Your Take: Who Cares?

Karlie Justus Marlowe | January 23rd, 2010

On Monday’s News Roundup, Brody included a link to a two-part CMT Insider interview with Toby Keith, who recently signed Trace Adkins to his new label Show Dog Records.

In the second installment of the interview, host Katie Cook asks Keith about Keith Urban’s recent acceptance speech at the People’s Choice Awards:

Speaking of award shows, at the People’s Choice Awards, Keith Urban said something controversial during his acceptance speech: “I don’t even care if you guys download my music illegally. I really don’t care. …” You’re a head of a label. How does that strike you?

Maybe he don’t care. I care. But it’s his call. You have to be able to protect your copyright. The people you do have to protect in copyrights are the songwriters. So, you come to this town and you write. For 20 years, you work at Spaghetti Warehouse and you bus tables, and all of the sudden you’re 38 years old, and you’ve been here 18 years, and all the sudden you write a song and Keith Urban goes and records it. And it’s a smash. You get paid on that. If everybody downloads it for free, you don’t get paid on that. So all you become is unpaid. You’ve offered a treasure, a piece of history to the public and they’re using it to fill their dancehalls and fill their dance floors and listen to the music in their car. Put it on their iPods and all that. And if it is all for free, this guy is still at Spaghetti Warehouse. He gets nothing for it. Keith Urban gets paid. The guy at the bar that plays his music to pack the dance floor gets paid. So artists get paid because they go work and sell the T-shirts, but that songwriter won’t get paid. That’s the guy you have to protect.

Do you agree with Urban or Keith? Should artists only be concerned with reaching as many people as possible with their music? Are illegal downloads only of concerns to record labels, music executives and songwriters?

  1. MJ
    January 23, 2010 at 8:42 am

    I agree with the need to support our songwriters, but to be honest, I would have more time for the major labels if they showed any ounce of consideration for the artists they dump after one hit album. These guys get signed at the sniff of a fast buck, but when the follow up record flops, the label can’t wait to drop them and find the next young one album moneymaker. If Toby can sign new artists and support them through thick and thin, I’ll back his case.

  2. 1953
    January 23, 2010 at 9:14 am

    it is hard to feel sorry for anyone in the music business. the ride to stardom seems better than trying to stay on top by putting out mundane rehash. the houses, the islands, the private planes. if singers feel the songwriters don’t get their fair portion, share. but some kid downloading a song he heard on the radio or at a club is not the problem.

  3. Trailer
    January 23, 2010 at 9:26 am

    My respect for Toby just went up about 3 notches.

  4. 1953
    January 23, 2010 at 9:31 am

    i would like to add the person that takes the time to find an artist’s song to download is the same one that pays $50.00 or more for a ticket to a concert. the raids on little clubs in South Dakota and the confiscation of personal computers for litigation is disgusting to me.

  5. Ben Milam
    January 23, 2010 at 9:47 am

    i bet if keith urban was playing for $50 a night he’d care.

  6. Dan Milliken
    January 23, 2010 at 10:09 am

    For where we are now, I’m with Toby, because he’s right about the loss of mechanical royalties for songwriters (and others). Urban’s idea would only work for everyone if he wrote all of his own material alone and gave his label a big cut of the touring profits.

    But I’m also in the camp that says the industry’s only real hope of recovering from the piracy threat is to create a system that’s easier and more appealing than illegal downloading (which is time-consuming and still often brings viruses, bad files and the like). We’re simply not going to get anywhere by trying to continually prove to consumers how wrong illegal downloading is. Trying to convince everyone to go back to an ever-obscuring business model (and one which was often too costly to consumers) is a waste of time.

  7. Jon
    January 23, 2010 at 10:11 am

    Toby Keith is right on the money on this.

  8. stormy
    January 23, 2010 at 10:20 am

    I expect to get paid for my work, so I try to do the same for others.

  9. Steve M.
    January 23, 2010 at 11:20 am

    As a published author, I too expect to get paid for my work. However, lets not forget that most of the music industries woes are self inflicted.The industry has been resistant to new technology. Don’t forget how in the early 1990s, they tried to block the sales of used CD’s, ignoring the fact used books had been sold since the dawn of time. While the original Napster was out right theft, the industry floundered for a legal alternative. Even after the emergence of ITunes, they resisted Apple’s price structure. They want to charge CD prices for digital downloads, ignoring the fact that your costs go down with no physical product to ship and merchandise. I don’t blame Toy Keith for want to protect his intellectual property, but if you want to save it, you better come up with more creative ways to distribute it.

  10. stormy
    January 23, 2010 at 11:48 am

    Steve: But lets not also forget that the singers and songwriters had little, if no, say in any of that.

  11. Steve M.
    January 23, 2010 at 11:55 am

    I agree Stormy, that the songwriters especially get the shaft. But the industry as a whole needs fixing, and I have severe doubts whether the corporate suits can do it. Unless they think suing the odd college student here and there will put the genie back into the bottle.

  12. Matt B.
    January 23, 2010 at 12:03 pm

    The way songwriters and their publishing companies can counteract the lost revenue from physical product sales is in exactly what they’re doing now, license music out to commercials, TV, film, etc. Sure, labels are trying this too but even if Toby Keith’s “My List” were used in a commercial, the songwriters would still get their royalties from that.

  13. 1953
    January 23, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    it hasn’t been that long ago that Toby Keith was jetting off to support our global warming President (do you think they jet pooled?). wouldn’t downloading greatly reduce Mr. Keith’s carbon footprint? even if a few songs here are there were lost, wouldn’t it be worth it for the greater good? or is all that talk just for us huddled masses? i can’t help but hope that Mr. Keith got locked out for about 10 minutes this winter and felt a little “global warming”.

  14. stormy
    January 23, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    1953: I download all of my music these days, but I still pay for it.

  15. Jon
    January 23, 2010 at 1:04 pm

    Anyone who thinks that illegal downloading affects only the evil major labels and not the noble indies – and even self-releasing artists – needs to think again. They’re all vulnerable.

    But it is indeed the songwriters who get hurt the worst, and while Matt B. Has a point, the sync licensing market is a whole lot smaller than the mass market – and arguably even more subject to corporate control.

