NME recently published an article discussing Diplo’s comments on Coachella “having a hard time booking headliners”.
Diplo is quoted as saying “We kind of left the era of great superhero acts, like the Red Hot Chili Peppers or Daft Punk”. The article goes on to discuss more great acts that were booked in the past and the mediocre acts being booked today in a shallow and naïve way. It’s as if the author Liberty Dunworth couldn’t be bothered to do any research into the root cause of the problem, has no understanding of the cause, or just doesn’t care enough to communicate it to the NME readership.
The author then dives in head first in an attempt to re-surface a long dead and meaningless feud between Beyoncé and Diplo. In the words of Mad Max, “That’s bait”. This is just lazy blogging. I won’t even give it the honor of calling it journalism.
There is a reason we don’t have “superhero’ bands anymore, and it is really simple. I can sum it up in one word. Economics!
The ‘tech bro’ invasion and takeover of the music industry that started in the 1990’s with Sean Parker (founder of Napster) and continues today with the CEO of Spotify Daniel Ek, has now come home to roost. They trained multiple generations of music fans to expect to not have to pay for music, and in the case of Daniel, even used the artists own earnings to fight against paying fair royalty rates to the creators of the very product that he profits from.
The result? You get what you pay for. Refuse to pay a living wage to the songwriters that spend hundreds of hours interpreting their personal pain and experiences into emotionally relatable music for the masses to fall in love to, break up to, survive trauma to, and you will lose all the masters in the field. All you are left with are part time hobbyists, and kids who come from family money, who were never really challenged enough in life to have any real wisdom or message to share. We are now reaping the seeds of mediocrity and greed, and most listeners don’t know any better.
Without a living wage, even a working class living wage, you can’t have true musicians able to dedicate every waking hour to becoming masters of their craft. You will never get another Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Daft Punk, Tool, U2, David Bowie, Depeche Mode, or whatever amazing genre defining band you are into.
It is shameful that people and publications have just accepted this attack on the contributions that artists bring to our lives. Imagine your favorite movies and TV shows with no musical soundtrack. Imagine not being able to listen to your favorite playlists while you work. Imagine never hearing your favorite songs while on a road trip, or working out. Imagine having to go through brutal heartbreak without your favorite band to wrap a warm blanket of sound around your heart, put the pieces back together, and let you know it will be ok.
Musicians have been there for you. At your weddings and funerals, made your worst days survivable, bled and cried with you and for you. The least you can do is pay them enough to focus on continuing to make your world and life a better place.
The only other option is to continue to ignore the problem, and let music devolve into a repetitive cloned AI generated celebration of mediocrity, and then wonder where all the good music went.
The fact that NME refuses to address this fundamental fact in the article is as bad as not calling an ambulance as you watch another human being bleed out on the sidewalk in front of you.
What can you do to change this? Buy your favorite musicians vinyl, CD’s, merchandise, and yes, continue to stream them, as even 0.003 cents per stream is better than nothing. Bandcamp is also a great solution, but not all artists are on there. But most important, teach everyone you know that music is valuable, important to our culture, and quality of life. These people who pull magic out of thin air and construct it into emotional melodic structures that can change the way you feel about an entire day deserve to be paid a fair wage and respected for their labor.