Todd Durrant’s Random Thoughts
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Random Music Thoughts

It’s time to throw out a few more random thoughts about the music business and things that have crossed my mind lately…

KIDS THESE DAYS…

Warning, this first segment does echo some thoughts I’ve already shared…just put into the form of a small, real life example:

I’m happy to say that my oldest son, Dylan, who is almost sixteen and just learning to drive, has a general respect for the music business and it’s struggles.  Yes, he has grown up with a dad who depends on the music business to put food on the table, and even when he was an infant he was wiggling, fussing, and getting his diaper changed in a music store.    He has a laptop and an MP3 player loaded with music and regularly checks to see what else I might be able to suggest that fits his tastes.   He knows that every MP3 on those devices comes from a CD that his dad has purchased one way or another.   Yes, they’ve been ripped and “copied” but only for my family’s own use, and thankfully, since I have the original CD’s, I can put those tracks on any device I want with ease.

But here is what makes me proud– he doesn’t copy them for friends and even gives his peers a hard time when they openly rip off music.   Just recently I found a band called Manic Bloom that has released one EP (it’s available on iTunes, Amazon, etc. as a download, or as a CD from the band’s homepage, where I bought it).  They’re a very good progressive rock band, and it’s the kind of thing that Dylan also enjoys.  So, Dylan has been listening to Manic Bloom and one of his good friends checked it out.   Soon enough, his friend reported back something like this, “Hey Dylan, I can’t find Manic Bloom anywhere online!”

Well, Dylan knows that Manic Bloom is easy to find online.  As I just mentioned, they’re on the major stores for download and you can pop right onto their homepage to pick up their music if you just Google them.   But what this buddy was saying was basically, “hey, I can’t find this band anywhere to download for free…”    Dylan told him to just go on iTunes and get it.   But this kid wouldn’t, and just complained that the stupid band wasn’t even on the 10-cent download sites.  Dylan mentioned that those 10-cent download sites are illegal and steal the music.   “But I’m paying SOMETHING on those sites, so it’s OK.”    Oh, great, the kid pays 10 cents for a song and figures that makes everything OK.

First of all, congrats to Manic Bloom for somehow avoiding the illegal Russian download sites, because very few people escape their exploits, though maybe it is only a sign that Manic Bloom is not distributed well, so they haven’t been noticed enough to be stolen yet.  But my main point is this– the kid gave up entirely because he couldn’t get the music the right way, and when confronted about it by his own friend, he joked and basically summed it all up with, “well, I don’t care.”

That’s the problem.  Most kids don’t care.   They don’t care even when they’re told that what they are doing is wrong.  I mean, this is generally a good kid– I’ve met him several times and he’s not a loser or anything.  He just has absolutely ZERO sense of guilt or understanding about the way the music business is suffering from the entitlement syndrome.  As was mentioned in a comment by a friend on one of my earlier posts, this carries into the realm of software too.  The kids just want it, and if they can’t get it for free, then it’s just not cool enough for them.

As a side note, check out Manic Bloom’s EP.    It is quality stuff, and WORTH buying.   I even emailed the band to ask if I could make a dance remix of one of their songs.  Though they are a rock band, I thought that the song would fit into an electronic, dance club sound very well.  They replied immediately and loved the idea.  I made the mix and enjoyed doing it, and I hope that they find some use for it.  Heck, I hope they become the next Coldplay or Muse.   Good people that make good music = a product worth paying $5 for!

HERE IS WHERE I DON’T CARE ANYMORE…

Now, to change the subject in the spirit of truly random thoughts, let’s talk about something that I don’t worry about anymore.   There are times in past years when I’ve looked at the band guys I represent as a label and think, “these guys would probably sell a lot more if they just had an image”.    I’m not saying that I’ve wanted them to pretend to be gothic, or to dress up in the bondage gear or whatever, if that’s not what they’re into.  I’m just saying, many of the very successful bands from the new wave era (where synthpop was spawned) HAD some kind of image.  Think about it– Depeche Mode were the messed up pretty boys, with Martin Gore in his fishnet shirt (ugh!).   Thompson Twins– they had a cool image.  Adam Ant– I loved his image when I was a kid.  Boy George– OK, over the top, but EVERYBODY knew who he was the moment they saw him.  I could go on.  There were some who seemed to avoid the image thing, like New Order (for example) who I don’t think ever cared that they looked like every other Joe on the street.   So, I thought it was too bad that more of A Different Drum’s bands didn’t strive for some kind of image.   I liked that Mark of Faith Assembly wore a white shirt, black jacket, and tie on stage, because that was some kind of image.  I liked when Nate of B! Machine played into his love of Japanese culture with his stage image.   Anders of Moulin Noir is somebody that has always put effort into his image– the guy still puts on the skirt, tights, and black lipstick before taking the stage.

But now, I don’t really care anymore.  In fact, now that I’m putting out some of my own music due to mid-life crisis (or a desire for creative venting), I don’t care that I’m blatently obvious about the fact that I have a complete lack of “coolness” when it comes to image.  Face it, I’m a middle-aged, ordinary guy who doesn’t even have the energy to apply enough hair gel to get a few strands to defy gravity.   I don’t have any cool clothes.  I’m pretty sick of black t-shirts and black pants and would rather just wear cargo pants or jeans with colored t-shirts.  I’m about as boring as it gets when it comes to image, and I don’t care.

So, when you watch the silly homemade videos from Saudade, and you wonder who the boring guy is that keeps getting in the way of the scenery, pretending to act…well…that’s me.  I’m a middle-aged nerd!  And I don’t care if every other band I work with embraces who they are too, even if they are just as cookie-cutter-geek as I am.   We are who we are, and that’s OK.   We make cool music, so who cares if we lack any sense of fashion.

