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Music Business? Or Entertainment Business?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by MacheteJames, Mar 30, 2004.

  1. I want to relate to everyone some stories that I've heard recently. All of these involve people working at various levels of the music business.

    1) My best friend's sister is a singer in a 4 piece R&B pop group, based out of Boston, MA. They're kind of like Destiny's Child or Dream, that type of group. They're on the verge of a major label deal.

    The group and their management recently went to Florida for an annual dance music conference. Lots of industry big-shots were there, including P Diddy. Now before I say what I'm about to say, I want to mention the fact that the 4 members of the group are all girls in their early twenties. All of them are in great physical shape and are very attractive.

    The group and management were at one of those industry "schmooze" parties, where everyone sips martinis, name drops, etc.. There was this entertainment lawyer there, a well known guy in the business supposedly. This man took the group's manager aside and told him flat out "You need to get rid of one of the group members.. she's too overweight".
    It so happened that the member he was referring to was my friend's sister, who is about 130lbs soaking wet.

    This guy had a lot of nerve saying that, but from talking to her and some others, this type of attitude is commonplace.

    2) Another friend of mine went to see a fairly well known (in Boston, anyways) local band. This band was able to draw tons of people and had a residency at The Rack, one of the prime spots in the Boston scene. As he watches them, he notices that something isn't quite right... the bassist is pounding roots, yet a funky bassline is coming out of his amp and the PA. They sound a little too clean and polished.

    It turns out that this band uses sequencers... they are in effect a live karaoke act. What I didn't know was that this kind of thing is somewhat commonplace.

    In both cases above, the question I ask is this: what comes first, the music, or entertainment? My friend's sister is a very capable songwriter and vocalist, yet this guy wanted her gone because she isn't emaciated enough. In the other case, the band is basically deceiving the audience, who are there for a live band.

    When we go out and gig, are we musicians, or are we entertainers? Is the music business even about music at all? Perhaps I sound naive here, but I want to stimulate some debate and here what everyone else here has to say. Does anyone have any horror stories that they'd like to share?
  2. I'd say it depends on which artist(s) we're talking about, and which genres.

    For example: I love Jane Monheit. http://www.jazzsingers.com/JaneMonheit

    Jane sings in the style of the great jazz divas of the past: Peggy Lee, Ella Fitzgerald. When she sings, that's primarily what she does - she sings.
    She stands there and sings. Her voice is her main asset, and it can captivate you by itself.

    I could not say the same where Britney Spears, or Christina Aguilera are concerned.

    I feel that if Britney and Christina could not jump around on stage, and appear scantily clad, they would have perhaps a quarter of their popularity, perhaps not even that.

    Jane is not in the same category as Britney or Christina, so I shouldn't even compare them, but I think you know what I mean. Although Jane is only 26 years of age, I'd say her main audience is 35+. I'd guess the average age of the audiences of Britney and Christina are half of that.

    I'd also wager that Jane's yearly earnings are meager compared with the two slightly younger gals, but I also feel that Jane will be around long after the others are no longer near the top of the pop charts.

    As for your friend's sister, if the person(s) that are potentially going to bankroll this group feel she's a "little chunky," bet that they'll show her the door before a contract is signed. Not fair I know, but who ever said life is fair?

    The Music business does lie within the Entertainment business, but the evening news is beginning to fall under the Entertainment category as well, IMHO.

    Entertainment: The term is subjective.

    Mike ;)
  3. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    Well, the music business is in the business of entertaining.

    And I agree 100% that it all depends on the genre and artist/group in question.

    I have a friend who is a guitarist. He hates to go watch bands that are, in his words, "boring". They could be the greatest musicians in the world and if they didn't jump around and "entertain" he would not like them. His favorite group is KISS, go figure.

    I, however, would rather see a tight blues/jazz group that did nothing but play their instruments and/or sing. I find that entertainment. I find groups like KISS and bands where they are jumping around to be boring and they do not entertain me in the least.

    The music industry is all about money, when it is on a major nationwide level. On that level it is more about the visual. Like I asked my friend, "Since when is music a visual medium?"

    On a local or regional level I think it is more about the music, generally, though there are always exceptions. Perhaps that's why I tend to go to clubs and not major concert venues. I like the more intimate nature of clubs that have talented bands that play great music. I abhor big concerts, especially with the likes of teeny bopper Britney and the like.
  4. Thor

    Thor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    This is totally skewed, as you know.

    You are asking a group of musicians how
    they feel about the strictly commercial side
    of the music business.

    Your friend will probably get booted. Too bad,
    she's probably nice. maybe the lawyer hit on
    her and she turned him down.
    Too bad. It's just like Hollywood out there, Sleaze.

    Reminds me of many years ago a smarmy guy
    wanted to manage our band. After 15 minutes
    of lies I gave up and said, 'lose my number'.
    You ask yourself the question, given
    all this, do I want to be in the business?

    I know The Rack, have had a few in there from time
    to time. You think the chicks there could tell
    the difference between a tape loop and their panty
    hose? You think the guy playing root was
    embarrassed by the fact that he was a hack?

