The Enemies of Rock

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  • Major Record Companies - They pulled a few beautiful anti-anti-trust deals with Clear Channel and their ilk and now control almost everything you hear on the godawful radio today. They forcefeed us steaming crap by the spoonfuls and then have the gall to blame you and your computer for slumping sales. Just as they sought to legally halt your ability to tape off the music you buy, they are now trying to legally halt your ability to copy off the music you buy, only this time, the government is on their side and they will do it. Now, the courts are allowing them to force IPs to provide personal private information to help prosecute KaZaA users. Buy used CDs and LPs and download (er, only legally, of course... ;) ) as much as you can and continue to starve these sleazebags of profits. Even if they release an decent album every year or two, these companies are enemies of music.

  • Michael Powell and the FCC - With a careless screw-the-listeners attitude, they relaxed decades-old rules and allowed two companies to buy up nearly every radio station in the United States. These moves allowed the record companies to gain nearly complete control of the airwaves, and those companies are a) whittling the variety of music on the radio down to a thin twig and b) shoving crap down your throats with no regards to listeners' requests or demand. Your local radio suck? Sure it does. Michael Powell with the FCC helped make it that way. And yes, Michael's predecessors were just as bad.

  • George W. Bush - There is not a single large industry he would not kill to help, and he will help push any bill through Congress helping the big boys and sticking it to YOU.

  • Rolling Stone and Spin magazines - Jann Wenner is one of the antichrists of rock, and Spin magazine never has and never will be cool. Both are in the pockets of the major labels and couldn't care less about quality rock music. Recently, a few Spin critics even admited their year-end best album list was carefully crafted to hook readers and didn't even reflect Spin's own writers' actual opinions. Pathetic. Neither magazine is worth wiping your butt with. (Still need a good rock magazine fix? Check out England's Uncut magazine, widely available in the US, and it covers film and books as well.)

  • MTV - Sad, but my, how times change. When MTV started, it helped to kick off New Wave, the last terrific singles era in rock music. Today, they hardly ever run music videos, and even their spin-off MTV2 is starting to head down that path. They stuck around just long enough to make sure plenty of 'sexy' plastic performers could carve careers while talented non-'sexy' performers suffered. Oh, and their Real World was the opening shot in the sad, sorry salvo of reality shows that fester on television today. (Of course, if people were smart enough not to watch the trash, it wouldn't stay on the air, but that's another rant altogether...). At least MTV2 has more variety of music than most radio stations have nowadays. Hey, its been known to play The Strokes, The White Stripes, Beck, and The Flaming Lips...

  • Cary Sherman and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) - New president, just as stupid as the old one.

  • More to Follow...
Author Comments: 

Yes, I am sick and cranky today. Still, am I not right?

Hey, my radio station plays The Strokes, The White Stripes, Beck, and The Flaming Lips! Perhaps there's hope. Of course, they aren't a ClearChannel station (yet). Your rant is right on, but I'm sorry to hear you're illin'.

Thanks for the concern. Maybe my computer should have a built-in thermometer to check my temperature and prohibit me from adding new lists to the site when I'm running a high fever. My, I do get cranky...

Cool your stations plays groovy tunes. Most corporate rock stations still churn out post-grunge and NIN knock-offs, even now, five years down the line, when those genres are largely running the hamster wheel, spinning the spokes and only kicking up dust.

I know I'm prejudiced as an Okie, but I love the Lips more and more every day. God bless 'em!

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

To be fair, I think they might be the only non-ClearChannel rock station in range. Nonetheless along with the good stuff they also throw an unhealthy amount of Staind et al into the mix. Gotta take the bad with the good, I guess.

In Tulsa, we have an NPR station out of the University of Tulsa I dig, but they only carry national programming and have no slots for local music shows. Amazing. A college campus I've no doubt is full of students who would jump at the chance to DJ a three-hour show of music, and they don't have any original music shows. A shame...

There is a college station from another town you can pick up in parts of the city, and at times, that station is quite groovy, but during the prime time hours, it is hard to distinguish them from the other rock stations in town.

That's cool about your station. I remember living in Amherst gave one several cool college stations to groove to (against the rules, I had several shows on each! :) ), and several other stations in the area was cool, but ah, that is Amherst, not Tulsa, and the times were the early 90s, not now.

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

Great post.
I've been banging this gong for a long time now. I know people who work in radio, for ClearChannels as a matter of fact, and they just shrug they're shoulders, as if to say, "What the Hell, I gotta work." Many of them come from the glory days of free-form album rock. It's a sad state of affairs.
Maybe satellite radio will someday allow the sort of narrowcasting that gives us all some stations we like.
What really sticks in my craw is the FCC aspect. Those licenses are public property, and as such the government has the responsibility to allocate them in a way that guarantees diversity and competition.