  16. 1953
    January 23, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    as do i. i love the convenience and the more frugal way of buying music. but don’t you remember the long card board envelopes that CDs used to come in? and some still come in the clear plastic that is hard to open instead of the more simple cardboard. and all the while, we were being preached to about the environment by people in the entertainment industry.

    but i digress. my real point is, the only songwriter i think Toby Keith cares about is Toby Keith. it’s his bottom line that he is talking about. shame.

    when a musician takes his eye off the music, when a doctor’s main focus is not the patient, when a teacher does not care about the student, the joy goes out of their profession. the money is just a nice aside.

    many are at their best when a little hungry. this fat cat’s belch has turned me off.

  17. Phil
    January 23, 2010 at 1:53 pm

    As I’ve said before…Art is only worth what a person is willing to pay for it. And that includes music. It isn’t even about illegal downloading and file sharing if you ask me. It’s about the quality of the product the Industry is dishing out to the masses, and calling art. Believe me, I will pay whatever the asking price is for music and the artists that I like…I wouldn’t even download the stuff for free that the Industry is producing today (and I don’t)…which is probably why my music collection has remained pretty much the same for the past 10 years.

    But let’s not forget that those same people who do download music for free and do file share, are the same people who are probably the Music Industry’s biggest and best customers, and also spend more money on music than the average person out there.

    The solution to the problem for the Music Industry is simple if you ask me. Stop trying to create Artists to fill and play a certain role and let the artists create themselves. Cultivate talent using a Bottom-Up approach rather than a Top-Down approach like they are using now. They are too busy looking for the next “overnight sensation” that will sell millions, and the music that comes from that is easily disposable so they can create more of it. As a result, the music and artists today are no longer defining a generation through their art…only the personality and image that comes from it is. And that isn’t worth a penny in my book. Which is why today’s music and artists are not timeless and will be forgotten.

    The best thing for the Industry right now would be to break up these huge corporations that are running everything right now (and that includes radio and the labels and even concert promotions). The Industry is basically just one big monopoly too focused on quarterly earnings and profits. I’m sorry…money may follow a quarterly schedule, but music and art does not. They need to give the listening public more variety to choose from…and market their product to a wider audience of listener. They need to focus on quality and not quantity…and then they will see massive gains in sales as a result.

    In a nutshell…today’s music and artists may make for some great TV…but the end product that comes from that source is only as good as the source it came from to begin with.

    And as long as personality and image (and money) are defining the music, rather than the music is defining the personality and image (and money) it will be this way.

  18. K
    January 23, 2010 at 2:09 pm

    A comment like this always seems to be a double-edged blade to the public. If Keith says he “doesn’t care” if you download his music for free, the public is happy, but then the songwriters and owners of the music are angry.

    But if an artist is firmly against illegal downloading and does everything in his or her power to prevent it including filing lawsuits and such, then consumers will make a big deal about it, and say the artist is greedy and wants every penny possible.

    I think Keith’s comments were truly in the heat of moment, but I don’t think he meant for it to come off like it did to the music industry. Keith is a very passionate performer, and his energy and love for what he does pours out of everything he does an artist. I think he meant that he wants others to be able to experience that same love with him; if they can’t afford it, who cares? Get the music anyway you can, as long as you can experience that same joy of the music.

    At the same time though, Keith and Nicole are both multi-millionares and Keith could afford for people to download his music free for the rest of his life. When money is no object to an exteremely successful artist like him, of course he isn’t going to care.

    For songwriters, publishers, and millions of struggling artists, it’s an entirely different story.

  19. 1953
    January 23, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    have you seen the people and clubs the labels are hauling into court? they hardly seem like a threat to anyone’s fortune. the real problem with piracy is in China. and the labels are not going to pour millions into attorney’s fees when the Chinese government couldn’t care less about this issue.

    so to the point, i think Keith Urban has it right. music, beautiful, etheral, deep beating, joyous, sad, silly music is his profession. he is focused on what he has gained not what he has lost.

  20. Phil
    January 23, 2010 at 2:19 pm

    K Said: For songwriters, publishers, and millions of struggling artists, it’s an entirely different story.

    Which is probably why I chose to stay out of that profession to begin with. But if one loves what they do, it shouldn’t be about the money to begin with. I have never received or asked for a dime for anything I’ve ever written…and I still enjoy writing for the simple pleasure it gives me.

  21. Jon
    January 23, 2010 at 2:24 pm

    my real point is, the only songwriter i think Toby Keith cares about is Toby Keith. it’s his bottom line that he is talking about. shame.

    Actually, as a touring artist, Toby Keith, who writes much of his own material, has more reason to not care about a loss of mechanical royalties than many other songwriters.

  22. Nicolas
    January 23, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    I always pay to download songs off Amazon, at times when I’m not buying the entire CD from Target

  23. idlewildsouth
    January 23, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    Perhaps the system could be tweaked to be a little more convenient, but just because we don’t like the way we currently have to go about getting music legally, doesn’t make it ok to get it illegally. Songwriters have every right to want to get paid their royalties, and shame on any one that calls themselves a fan of music that would make a habit of illegally downloading just to save ten dollars. Yes, sometimes cd’s can be more expensive than I would like for them to be, but we’ll go pay ten dollars for a movie, and that’s over in a few hours. Why are we fighting so hard against paying that much, or maybe just a little more, for something that we can have to experience for years to come?

  24. Phil
    January 23, 2010 at 3:19 pm

    Sometimes I wonder if people are even looking at the big picture? I basically just laid out what the real problem was and people are still sitting there talking about illegal downloads as being the problem. Until the Industry figures out that they are looking for a solution to a problem in the wrong place to begin with, I guess their real problems will never go away. And that includes the songwriters and the publishers as well.

    It isn’t about downloading an album just to save $10…it’s about making that album worth $10 to begin with.

  25. stormy
    January 23, 2010 at 3:23 pm

    Phil: Not being about the money is great IN THEORY. But even songwriters gotta eat. And country songwriters also have to afford booze and all of those heartless women and no-good men who provide them inspiration to be great songwriters.