    I'm a musician, I wouldn't be caught dead
    sampling, looping, or faking my bass playing.
    I am always proud of the effort I have put
    in to get to where I am musically. I am also
    often disgusted by what non-musicians consider
    tasteful or even techically proficient when it comes
    to music.

    This ad sound familiar? ' Bass player needed, must sing,
    have great looks and hair, serious only ...'

    The guy they are looking for sure ain't Stanley Clarke.

    I feel the music business fell out of orbit a while ago,
    and is spiralling earthward in search of LCD - the
    Lowest Common Denominator that will sell
    CD trash. Many people on this board have noted
    that rarely do CD's come out with more than
    one or 2 good cuts, and that the industry is
    providing poor value to the consumer and to the music
    buying public.

    I'm going back in my hole now, you got me all
    riled up. Don't even start on the trash news ...
  5. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
  6. The popular genres of music, pop and rock etc generally need to offer something both musically and visually. They are what I would call music entertainment, and both the music and image need to be marketable in order to make with a big label.

    When I go see a live band, I am looking to be entertained. Great musicians will be entertaining standing still, but for the vast majority of bands out there with good songs (but not spectacular) they'll make a name for themselves on an energetic live show. If you can play good/great music while jumping around on stage and really getting into the music, that's a far superior show than one where the musicians are all standing there shoegazing IMO.
  7. Thor

    Thor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Having had the pleasure of having seen Mahavishnu Orchestra
    3 different times live, and in contrast with the Stones, I cannot possibly agree with that.

    With all due respect to your need to be entertained
    visually, when I go out, I go to listen to music, and I
    am usually more stimulated by a well focused, tonally
    dynamic and technically proficient piece, than I am by the
    vibrations of the bass player's Nikes on stage. :D

    And I don't yell Freebird, either ...
  8. hieronymous


    Nov 28, 2002
    Northern CA
    One of my favorite recent news stories concerns Britney Spears and lip-synching.

    Apparently, some people set up an email petition asking Britney not to lip-synch on her up-coming tour. But then another petition was set up BEGGING her to KEEP LIP-SYNCHING!!! (I don't remember the details unfortunately, and NYTimes.com charges for old articles) The gist was that most Britney fans prefer a "good-show" to vocal authenticity... :eek:

    not that I'm suprised - no, actually I was suprised that people would actually go that far in actually WANTING someone to lip-synch.

    In other Britney news, Us Magazine reported that in a clothing store a young man went up to Britney and told her she looked like someone famous. Britney rolled her eyes, and then the young guy said, "yeah, Jessica Simpson!"
  9. RicPlaya


    Apr 22, 2003
    The Mitten
    Well it just goes to show the state of the unmusic industry. Baby Spice...how much does she weigh? She was more than a little chunky. If you friend is a buck 30 then if it's that big of a deal then she know what she has to do, in 4-8 weeks with the right regiment she will weigh 120 and have that anorexic look that is so popular in order to get a record deal, fair no but she will be paid if they play thier cards right. Sequences... I hate them! It's cheating and the music don't beathe. What ever happened to the music. It's all matter of opinion, but I think the music should come first, followed by a strong performance to enhance the live show. There are bands in my area that use sequeces and click tracks. It sterlizes the music, takes the live vibe away.
  10. Wow. Alot to deal with. Guess I'll go bottom up.

    When you go out to gig, you're ALWAYS entertainment. Never forget that. The level of musicality depends on the situation (are you playing serious jazz or blues, a wedding, pop singer, or doing pit band stuff in a theatrical prod. sp?) But you better have your chops together when you need them.

    Many of us hate to admit this, especially the artists among us..Any business is about the top AND bottom line, whatever the product. I think there used to be more of a separation between music and "the business of music". In many cases to the detriment of the artist/musician/performer.

    I'm originally from Boston, but have been in LA more years than I'd like to admit. I first noticed behind the scenes sampling and sequencing of backing vocals and instruments back in the 80's. I was shocked and appalled then. I guess it just got worse.

    Finally, I think your friend's days with her group may be numbered. VERY commonplace. VERY unfair. Come to LA to see this done with a frightening matter-of-fact flair!
    (Seen American Idol lately?)

    I used to play a few years back with a great pop band with 2 female vocalists. One was far superior to the other, but the other was the reason we continued to get this particularly nice paying gig (guess what, the bar owner loved to flirt with her..)

    I now play in several different situations. I have to admit that most people can't tell the difference between guitar and bass, let alone tell if we played any song without mistakes. However, when that one person comes up to me between sets to tell me how good we did a particular tune, or actually recognized that I quoted something in a song...makes my night.

    Blah, blah. Easy to get cynical. There are still lots of people around who appreciate the music. My goal is to be the guy who gets the calls, and hopefully enough of them to choose the best musical gig.

    /puts on hat,wig, makeup, picks up bass and goes to gig/
  11. canopener


    Sep 15, 2003
    Isle of Lucy
    How about this: musicians work in the entertainment business?

    Music, art, sports, movies all provide entertainment, just on different levels for different interests.

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