Still, I think I might be tempted under the right circumstances to do a photo shoot in a feather boa and welding goggles, just to say I did.  Yes, the geek might some day dress up for the camera!

ONE OF THE COOL THINGS ABOUT BRAZIL…

Now THAT is a random transition!  But really, there is a connection to be made with the subject of image.  I spent a couple of years in Brazil before I was married.  It was a wonderful time in my life, and I learned a lot from the people down there.   One thing I loved about the culture, which applies generally to the Latino population, is the lack of political correctness.   Wow, it was so refreshing to hear people express the way things were without any concern about the hearer taking offense.   Let’s say you are overweight, and somebody sees you’ve dropped your wallet… “Hey fatty, you dropped your wallet.”    Or your bald.   “Hey baldy, thanks for coming over.”  “Hey German,” a term often applied to any white person if you’re down south, which was often the case with me, “speak English!”

Yes, you just say it the way it is, and nobody cares if they are called “fatty” or “skinny” or “blacky” or “whitey” or whatever to their face, because after all, they ARE, right?   We have to be so guarded and so careful in the USA these days to say every little word just right, especially if you are in a position of public office or you are in the media, because heaven forbid, somebody might take offense!

“Yes, I’m fat, but I don’t like people to point that out because it makes me feel bad.”   If I’m heavy and I don’t want people to point it out, then maybe I should lose weight, rather than making other people feel guilty for noticing my condition.   Either that, or embrace my image and poke that gut out with pride!

Wow, that really was random.   I better wait until I have something more intelligent to say before I write some more on this blog.  Heck, I don’t want to offend anybody.

-Todd

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3 Responses to “Random Music Thoughts”

  1. Does the name Saudade come from you missing Brazil? I too lived in Brazil “for two years” and I miss how much more popular electronic music was down there.

    • Well, I think I’ve been back here so long that I don’t actively miss Brazil anymore, though I did wish to return for quite some time. But I still love the word Saudade, which doesn’t seem to have a direct translation in English, or a word with quite the same meaning.
      -Todd

  2. Todd, ok, alot to read here in reply, but bare with me….
    yes the truth is in the generation gaps…. in our day as teens we thrived upon all the ultra cool music the 80’s had to offer and we lived to see our favorite bands “Image” all over magizines, on MTV, and if we were lucky enough to get to go see them in concert.
    Actually I lived on MTV back then waiting to see that super cool Flock of Seagulls video ‘I Ran’, or Human League, or Thompson Twins, or yes even New Order ‘Blue Monday’ and the list goes on. At the same time, I couldn’t wait to run to the music super store and spend hours looking through CD’s and grabbing my fav’s of those bands.
    Man, having That physical cd in my hand, holding the liners, gave (and still gives) me that ultimate sense of ownership to something that means alot to me! But here’s the key: back then, we never had any other way to get up close to our icons, so we prayed for that next magizine to come out, or stared at the tv waiting for another awesome image cool video to be released on MTV, it was the ONLY way we were able to really get our feel of our fav bands.
    NO internet, NO instant access, NO myriad of such icons to choose from at the click of a mouse… and NO iPod to hold a ‘gazillion’ songs. We simply had no choice but to wait patiently for the magizines to tell us when and where to pick up the next album/cd of these artist. We had no choice but to wait several hours of staring at MTV or VH1 just to see that Flock of Seagulls video again. We “Valued” all of that.
    The kids/teens these days have a new world of their own, and they can’t imagine what it would have been like as I mentioned above. I’m not sure they can understand that true sense of “Appreciation” of ownership by actually buying a cd.
    Case and point, today with the world of the internet, the attention span last about as long as the click of a mouse, and with the now ‘gazillion’ ways to find any form of music, post music, play music, download music, and unfortunately steal music there seems to be an instant ‘Loss’ of appreciation to the artists… they are wrapped up in the mayhem of all the ‘gazillion’ of things they can quickly snag, push to MP3, load to iPod, and hold their attention for about ummm 4minutes and move on. ( of course, I’m not saying this of ALL teens/kids or even adults) But I do believe that the new generation of musical ears, may have succumb to sense of valueless ownership because of the “instant access” to anything via the internet. The internet has dominated their lives.
    I cannot even tell you the last time I saw kids outside playing, kickball, tag, or anything, they live on the computer and their entire world would fall apart if you took it away even for one day. My friend grounded his daughter and took the computer away for only one weekend and she went absoultely berzerk!
    Maybe their sense of ‘ownership’ is actually the internet itself! Hmmm.
    What’s sad is that the internet has helped us all in so many ways, while in the same breath taken away so much! Whether it be, honesty, integrity, loyality, informatically, or yes even worse, financially…
    Interestingly, I still VALUE all of my CD’s and I don’t know what it is but I just don’t feel that same true value by just downloading a song to vapor ware. And in many instances have purchased multiple copies of CD’s that I’ve ‘put back’ just in case something happens. Isn’t that CrazY !

    The other thing I wanted to note is that you stated you don’t care to have a “Cool” image now your putting out some songs of your own. To image or Not to image, that is the question! Well, I’m also of mid age and have grown to realize that image doesn’t necessairly have to be in play in order for me to purchase an artist music. If the music/lyrics stick to me like glue then I’ll be attracted to the artist/band regardless, BUT I do want to see pix or liners/notes, something tangible so I can again, “feel” that sense of appreciation for what I’m listening to. This is very important for me. I
    BUT, now I have not watched MTV in years. The change to what I witnessed to a more rap(ish) generation did not appeal to me, so I gave up… knowing that the bands, the synths, the images that I loved appeared to be gone overnight. At the same time


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