  26. idlewildsouth
    January 23, 2010 at 3:35 pm

    But if it’s not worth ten dollars, to you, or if the single isn’t worth the .99/1.39 or whatever it may be, then it’s not worth having. My friends are going to a circus tonight. It might would be fun for me, but I don’t think it’d be worth the price of admission, so I’m not going. I’m not sneaking in and watching it anyway, I’m just not going, because if I’m not willing to pay for something, I shouldn’t expect to be able to enjoy it. The argument I so often hear is “well, I download because it’s not of the desired quality.” Well, if it’s not worth paying for, it’s not worth having.

    I agree that I would be more apt to buy more music if I could count on the quality being of a higher standard. And yes, the industry should explore other options to please the market, but that doesn’t make it ok to acquire music illegally in the meantime, and that Phil, is the question at hand.

    As an aside, in response to your comment about how if they love it, it shouldn’t be about the money. I love writing songs more than I love anything else in the world, and will do it no matter if I ever achieve any substantial success or not. However, that part of it is for my own enjoyment. It’s cathartic, it’s therapeutic, it’s just down right exciting. Where it becomes about money is when someone else decides they want to enjoy what I have done. Each song I write takes time to complete. After its creation, it takes time and money to get that song recorded. So, here I’ve put tangible effort and work into this, and if someone hears it and wants to have it for their own, it’s not unreasonable for me to expect to be recouped for the money and time I’ve spent, as well as be compensated towards a profit for enriching their lives. So, all of that to say, the writing is not about the money, but the recording is.

  27. Callie
    January 23, 2010 at 3:45 pm

    I think illegally downloading music is stealing, plain and simple.

  28. merlefan49
    January 23, 2010 at 3:48 pm

    I prefer to buy the downloads since it takes up no room space. I belong to emusic where you get a set number of downloads per month for a fee. They cater to the indie artist.

  29. 1953
    January 23, 2010 at 3:56 pm

    Phil, what is worth $10.00 to you may be worth on $1.00 to me and vice versa. who’s to decide? as always, the market.

  30. Phil
    January 23, 2010 at 4:18 pm

    OK then Idlewildsouth…record some good music so people will be willing to pay for it. The same thing could be said for the circus. Produce a good show so more people will be more willing to spend their money to go see it.

    And Stormy…you are right. But like I said in my first sentence, that is why I didn’t choose that profession in the first place.

  31. idlewildsouth
    January 23, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    But by downloading it illegally, that shows us that people actually want the product. The real problem here is that society has a sense of entitlement and people think they have some sort of right to have music and shouldn’t be expected to pay for it.

  32. Phil
    January 23, 2010 at 4:42 pm

    Like I said…there have been studies that show that people who download illegally are also more than likely to be music buyers as well.

    Anyway, the Industry needs to make it about the music again…and not the personality and image masquerading as the music. Today, the package is the message (rather than there being any message in the package). And I read the package loud and clear…so why bother opening it to find nothing inside?

  33. Phil
    January 23, 2010 at 5:42 pm

    I think that the Industry is too focused on people who are downloading music for free and using that as an excuse. Rather than trying to figure out why people like me don’t download music for free, but aren’t buying any of today’s music either. I’m a potential customer…but not by what the Industry is currently offering.

    So I wouldn’t go to the circus for free and I won’t download today’s music for free either. Both are things that don’t interest me. It’s the music industry’s job to find a way to get me interested enough to buy their product. Let alone listen to it. And right now they are not doing their job if you ask me. Just using the same excuses by focusing on a problem they inflicted on themselves that has no solution (piracy)…when they should be focusing on the real problem they inflicted on themselves as a result of that (the quality of that product and marketing to a wider audience), and that does have a solution.

  34. sam (sam)
    January 23, 2010 at 5:43 pm

    I’m not sure I agree with Phil that “the Industry needs to make it about the music again…and not the personality and image masquerading as the music.”

    On what basis do we know that people want to buy good quality music more than they want to buy into an image, personality, and story that appeals to them for whatever reason?

    Most (perhaps all) of the artists who sold extremely well and survived a long time have had strong and unique images that differentiated themselves from other artists — Garth Brooks, Waylon Jennings, Dolly Parton, Conway Twitty, et cetera. True, they also put out quality products. But it seems that the most successful artists were very image conscious (whether they would admit it or not).

    I wouldn’t be surprised if in fact Phil has it backward — image and personality drive music sales more than the music itself.

  35. Chris N.
    January 23, 2010 at 5:54 pm

    One way or another, suing housewives and 12-year-olds for millions of dollars is not going to do the music industry (songwriters included) any good.

  36. Dan E.
    January 23, 2010 at 5:58 pm

    Phil: There are plenty of artists out there who carry messages into their package. Carrie Underwood is one example. Her recent single reflects just that.

  37. Jon
    January 23, 2010 at 5:59 pm

    Look, Phil, the “problem” you identify doesn’t appear to be reflected in the behavior of illegal downloaders, because guess what? They mostly illegally download the same stuff that is being bought, either as downloads or as physical product. All the stuff that you think is ruining the music business (because it’s music for the love of money instead of money for the love of music and all that other gibberish you’ve posted in the last few months) is what they’re downloading; they’re just not paying for it.

    Idlewildsouth is exactly right: ” if I’m not willing to pay for something, I shouldn’t expect to be able to enjoy it.” But I don’t agree that people feel they have a right to free music; I think they know that they have no such right, but tend to think that they can get away with stealing it.

  38. Phil
    January 23, 2010 at 6:09 pm

    OK….I’ll say it again. Image and personality has always been important. But the Industry is focusing on that first rather than the music first. If that is what America wants, that is only because that is what the media says it should want. Just like 40 years ago when man went to the moon and we were a generation lost in space.

    I read a cartoon in the paper a few months ago that says it all. It has a young person 40 years ago saying “I want to go to the moon and one day discover life on another planet”. It then showed a young person from today standing next to that person saying, “I want to be a contestant on American Idol”. That’s all I need to know about our society’s values today.

    Now as far as what Dan E. said…Carrie Underwood is just another Industry creation trying to sell a message to the same audience the Industry has been catering to for the past 10 years. She did not create herself…the Industry did that for her.

