Tim by contributing to their already massive fortunes. After all, why should they make money off stupid people like me?

But that's just me.

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