Thursday, July 3, 2003

Dear music industry,
low quality = low demand


Commentary

By Mandy Jenkins
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Memo

TO: Music Industry Executives

RE: The truth

I've heard the music industry is upset. You say a bunch of downloading kids are stealing your money and you're gonna take their shoplifting butts to court. Record sales are down and have been for a few years. You blame this on music pirates; I think you're missing the point.

This is all your fault.

People aren't buying because the music industry itself is faulted. First of all, CDs are too expensive for Gen X-ers and teens to buy. They will buy only the music of artists they really have loyalty to - otherwise, it's easier to download a single hit than slap down $20 for a whole CD of crap.

That's right, I said it. The music industry sucks right now and your audience knows it. You aren't putting out music that is worth the cost of a CD.

Your problem is that as soon as one band or singer gets big, you go right out and find 10 more who sound exactly like them and slap together a CD with one or two good songs in the bunch. The result? Low-quality music that all sounds alike and tons of one-hit wonders on the airwaves.

Who can tell the difference between Avril Lavigne, Michelle Branch or Vanessa Carlton? They were created to imitate each other. Why would I buy each of their CDs, when I could download "Sk8r Boi" and "Game of Love" and be done with it?

Same thing goes for Nickelback, Staind, Puddle of Mudd and all of those bands that were created to be the "new" Creed (a rip-off of Pearl Jam, anyway). And the emo/wannabe punk bands like All-American Rejects, Simple Plan and Good Charlotte? They all sound the same.

The first bit of evidence: the album sales top 10. The long-lasting sales on the charts go to groundbreaking new artists (Norah Jones, 50 Cent) or perennial favorites with proven talent (Metallica, Steely Dan, Radiohead). Those one-hit wonder bands don't stick around for long and it isn't because of downloaders - it's because they aren't that good.

The second bit of evidence: I'll bet almost all online file-traders are between 15 and 30; however, they are not the only people who listen to music. What about everyone else; why aren't they buying music?

My mom couldn't download a music file if her life depended on it, but you aren't going to catch her at a record store, either. Music isn't good enough to get her to pay that much for anything less than a "greatest hits" CD - and most of today's artists will never see one of those.

Get my point? As long as the music industry continues to charge more for putting out garbage, your sales will decline. It doesn't matter how many college kids with T1 lines you find to sue - you will still lose in the end.

This isn't a question of ethics and it isn't a statement of legality; it is a measure of quality - and you aren't delivering anymore.

E-mail mjenkins@enquirer.com




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