  39. Phil
    January 23, 2010 at 6:11 pm

    And Jon…that’s too bad they’re not paying for the music they download. But what about the people out there who aren’t downloading it even if they could for free? Let alone buying any of it.

  40. Steve M.
    January 23, 2010 at 6:15 pm

    Given that the music industry had to be dragged kicking and screaming into working with legal download sites like Itunes and still bitch and moan about its price structure, the top record companies are as much at fault as those who illegally downloaded music. They seemed to have a recurring problem of adjusting to new technology.

  41. sam (sam)
    January 23, 2010 at 6:27 pm

    Phil – no doubt the media has an immense influence on America. But I’m not at all clear what such generalized statements have to do with illegal downloading, the music industry’s current economic situation, or other relevant topics.

    Nor am I clear on what importance it is to the current discussion whether Carrie Underwood created herself or was created by “the Industry.”

    You claim that the industry is now focusing on image first rather than music first. But you offer no evidence whatsoever that this is true today or that the industry placed music first years ago. Moreover, you offer not one shred of evidence that this supposed shift has in fact caused the current problems with music sales. Moreover, you do not even offer a reason to believe that this alleged shift might be part of the problem.

  42. Dan E.
    January 23, 2010 at 6:36 pm

    Phil: She always had the talent and knowledge of what kind of music she wanted to sing. She was on a show that helped her to showcase this. With all three albums, she was able to do what many artists are able to do – bring the love of music to an audience that is ready to listen.

  43. stormy
    January 23, 2010 at 9:06 pm

    Phil: To be fair, American Idol was not created pretty much directly from the intelligence of pardoned Nazi officers. Goals may be different but there was nothing pure or innocent about America in the 1940’s.

  44. Steve M.
    January 23, 2010 at 9:14 pm

    Well to fair Stormy, if they weren’t working for the U.S. government, the German scientists would have been in Siberia helping the Soviet space program.
    And my belief is that American Idol is the British revenge for losing the Revolutionary War.

  45. Steve M.
    January 23, 2010 at 9:14 pm

    That should have read-To be fair,

  46. stormy
    January 23, 2010 at 9:49 pm

    I’m just saying there’s no “better” or “purer” time in history. And the music business was just as jacked up then.

  47. Steve M.
    January 23, 2010 at 10:09 pm

    After reading too much Lester Bangs after being inspired by “Almost Famous” I’d like to think there was a brief shining moment where it was the music that important, not the business side. But that is probably very naive on my part.

  48. Jon
    January 23, 2010 at 10:35 pm

    Given that the music industry had to be dragged kicking and screaming into working with legal download sites like Itunes and still bitch and moan about its price structure, the top record companies are as much at fault as those who illegally downloaded music.

    Not only is the logic faulty there – since no one has ever forced anyone else to illegally download music, the applicable phrase here is “blaming the victim – but the interpretation of the actual facts is pretty shaky, too. “Kicking and screaming?” Exactly how? By negotiating with Apple, which is itself a corporation of some considerable size, over what Apple was going to pay in order to sell content owned by the labels and songwriters? And the “bitching and moaning” about its price structure would, if successful, actually benefit folks who profess to have better-than-mainstream tastes, as what the labels were looking for was a premium charge on more popular (i.e., mainstream) stuff.

    It’s important to keep in mind that a lot of the invective directed at content owners for an alleged inability or unwillingness to “adapt to” new technology was and is created and/or embellished upon by those on the technology side seeking to maximize their own revenues at the expense of the creators’ revenues. Not content with the fact that the negotiating position of creators is already weakened by the existence of massively widespread theft of content, they seek to drive down the price they have to pay for content even further by appealing to those who would like to stick it to The Man (even if only vicariously), while sidestepping the fact that they, are, themselves The Man.

  49. Phil
    January 23, 2010 at 10:58 pm

    Wow…a few things I’d like to say regarding this.

    First of all. Let’s talk about piracy. The fact of the matter is all I am saying is the Industry is focusing too much of it’s attention on those who want to get into the “circus” (if you will) for free, rather than those who would be more than willing to pay full admission if they put on a good show to begin with. Me…I’ll just stay home, or spend my money elsewhere until they do. The Industry is losing more money by not doing so than they are with those who are not willing to pay for their product to begin with and trying to get it for nothing.

    As far as American Idol goes…well, it’s just another British invasion. They have basically just brought their culture over here…..from the
    Beatles to now American Idol.

    To Dan E…I never said that Carrie didn’t have talent. All I’m saying is the Industry created her (and Taylor and countless other acts) for one purpose. To bring in a “new” audience to Country Music. And the Industry is catering exclusively to that audience and disregarding everyone else in the process. So pardon me if I don’t want to buy something that I don’t want to listen to in the first place, or to Acts that offer nothing compared to the “Artists” of the past that I do enjoy listening to.. Let alone download it for free and put it in my music collection. Good gosh, I was just out on a 3 hour drive and I heard 10 Taylor Swift songs on the radio while I was flipping stations. I can’t wait ’til the day people say, “we used to listen to that?” and laugh. I already am.

    Here is the list of all the music I have bought in the past 10 years (that was new at the time). And I have not downloaded anything for free except what I know I will buy after I download it (but I only download it for free because it is not available for purchase yet (ie. it leaked early)…but once it is, I always buy it).

    Coldplay “A Rush Of Blood To The Head”
    Tori Amos “Scarlet’s Walk”
    Cake “Pressure Chief”
    The David Gates Songbook
    Kristy Lee Cook “Why Wait”

    Anyway, to me the only way the music industry is really marketing mainstream music to the male audience today is to have them buy it for their kids (especially teen daughters)…thank goodness I don’t have any. Although I would be more than willing to buy music for myself if I could actually find some worth listening to. It seems the “Circus” must have passed me by though or is only interested in appeasing the “kiddies” and doesn’t want my money. So I’m just going to have to stay home and spend my money elsewhere, and wait for the show to come back, and that offers something I am willing to go see. Until then, I guess they can focus all their attention catering to the audience they have been, and on those who want to get in the show for free. And ignore those like me who are willing to go buy tickets, but waiting for something better to be offered before they do.