Thanks.

What has happened to radio (heck, almost all media) in America is a sad, sad shame. Even more sad is the fact that few seem to give a rip about the situation.

Glad to hear I'm not the only one troubled by this.

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

Here's an interesting NY Times article about the great American radio sell off and the limitations that puts on the music that gets played on radio today.

Sick.

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

I agree totally. If you want to do yourself a favor check out CMJ magazine. Not only do they review everything, it comes with a CD of about 22 songs so you can listen to these great groups you've never heard before. The day CMJ comes in my mail is my favorite day of the month. The last 15 CDs I've bought are bands I've heard on their CDs.

You might want to check out www.milesofmusic.com if you like alt/country music. Lots of great bands samples of songs from every album.

Jokow11

Yeah, CMJ is worth reading; its scope is a bit narrower than Uncut's, and the reviews are still a bit too cheerleaderish for my taste, but they do cover some great music, and they do have a cool sampler CD. Good stuff; I first read about Pavement back in 91 in CMJ's pages, and that's enough to make me dig it. College Music Journal was even wilder back then...

I forgot to mention that Uncut has a sampler CD each month. The latest issue's disc included 78+ minutes of music from the Flaming Lips, Tom Waits, David Bowie, Paul Westerberg, Warren Zevon, Ryan Adams, Robert Plant, Lambchop, Wilco, The Streets, Jeff Buckley, and more - 18 tracks in all.

I love sampler CDs!

Thanks for the tip on the website. Oddly enough, somebody mentioned that same site to me yesterday. I'll certainly check it out!

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

You just about had me sold on Uncut Magazine until I checked out the price! Is Amazon's price high?

I buy Uncut from either Borders or Barnes and Noble each month. The issues arrive around one to two months late, but the cover price is around seven or eight bucks, which ain't bad when you consider the magazine's thickness (the current issue is 170 pages!) and the free 75+ minute cds. I've thought of subscribing, but the rates everywhere for the magazine are insane. Somebody must think that getting each issue hot off the press is worth an extra five bucks a month or so, which, with my budget, it ain't.

So, I'd advise checking for a store that carries a copy. Sadly, I've yet to see a decent subscription rate for the magazine.

If you find one, let me know.

:(

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

From hearings held by the Senate Commerce Committee, Thursday, 1/30/03:

"We must preserve radio as a medium for democracy," said
Wisconsin Democratic Sen. Russell Feingold, who has introduced a
bill that would prevent Clear Channel from expanding further and
curb its alleged anti-competitive practices.

But Montana Sen. Conrad Burns, a former broadcaster, and several other Republican
senators said the company was simply practicing sound business and helping turn around
an industry that was largely unprofitable 10 years ago.

What a crock! Radio was never unprofitable. Was it less profitable for those limited in the number of broadcast licenses they could hold? Absolutely. But never unprofitable. Burns is a liar.

Very interesting quotes. Thanks.

Sound business practices. Hmmmm. A monopoly is usually a sound business practice for a company. It just sucks for consumers, which is why we supposedly have laws against most forms of monopoly.

With radio, however, this really chaps my hide. Radio licenses are awarded with the stipulation that companies will use them in the service of the public. In other words, legally, having a radio station is supposedly a privilege, not a right, just like a driver's license. The FCC by law is charged with seeing that the public's interest is served by companies who are granted these licenses. The reality, however, is that the FCC has ignored this rule; they do not regulate this industry closer than normal industries. In fact, they have allowed competition to be bought out more than is legally allowed in most normal, non-regulated industries. They have failed, and the FCC should be radically reformed, starting with kicking Michael Powell's ass out the door, regardless of who his father (Colin) is.

As I said, it really irks me, both as a former radio DJ who barely caught the end of the golden years and as a radio listener, although my declining listening may mean I don't really qualify in that last category any more.

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

What? Not serving the public interest? Haven't you listened to your local ClearChannel station on Sunday at 6AM when they air some lame public affairs show? That's what passes for serving the public interest these days.

:)

Sorta like the twenty thousands ads on televisoin you see from the Ad Council.

Between the hours of two and three A.M....

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

Yes and no. Many of those are there because no one will buy the time. All those spots are not as impressive when you add up their cash value, which when compared to the value of time in the other dayparts, is negligible.
Back in the old days, TV started putting news on the air to serve the public interest. Little did they realize that in 2003 it would be a cash cow, especially on the local level.

Starting today, I am boycotting any new product from companies part of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). I'll be buying my music from used music shops and sites such as half.com. The lawsuits against customers will continue until they see how stupid they are, and I'll do what I can to help that fact dawn upon them.

