Can Someone Get Off Their Lazy Asses And Help The Artists That You Built Your Career On?

posted in: Helping Others | 4

Do I sound upset? Yeah, I’m pretty pissed. There are people out there raising massive amounts of dough on Kickstarter. There are people in the movie business that get crap songs on movie soundtracks left and right. There are popular bands covering stupid songs on albums all the time, just trying to sound cool. Yet Bill Mallonee is having to sell another guitar just to make ends meet and pay medical bills while you sit on top of stacks of guitars given to you by several companies. Brian Healy is scraping together funds to finish an album while you throw money around just to get a Lady Gaga wanna be in some blah teen-angst movie.

Look, there are bands, promoters, and executives out there that started off in the Christian business (and some that are still there) that would not be where they are today if it wasn’t for artists like Bill Mallonee and Brian Healy. You got to where you are on the backs of their hard work. Would it kill you to turn around and start to promote their music? Oh, I know that it will be harder to promote deeper music to a culture addicted to frilly pop junk music, but its about time you actually broke a sweat for once.

I’m not referring to the smaller labels and bands that are doing what they can to help others around them.

I’m talking about the big time CCM bands with the distinct Americana influences owed to Mallonee or slight twist of dark humor owed to Healy that maybe now are just recording the 5 millionth version of some worship-lite song when you could actually be recording something with real theological depth.

I’m talking about the people who are getting random unknown wannabe pop band songs into movie soundtracks left and right – especially songs that don’t even fit the movie or mood where they are used. How about fighting for some texture and depth in movie soundtracks?

Yeah, I know its going to be a lot harder to get non-flavor of the month music out there. So you might have to make more than a handful of phone calls to get it to happen. But that’s one of the huge problems with the mainstream music business – every aspect has lost its teeth in pursuit of the quick deal.

And also a word to some of the hard working musicians out there that struck gold with Kickstarter and other crowd sourced options. Ever thought about sharing the wealth?  Not really talking about the money per se here – ever thought to use your new-found popularity to put in a word for others that aren’t so fortunate? Some of the bands that we cover here do, and you would be surprised how much it helps. But circling back to the money thing – I get where if you go over a little bit or even two to three times your goal how that can still go into the recording process. I know many bands really do set a bare minimum budget and so the extra helps. But when you are going ten times over the original budget and starting to talk about things like super deluxe editions and coast-to-coast tours… most of us could care less. Your draining the limited pool of resources out there to buy music in general, which takes away from smaller less fortunate musicians. Many of whom were probably influences on your music. Ever thought about tithing some of that windfall to other projects? Or maybe just stopping and saying “we’ve got enough, please go support these other projects”? Just because you can raise more money, does it mean its a good idea to see how far you can go? And I know that some of the bands that we cover are already doing this, so I sincerely thank you. But to those that don’t, please consider your affect on the music scene as a whole when your fund raising project becomes a giant financial black hole to others.

And look, if you are getting mad at this and saying “but I did this and and this for all of these people”, then I’m obviously not talking to you. Please don’t think I’m trying to lump everyone in the same boat just because I am getting passionate here (for example, Steve Taylor is a good example of a more popular artist that supports less popular ones). It is just impossible to believe that with all the people in places of power and influence (that have people like Mallonee and Healy to thank), that there is NO ONE that can promote these struggling artists to a bigger audience. Believe me, smaller magazines (like us), websites, bands, and labels are trying, but there has to be someone out there with bigger connections that owe these artists a bigger debt of gratitude than they are admitting. Time for those individuals to wake up.

4 Responses

  1. In general I agree… Michael Knott, Terry Taylor, the Choir, and others should never have had to work another day in their life after writing certain songs.

    However, I’ve also seen many of the bands I grew up loving adjust EXTREMELY POORLY to the changes in the music business. They were used to recording contracts and advances, and never used the internet to create the connections with their fans through blogs, constantly updated websites, etc. the way many of the new bands do.

    So I lament that the grandfathers of cool Christian music are basically penniless, while those standing on the shoulders of giants act like they’re standing on the ground (who were you thinking of by the way?). But there’s blame to be laid on both sides.

    And the hope lies in this – our treasures as Christians do not lie in this life, because, as this article aptly describes, if they were we should be pitied more than anybody else…

  2. To be fair, artists in the past were never good at keeping up with changes in the music business, connecting with fans, etc. Even smaller indie bands in the 80s had volunteer promo teams that would post flyers, run newsletters, etc.

    And new bands are good at blogging, updating websites? Hardly. They are just as bad. Half the the updates we post here are through word of mouth when a fan emails us about them. We try to subscribe to blogs, email lists, visit websites, follow on FB, you name it. 90% of all bands, young and old, all suck at using technology.

    But when I was a fan in the 80s, older bands got a lot more respect than older ones. How else would Aerosmith become a big hit again in the 80s? Because of Motley Crue pulling for them behind the scenes. The stories go on and on. You don’t see that any more.

  3. Makes sense, and I sure wish that’d happen… But even in the secular market, haven’t there always been the “critically acclaimed” artists who never make any money?

    But yeah, didn’t the Choir basically invent the worship album concept with “At the Foot of the Cross”? And now that seems to be all that exists in the Christian music market… Thankfully City on a Hill made them some money :-)

  4. Loyd Harp

    Matt, I feel you here, but I think to be effective, we’re going to have to be more specific. Name some names. Not in a judgmental way of course, but perhaps we could ‘petition’ a band/artist who is economically ‘successful’ and get them to back an artist or a general fund that could go back into supporting in a grassroots way.

    What say ye?