    And to Sam (Sam)…I think I have offered plenty of evidence. All one has to do is look back to the consolidation of the Music Industry (including the labels and radio and concert promotions), and the Telecommunications Act Of 1996 to see when this whole thing really started, and image and personality trumped music with such new acts as Britney Spears and ‘N Sync. And Country Music has followed suit. It’s time to make it about the “Artist” again, and not all about who that person is as an “Artist”.

  50. sam (sam)
    January 23, 2010 at 11:19 pm

    Phil – If you are going to argue that “image trumped personality with such new acts as Britney Spears and ‘N Sync” and also argue that “It’s time to make it about the “Artist” again,” I am truly confused.

    If Britney and N’Snyc were about personality rather than music, then isn’t that an argument for personality over music? — after all, Britney and N’Snyc have been outrageously succesful commercially. And Justin Timberlake, after leaving N’Snyc, has gone sell truckloads of solo albums.

    But, anyhow, if Britney Spears is more about personality than music, what does the 1996 Telecommunications Act have to do with it? Surely prior to 1996 there were many acts whose primary appeal was personality rather than vocal talent or musical skills. You offer no evidence that image trumped music after 1996 but did not do so prior to 1996. Or that image and personality has become more important since 1996.

  51. Phil
    January 23, 2010 at 11:42 pm

    Again Sam (Sam)…you are not looking at the “big” picture. Just because I mentioned those two artists does not paint the entire picture of what it has done to the Music Industry as a whole.

    What does the 1996 Telecommunication Act have to do with it? Simple…that is when the mom and pop radio stations were gobbled up by corporations like Clear Channel and radio started playing only it’s “Star” performers and it became more about pleasing the shareholders than the actual audience that listens. So of course acts like Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake were able to take advantage of that.

  52. WELL;
    January 23, 2010 at 11:43 pm

    image and personality is unfortunately a big thing in every industry, not just entertainment.. I can honestly understand it being in the ET industry… people judge others on it and it’s always been that way only it’s worse than ever and it’s not going anywhere. I don’t think the music industry has invented it at all.. I think they’re trying to get the listening public to pay attention and are pulling out all the stops to do so.. I know teens who use limewire.. they look at my itunes library and can’t believe I’ve actually bought all those singles, cd’s, movies, etc… are amazed that I’ve wasted my money when I could have got it free.. well, that tells me they feel pretty entitled to take what’s free.. what do you expect? If you can live scott free off your parents w/o paying a nickel board and save all your money.. or go out and rent an apartment what are you going to do? Or better example, when you have 100$ cash after christmas and you’re out with you mommy shopping and you stop to eat, are you going to pay 10$ of that or let mommy pay? Of course you going to let her pay.. it’s entitlement..

    Kids are ripping music off b/c they can.. it has nothing to do with the quality of the music, they like it fine… they just aren’t going to pay if they’re not required to..

  53. Phil
    January 23, 2010 at 11:48 pm

    And it’s still going on today with Acts like Carrie and Taylor. But remember to look at what it has done to the “big” picture. Just because those two artists who are relying on personlity and image over music are selling millions…the same can’t be said for many others for the same reasons…all one has to do is look at the overall music sales across the board for Country Music Artists. Not just one or two artists sales.

  54. sam (sam)
    January 24, 2010 at 12:05 am

    Phil says that after the 1996 act, radio stations, under new ownership, started playing only “Star performers” and that it “became more about pleasing the shareholders than the actual audience that listens.”

    But again, no evidence is offered for the implied assertion that radio stations, after the 1996 Act, are less interested in pleasing the “actual audience that listens” than they were before that Act.

    Moreover, Phil offers no evidence for the seemingly implied assertion that radio stations owned by mom and pop were any less motivated by profit than are those owned by for profit corporations.

    As for acts that allegedly are about image over music: again, no evidence is offered that there are more of these acts since 1996 than before. None. So therefore there is no reason, at least no reason offered by Phil, to believe that the 1996 Act led to the behavior that Phil argues is hurting the industry.

    Re: Britney and N’Snyc. They are just two acts. True — but you argue that we should go back to making it about the “artist again” and then cite two acts who you think are not about “the artist” (whatever this means). You offer no evidence that your preferred approach would lead to greater profits for the industry, and the acts you do cite when discussing your dis-favored approach are ironically evidence – not conclusive evidence, but evidence – in favor of that approach.

    You mention that Timberlake and Britney were able to take advantage of post 1996 radio; but it seems that similar acts were able to take advantage of pre-1996 radio in years gone by. And you offer no evidence that Timberlake and Britney would have had any more trouble “taking advantage” of a pre 1996 radio climate than they in fact had in the late 1990s.

  55. Phil
    January 24, 2010 at 12:10 am

    And Sam (Sam) offers no evidence that those things he mentioned that I mentioned did not take place. So I guess we’re at a standstill.

    But I have offered plenty of evidence in my past posts in other threads if one has taken the time to read them.

  56. sam (sam)
    January 24, 2010 at 12:23 am

    Phil – you’re right, I haven’t offered any evidence that those things did not take place. And they may well have taken place. I’m not arguing that they did not take place, so I see no reason to offer evidence that they did or did not.

    However, you are making claims that certain changes have caused the industry financial trouble. So it seems fair to ask for evidence that (1) these changes have in fact happened and (2) that they are in fact responsible for the alleged problems.

    Yet you do not offer such evidence despite protestations. Instead you offer discussion of “big pictures,” “music for the sake of money v money for the sake of music” and other ideas that are not very clear. iIn fact, Jon called such talk gibberish in a post above, and while that may have been harsh, its an understandable assessment. Such phrases seem to lack any clear or consistent meaning.

  57. Dan E.
    January 24, 2010 at 1:28 am

    Within all of the posts that Phil responds to, he says the same thing over and over again. He never really adds anything new to his argument. I also do not follow into his “evidence” that he throws in people’s directions.