Really... They bribe Congress to continue extending copyrights and then expect us to seriously respect them. They get the law changed so that they practically dictate what radio plays, and then they want you to respect their new law as they try to sue any alternate way of hearing music out of existence. I have no sympathy. A boycott is brewing, and I'm advocating it.

They will treat you like a criminal until you force them to realize you are a customer, and a very ticked off one at that.

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

Well, since they are now suing 12 year olds, here's a list of companies that make up the RIAA, just in case *you* are curious...

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

I've come to the point where I don't think these suits actually have a legal leg to stand on and are just Gestapo tactics. Their copyright defense is full of holes and to be honest, copyright law in general could use a much-needed update in deference to the technology of the day. I think I will start downloading more and hope they come sue me. I think I will countersue for price gouging, collusion, substandard manufacturing, payola, false advertising, violations of the 1st Amendment, etal. I'm sure I could think of at least 10 more! I think this issue needs be brought to a loud, ugly, tawdry conclusion in the Supreme Court. Maybe when more and more of the public are made aware of how their rights are being violated; they will produce the kind of uproar necessary to make some changes. The Squeaky Wheel, my friend, The Squeaky wheel.

I just discovered that I have to participate in a debate on Thursday about whether Internet file-sharing should be legal. Only problem is, I'm on the negative side. Ugh...

At least 99.9% of my high school would agree with me. Come on, we're teenagers. We need our music. Not only that, but my school is extremely liberal.

Should be interesting! So you feel Internet file-sharing should be legal in what form? Any song should be legally distributable (and downloadable) by anybody that gets their hand on a copy? Or something short of that? Are you advocating completely scrapping copyright law in its entirety, or just as it applies to music?

I know you'll be forced to argue the other side in your debate, but I'm more curious to hear what you really believe.

I am also interested in hearing your thoughts!

For the record, I am still in favor of copyright in general (although the continuous extensions companies buy from Congress are corrupt as all get out). I do not have much sympathy for the companies, however, that have been guilty of price fixing, creating a clever yet horrible system of payola to control the playlists of nearly every radio station in the nation, and buying off Congress and the FCC (have you seen the legal fees they purchased from Congress for file trading? They are suing for up to $150,000 per song !). It is hard for anybody to respect bought laws, especially when they are this stupid. It is also obvious that the companies are blaming their failures on file swapping and not their own horrid running of affairs. As for ignoring the digital age and then suing your customer base, that may be legal, but it is also plain dumb. When you are suing a customer who is 12 years old and living in a tenement, it is also really bad PR.

Boycotting is perfectly legal also... :)

So, what do you think?

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

Well, lbangs, I'm pretty much in your same boat. I agree that the record companies are just using Kazaa as a scapegoat. As a great man once said, "Music has moved far away from considering Albums an art form. Got churn out a couple of hits and the rest of the album can be fodder to justify the cost. And the record Industry wonders why file sharing is phenomenon." And that's true. The record companies are so concerned with just making money off of individual hits, but there's not much market for singles. I rarely see singles being sold in a music store, or if I do, there are far more albums than singles. People won't buy an entire album, especially at the companies' high prices, just for a couple big hits. What do you expect them to do? Maybe if the major record companies put out better albums, and lowered their prices...

Not to mention, there's so much gray area in the issue of copyrights also. Is it illegal for me to tape a song off the radio? If not, is it illegal for me to make copies of the tape and give it to friends? If not, is it illegal for me to convert the tape to an mp3 and share it on the Internet?

I realize there has to be some sort of copyright laws for a country to function properly. But the copyright laws that we're using need a major revision. I suspect that, with the subpoenas, the RIAA is just trying to scare us into deleting our music files. If they're actually attempting to sue file-sharing out of existence, it's not going to work. They shut down Napster and the people found Kazaa. They shut down Kazaa and the people will find something else.

Well, grab an oar, because I think we may well be sharing a vessel here!

Thanks! Let's hope we'll be hearing great news from that great man soon!

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

To no one in particular, but on the same subject... I can't help but notice that quite a few people are forgetting to mention the singer/songwriter/musician when discussing the RIAA and file sharing conflict. Until a singer/songwriter/musician can negotiate a contract that takes into effect the potential loss of profit to themselves from uncontrolled file sharing, I've got to stick with keeping as much money in their pockets as possible. And believe me when I say how distasteful it is to know that other than attending their concerts, I can't help them without helping their marketers.

I can certainly understand that. I guess if I was convinced that file sharing actually does hurt most artists, I would feel more as you do. I think the singles and filler (con?) artists are the ones hit hard, while many good artists, especially those outside the RIAA maintained radio formats, have gained from file sharing.