    Sorry, Phil, I’m still not buying your opinion that the Industry created Carrie Underwood and other artists. Carrie chose what genre she wanted to go to as evidence with the songs she was singing on Idol. No one but herself created her. A company produced records for her, but they did not form her. Carrie did not change her identity because of the Industry. She stayed true to herself, to her music, and has done her best to avoid much publicity about her personal life. She is a class-act and will become a legend of country music in, no doubt, a short amount of time.

    Also, believe it or not, it’s not just the “kiddies” buying these cds of artists you do not care for. There are plenty of older fans out there. Looking at the “big” picture, contemporary country is here to stay for a long, long time because contemporary country fans appreciate the music of these artists, knowing that they are honest and they care for their music in ways that people like Phil will never understand.

    Finally, I do find it amusing how you jump on American Idol yet one of the 5 albums you’ve bought in the last decade is Kristy Lee Cook.

  58. Phil
    January 24, 2010 at 1:32 am

    OK Sam (Sam)…if you want to take out pieces of what I said and make them out to be my whole argument and then call it gibberish that’s fine. Just remember that I had lot more to say than those little quotes you stated, and taking out pieces of what I said to fit into your neat little package of how you want to see it rather than how I stated it in the whole context does not tell the whole story of what I said. Dan E. is great at doing that too.

    Anyway, hopefully these links work and help prove some of my points. These are about the effects of the consolidation of the music industry. And while it may not be so much about Piracy…I think Piracy is just a ploy being used by the Music Industry to cover up a much bigger problem that is staring back at them in the mirror.

    The first is an excerpt from a book called “Ripped” by Greg Kot the New York Times published. The link worked fine when I just tried it, so hopefully it still does.

    The second is from a PBS show called Frontline from 2004 (but it’s still very valid today). I love what David Crosby had to say.

    And finally, the last is from the EnneagramInstitute about the fast becoming dysfunctional Type 3 society we live in today. One doesn’t have to know anything about Enneagram personality types, but it is very fascinating to read up on. If you read about all the types, you can probably figure out which type I am…LOL

    As far as piracy goes…well, let’s just say that I understand the frustration on the part of those who are trying to make a living in the Music Industry…but Piracy should not be blamed for a problem that is much bigger than that and the Industry could have avoided in the first place.

  59. Phil
    January 24, 2010 at 3:06 am

    Think what you want Dan…but don’t you find it odd that Carrie and Taylor both came on the scene at practically the same time? It was obviously a strategy employed by the Industry as a whole. And quite frankly, I think it’s a horrible strategy that is bound to fail, and for the short term has hurt the credibility of Country Music to be taken as a serious genre and hurt other female artists chances of becoming successful because they are being forced to appease that same audience that Carrie and Taylor brought with them. And radio still won’t play their music unless their name happens to be Carrie or Taylor (with a few exceptions of course like Miranda Lambert and Reba). And it has created a “fake” popularity contest between all the female artists fanbases. For the long term it could be even more devastating. But time will tell.

    As far as me becoming a fan of Kristy Lee Cook goes…well, that is very odd I suppose, even to me. I went on the American Idol forums back in March of 2008 to state how I felt the show was hurting the mainstream music scene in this Country. I was not really a fan of any of the contestants at the time although I watched the show but had never bought any albums it produced…I think Brooke White was my favorite at the time. Anyway, to make a long story short, I became a fan of Kristy’s over the next month and I’m sure being on the forum had a little to do with it. It just became ridiculous how everyone blamed her for their favorite leaving. And I’m sure that was a setup by the show done by placing her in the bottom 2 four times while someone else’s favorite went home that was standing next to her (even Nigel Lithgoe stated that the show can manipulate the bottom 3 how it sees fit, but the bottom vote getter does go home every week). The fact she was sick for the first 3 weeks of the competition really left her at a disadvantage, and those are the critical weeks of building your fanbase for the rest of the competition…But I really liked Kristy’s voice and style after she sang “You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away”…so by the time she sang “Anyway” was when I really became a fan. Unfortunately for Kristy, I think her biggest problem was that she was on the same show that Carrie had already won, so they weren’t looking for another female Country artist. The judges comments and the producers of the show seemed to make that crystal clear. And it seemed that so many people questioned Kristy’s personality which is something I never understood. Was I manipulated to become a fan of Kristy’s? I don’t think so…if I was, then I manipulated myself into it. But let’s just say if she couldn’t sing and deliver and interpret a song the way she does, I never would have become a fan in the first place. Otherwise I’d probably be a fan of Carrie’s and Taylor’s.

    I’m still puzzled as to why Arista signed her though when they already had Carrie on their label. And then marketed her as another Carrie Underwood and gave her pretty much zero promotion. I heard an interview with Kristy that all the songs for the album were picked out and then someone from the label asked her if she wanted the song “15 Minutes Of Shame” at the last minute. The song sounds nothing like anything else on her album and went after the same audience that Carrie and Taylor already have (and we all know that Carrie and Taylor fans only see other female artists as competition)…and also did not define her as an artist. But the first thing I said was Kristy needs to differentiate herself from Carrie and Kellie (and Taylor), and Arista did the exact opposite. And I don’t think it was an accident the way they rushed everything with her. The show never gave her a chance because they already had Carrie Underwood, and neither did her label for the same reason. So one can probably assume why her fans are a little bit upset about it. And I don’t blame Kristy for signing with the label because I read in the contract they sign with American Idol, once a contestant makes the Top 10 they are obligated to sign with 19 if they want he or she. So obviously it leaves me scratching my head why 19 wanted Kristy and none of the other contestants, and then Arista proceeded to do everything the exact opposite of how I would have gone about it.

    But there is no denying what shows like American Idol have done to the mainstream music scene. They have made it about the person rather than the artist, and the entire Industry seems to have followed suit and only markets it’s final product to “their” target audience that watches the show, forgetting that there are other people out there (including those who watch the show) who would buy music, but are being forced to buy a personality instead. The show is more of a popularity contest than a talent competition as the show casts the contestants as characters as if they’re in a movie to play a certain role. And that mentality seems to have trickled down to the entire Industry if you ask me. It’s just one big popularity contest designed to appease a specific demographic.

    Anyway, I can only hope that Kristy is given a real chance and can showcase her talent and who she wants to be as an artist and not who somebody else wants her to be…because the show and her label never gave her one. I know you said Kristy will just fade away…well, I hope that’s not true. Because she has much more to offer as an artist than what Arista and American Idol allowed her to show.

    But I hope I answered your question as to why I am a fan of Kristy Lee Cook…and not so much a fan of the show American Idol because of what it has done to music overall in this Country. Even if it does give aspiring artists a shot…it’s more about the personality of the contestants, and about the judges and the producers casting the contestants and scripting their one liners than the actual contestants as “artists” and their music. It sure as heck isn’t about the audience voting like the show wants everyone to think it is. And just for reference sake, I was on the Forums last year too and was not a fan of any of the contestants. I’m already having my doubts about this season as well.

  60. Steve Harvey
    January 24, 2010 at 5:50 am

    And Sam (Sam) offers no evidence that those things he mentioned that I mentioned did not take place.
    Phil, burden of proof is on you, as you are the one making an assertion. If I were to state that Barack Obama is a fan of hot dogs, and that’s why he’s sending more troops to Afghanistan, then the burden of proof would be on me to show evidence that a) Obama liked hot dogs and b) this had somehow impacted on his foreign policy decisions.

    Sam’s just asking for the evidence. You can’t claim something’s true, then when someone asks you to prove it, say ‘You can’t prove it’s not true’ and act like both sides of the argument are now equal. That’s not how arguments work.

  61. WELL;
    January 24, 2010 at 9:04 am

    I think Phil’s whole argument is washed out b/c he’s putting down Carrie Underwood, and AI, but is clearly a BIG fan of a few of AI’s other performers who aren’t doing as well…. If he was a big supporter of struggling unknown female artists of the country genre maybe some people here would listen and take him seriously.. but as I see it, it’s just sour grapes on his part.

    Wake-up Phil… and see your own agenda. It’s a personal agenda, not a save the music agenda…..

    Music is controlled by big business, much like anything else.. Taylor Swift actually was not created… her label started out very small but b/c she became a teen idol, they’re now very successful.. She did not make it off any reality show. I’m sure someone did heavily invest in her, it was surely a gamble but I hear or read she did have 100,000 myspace fans when she started.. So she did work it big time. I do admire her, and her people for that.

    I think shows like AI save the industry the big marketing bucks and it also gives free insight as to what artists are going to fly and what ones aren’t.. can you blame them?.. Yes, I think it sucks that little known artists aren’t being picked up and invested in. There are truly great artists out there that have been turned away. I also think that if there’s something there and they work to find fans, the industry will come to them like it always has.

  62. Josh
    January 24, 2010 at 9:52 am

    This is why I come and read the 9513 blog of country music (and honestly, music in general). It seems to me that politics is waaaay over in everyone’s heads but this is America and we all can say what we feel. The main issue here are vantage points: everyone has their own reasoning and views that directly contradict/conflicts one another and yet we all have that line of vision that’s very well point taken. But out of everything that I’ve read so far, I agree with the comment that with Keith Urban/Toby Keith opinion, KU was simply meaning to treasure the experience of what it’s like to be a performer and the audience member sharing that same feeling in turn. Anyone who has watched KU perform (whether live in concert/person or on televised/youtube clips) would have to wonder why all he does comes from the heart and how he does it is by pure enjoyment of entertaining…nothing more, nothing less. I do see the point Toby Keith is making and my good side agree with him, but KU was just for the sake of music, wanting everyone to experience that “spiritual” high that comes from entertaining.

  63. Phil
    January 24, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    First of all, I think I have offered proof to back up my points, but that is up to each individual to decide.

    And nope…my only agenda has always been to get music back to where it needs to be (I was actually going to say that I think everyone here obviously has there own agenda)…Kristy Lee Cook and other struggling female artists just so happen to be a great example to prove my points of exactly what I find wrong with the music industry, and why female Country artists are struggling. I mean, Darius Rucker released his album the exact same day as Kristy, and he isn’t even a Country singer. Obviously the Industry is picking the winners and losers. Not the fans. Either that or the wrong fans are picking the winners and losers in not only Country Music, but the Industry as a whole. So I think I am entitled to my opinions.

    At least I’m trying to offer a solution to the Music Industry’s real problems as I see them (marketing its product to a wider audience and developing new talent from the bottom up rather than the top down approach they are using at the moment among other things), and that can be fixed to help the Industry as a whole. And not trying to pin the blame on something that the Industry really has no control over and is probably too late to fix anyway (piracy and file sharing)…

  64. Phil
    January 24, 2010 at 12:15 pm

    Oh, and I have nothing against Carrie Underwood (or Taylor Swift) by the way. I’m just against the business model that Country Music is currently using as to why Carrie and Taylor are really the only truly successful female Country Artists at the moment, and really have no competition because of it. But that is really only a small part of the big picture of what I have been trying to state as a whole.

  65. stormy
    January 24, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    Phil: To be fair, Darius Rucker had a history of selling albums and Kristy Lee Cook had a history being dropped from record labels.

  66. Nicolas
    January 24, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    Kristy Lee Cook got dropped from her record label because no one bought her album, her only claim to fame was that she sold her prized horse to audition for American Idol, and quite frankly she sucked; she practically had a seat reserved for her in the Bottom 2 every week.

  67. Dan E.
    January 24, 2010 at 12:44 pm

    Phil: No, I don’t find it odd at all. The Industry had no specific strategy at all. Carrie won Idol so someone was going to sign her, why not them? Luckily for them, she was one of the few contestants that people loved to no end. In Taylor’s case, a big gamble was taken on her because she was a new artist that wasn’t going to sign with anybody that wouldn’t let her use her own songs – music that had tons of meaning to her.

    Just because other female artists aren’t at the success level as these two (although Reba has had decades of a career and is still performing well) doesn’t mean they aren’t being successful in their own right. Not everyone gets dropped on a dime like Kristy did.

    On the Kristy issue, I’m glad you’re a fan of hers. I don’t believe for a minute you were manipulated into being her fan just like I don’t believe anybody was manipulated into being a fan of Carrie’s. Everyone has their own mind and can decide for themselves who they want to support. Also, Kristy just came off Idol, people knew when her album came out, and her single was a top 30 song. She had promotion, but like most contestants on Idol didn’t have the “it” factor that people wanted to see.

  68. Phil
    January 24, 2010 at 1:59 pm

    Let’s just say that I am amused.

  69. Jon
    January 24, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    the wrong fans are picking the winners and losers in not only Country Music, but the Industry as a whole.

    “The wrong fans” – I gotta remember that.

  70. stormy
    January 24, 2010 at 2:34 pm

    Nicholas: Even before American Idol, Kristy Lee Cook had an album deal which failed to pan out.

  71. Phil
    January 24, 2010 at 3:20 pm

    I guess if nothing else it proves that Simon was wrong when he told Kristy she was “Forgettable”. At least some people here seem to remember her…even if they fail to list all the facts, and only state the ones they see fit.

  72. stormy
    January 24, 2010 at 3:41 pm

    And I guess being forgettable is slightly worse than being memorably bad.

  73. Marc
    January 24, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    writers > performers > downloaders > labels

  74. Phil
    January 24, 2010 at 4:00 pm

    Stormy said: And I guess being forgettable is slightly worse than being memorably bad.

    Pretty much like all of your one liners.

  75. Nicolas
    January 24, 2010 at 8:00 pm

    I’d rather read a Stormy one-liner than a Phil paragraph-tirade

  76. Phil
    January 24, 2010 at 8:59 pm

    Tirade? I’ll take that as a compliment. :) At least I know you can’t read now.

  77. Filipino Kid
    January 25, 2010 at 8:25 am

    Keith Urban doesn’t care cause he rarely covers a song or do a song by other songwriters. I only know two cover songs by Keith Urban:

    Can’t Stop Loving You by Phil Collins
    Call My Name by Third Day

  78. Peter
    January 25, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    Keith recorded Elton John’s Country Comfort too; prob. the countriest thing he’s ever done

  79. Mojo Bone
    January 25, 2010 at 4:28 pm

    Oh pooh, so someone’s posts are too long and their mom’s a Nazi sympathizer? The whole argument’s pointless, when the music industry is undergoing yet another of its periodic episodes of market chaos. For a limited time it will be possible for the artistic cream to rise to the top, unfettered by financial concerns; Phil should be happy about that-almost nobody should be doing it for the money, these days, cuz there ain’t none. Fact is, there never was, at least not for artists, as opposed to music acts, so nothing has fundamentally changed except expectations and this; it’s now possible to make an unlimited number of cheap, low-quality copies of songs in near-zero space and for near-zero dollars.

    Well, one other thing. There used to be a sort of social contract between fans, labels and artists where the top one-one hundred thousandth of a percent of all music acts got paid an obscene amount, much of which was stolen by record companies, who, in turn, used a portion of their swag to develop the next generation of music acts with enough mass appeal to move an obscene amount of product, for which the fans were glad to part with a few shekels to purchase. This worked great until the biggest labels began to focus less on the music than the money and failed to figure out how to market music to the next generation of music users. This has happened approximately six times, since Edison “invented” sound recording. Usually, what happens next is that some small aggressive independent labels step up to the plate, and develop the next generation of music acts with mass appeal. Problem is, that doesn’t seem to be happening. Almost no new acts are selling platinum, almost no new acts have sustained careers, and slashed budgets leave no room for an act to fail a few times before making it, as used to be fairly common. If you’re an artist, enjoy the chaos while it lasts, because you’re easier to find than ever, if you choose to be worth finding.

    Third thing: kids today expect everything to be handed to them, and they won’t get off my lawn.

  80. Lucas
    January 26, 2010 at 9:09 am

    First comment I’ve left in a long time…

    Pre-cursor: I’ve given up on the idea of money. I don’t like it, I think it’s sick. For some reason as soon as I did I acquired more branding and website clients in a couple weeks than I have in my entire time doing the work.

    If I was wrote a song for a major artist I personally would not care if people illegally downloaded the songs. If I was a major artist I still wouldn’t care. That’s a mix of what I stated earlier and the fact that I fully believe music should be for the love of it. Music is too personal of a thing to be restricted by money. Everybody should have access to it – it makes no sense to talk about the love of it and then add money into the love, if you did that in a relationship you would be divorced fairly quickly. Keith Urban proved that.

    However, I do understand that some people have the grueling job of writing words onto paper. Do I pay for my music? Yes. If they want to be paid, I’ll pay them.

    I still buy CDs – this basically makes me a record label’s best friend and perfect customer. I have to buy CDs – I get plenty of music for free right now on the radio and I’m not even willing to take it.

    There’s my hippie point of view.

  81. Kelly
    January 26, 2010 at 9:16 am

    “… I fully believe music should be for the love of it. Music is too personal of a thing to be restricted by money. Everybody should have access to it..”

    Lucas, that isnt a “hippie” vision, that is a pure, unadulterated fairy-tale land that you are living in. Drew Brees has said that he loves to play football, should he play for free? Should the NFL pay the money to put on free football games, simply due to it being a game that players love to play? It costs money to get music into the hannds of the people that want to hear it and that makes it a business from that end. You sure made your first comment in a long while a doozie.

  82. sam (sam)
    January 26, 2010 at 10:26 am

    Kelly raises some good points. Let me add some more. Re: the line “Music is too personal of a thing to be restricted by money. Everybody should have access to it..”

    I don’t get it. If music is personal, then it would seem everybody most certainly should not have access to it. Generally, our most personal things are those we share with only a select few.

    More importantly, re “Everybody should have access to it.” I agree everyone should have access to music — but unless musicians get paid, it is not likely everyone will have access. For if musicians cannot get paid (money!) they will be forced to find some other line of work. There will be less music. And the kind that there is will be of the hobbyist nature — some guys playing for their friends on a back porch. There’s nothing wrong with that, but if we want professional musicians, if we want a society in which people can earn a living making music and devote many hours a day to honing their craft, we need to have money. At least I think we do; if someone else has an alternate way, please let me know.

    Anyhow, I don’t think music is so personal as to be beyond commercial transaction.

  83. Lucas
    January 26, 2010 at 7:02 pm

    Neah, I’m going to go with hippie.

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