The file sharing bust-up is partly an attempt to blame those wild college kids for shrinking profits and partly a grab at control. If artists can be heard without having to kiss the butt of a member of RIAA (ie, a major record company, the folks who pretty much control what you hear on the radio), then RIAA members lose bargaining power, power they use to twist artists into signing silly contract that benefit, yup, the majors.

At least, that's my view from here. I know many (though no doubt, not all) artists who agree...

Thanks for the comments!

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

Are you (or anyone else reading this) aware of any independent studies being done on this file-sharing issue? I can't find a thing that isn't directly attached to the interests of one or the other.

Nope. With a little digging, I discovered that every 'independent' study I've seen so far is fairly intimately connected to one side of the debate or the other.

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

Good news. When we picked topics for the debate, I was able to secure a topic that has nothing to do with endorsing the RIAA. I'm talking about how teens have easy access to pornography on the file-sharing networks, and also branching off to talk about child pornography. Well, I mean, it's bad news that that is going on, but it's good news that at least I'm arguing about something that I partially agree with. i.e., I don't think it's really a reason to shut down Kazaa, but it's a better reason than a few record executives will have to settle for the silver-plated toothbrush instead of the gold-plated one.

Well, my team lost the debate, but at least the side that was right won.

No shame in losing the battle if it helps win the war. Or something like that...

Really, though, you were working against something of a stacked deck, yes?

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

As far as magazines go, how is Mojo?

My experience with Mojo is that it's yr typical Brit rock mag; it's a cut (or three) above American print, it embraces a fuller range of styles, but generally sticks to major label work and often stoops to fanboy-type worship. I'm not just talking about the hype factor (itself overhyped), but the fawning meta interviews and overall chummy tone.

But they did put together a fantastic list of the Stones' 40 greatest songs, with comments from a large pool of musicians and authors.

For my money, I'd research the Wire. Seems like one of the best combinations of big-mag resources and small-'zine focus.

Mojo is sorta the English Rolling Stone; it is good, but be aware that it is certainly aimed at older, slightly less adventurous readers. This, of course, has its merits and its place. It certainly is closer to Uncut than it is to American muck. Pretty good stuff.

Enjoy!

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

I didn't watch the Super Bowl, so I didn't see Janet's little moment of 'controversy' (which was at least a bit more shocking than that pathetic, wouldn't-shock-you-grandmother Madonna and gals kiss), but I confess, whatever gets that clueless idiot Michael Powell worked up into a frothing fool gets my thumbs-up any day.

What a doofus. There is no way that man should be running a restroom, much less the FCC.

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

Whoa, whoa, whoa! Don't you insult Michael Powell! That guy is absolutely right. I watched the half-time show, and the sight of Janet Jackson's breast drove me to insanity. I ran to the kitchen and ate all the powdered sugar in the house, after which I shrivelled up on the floor muttering, "Janet Jackson's breast" in a monotone for four hours before I passed out. It's a miracle that I was able to get to school this morning. Thank God the FCC is righting these unspeakable wrongs!

I was barely able to get to work this morning, but I have no such good excuse... ;)

The bared breast wasn't even bare, was it? This is how much more offensive that all those Victoria's Secret specials?

Although, in a way, I can certainly see how that sight could be traumatic...

This should really help Michael's defense...

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

No, Janet was wearing a nipple pastie thing. Which pretty much refutes the claim that the exposure was unintentional, but still, that incident shoved the stick way too far up Michael Powell's butt. Jeez, when people can see a bare breast covered up by a pastie on TELEVISION, for God's sake, what will come of the American family life? Fire! Brimstone! Apocalypse! And worst of all, single-parent households!

:)

Yeah, I find those claims of accident to be rather unconvincing. Janet wears one of those full-time? (Well, on the other hand, she is a Jackson...)

Besides, I remember an MTV news release promising a 'shocking' half-time special. What else could that have been about?

Maybe I don't want to know...

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

I suspect the nipple pasty things are used all the time just in case the glue or material fails. Perhaps Ms. Jackson just ordered too large a bag of silicone ;) Lil Kim was the one to really push the envelope on the MTV Awards a few years ago with that beautiful paint job. You remember... the one that Diana Ross couldn't help but reach across the podium for? I think we better change topics.

It wasn't a pastie. Her nipple was pierced with a solar medallion. As far as whether it was intentional or not I think Justin ripping her clothes was intentional. The amount of exposure might have been unintentional.

did you see boondocks today?

I have now! Thanks!

I certainly hope he doesn't let the door hit him on the way out. Let's hope somebody worse doesn't take his place...

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

I'd like to see Howard Stern apply for the position.

Yep, the music industry is corrupt and the real enemy of rock, but without it Elvis Costello never would have written "Radio, Radio", so in the end it's kind of a wash

But... it is a sound salvation!

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs