Music and My Failed Prediction

Since I was a teenager, I would look at the world around me and make predictions.

My predictions were not psychic acts, or a product of mental mysticism. It was just a case of looking at something and telling where it was going.

I predicted many things over the course of my life that ended up panning out precisely in the way that I had seen in my thoughts. Sometimes it was small things, like how my high school years would turn out. Other times, it was big things.

The big things included the success of the internet, social networking, and cashless transactions. Also included in this list was my 90s prediction on how music would be sold, acquired, and shared.


THERE WERE SOME FAILURES
Before I get into my big failure, there were a few failures that I experienced. One prime example is that I failed to see how horrific, negative, and destructive social networking would end up becoming.

Even from 2005-2008, when I worked at MySpace, I did not see it coming. There were no clear signs of it, if you ask me. Yes, I had to deal with some trolls, and most of them were rather violent people. But people like them were the outlier; the exception to the rule.

This is an example of what I had to deal with. Yes, the authorities paid him a visit. Discourse like this has become the norm among older grown adults who truly should know better. Yes, an Autistic man just told neurotypical men and women to grow up.
How low we have sunken.

But forget about this, because today I want to talk about my BIG failure. This is a failure that should NOT have happened. It’s something I should have seen. This big failure can be broken down into smaller failures.

So buckle in, as we set sail on a sea of failure!


Me, at 18 months, drumming on a trash can. Since this point of time in my life, music has held a great deal of importance.

THE FUTURE OF THE MUSIC INDUSTRY
Yes, the future of music, the ONE area that was MOST important to me, my life, and my potential livelihood, was something that I was not able to predict.

I do have an idea of why I failed to have predictions regarding the music industry. I’m saving that for the end. Let’s detail some of those areas where either I had no prediction, or my prediction failed miserably.


FAILURE: THE MUSIC CAREER OF MADONNA
When Madonna showed up on MTV in the 1980s, I had my skepticism firing on all cylinders. My prediction was that she and her career were going to be a flash in the pan.

This was because of a few factors. For one, she didn’t write her own songs. I had always felt that, with few exceptions, artists who write their own songs tend to have more success.

Plus, she was using sex to sell her music, which was something I found to be cheap and pointless. NEVER in my life have I said, “Oh boy, she’s hot! I bet she can sing.” Nope. That never crossed my mind, because I did not associate looks with sounds.

I guess MTV did that kinda well, although there’s a reason why they don’t do it anymore.


FAILURE: GLAM/HAIR METAL
This is one that I sort of saw coming. I didn’t pay it much mind at first. I started caring about it when I had moved to LA in 1986, and was pursuing my music career, only to find out that I wasn’t getting gigs because I didn’t have big hair and wasn’t good looking.

I might have taken it more seriously, had I read about Metallica’s 1985 attempts to get big in LA. They left LA declaring that nobody likes them.

Yea, that should have been a BIG deal to me. But I did not hear about that until decades later.

But I saw hair metal as a joke. Today, it is treated as a joke by bands like Steel Panther, and they make big money from being the punch line.


FAILURE: SEX NOT SELLING IN THE 90s
By the mid-90s, I figured that sex would sell. So when I wrote and recorded an album for a Filipina exotic dancer and trash tabloid entertainer, I just went with it when she suggested herself on the cover, wearing one of her dance costumes.

This scan has WAY too much JPEG because it wasn’t a great quality photo to begin with. I found this cover to be egotistical and tacky. Maybe I was right in that regard, but I was clearly wrong in other aspects.

Not that I had a say in any of it. I could have said something, gotten rejected, and then considered myself to have a positive prediction. But I just rolled with it because I figured it would work.

It did not. For some reason, NOBODY looked at her and wondered what her singing voice sounded like.

Why not?

I suppose it’s a case of the public taste changing. I’d previously discounted this [Madonna] notion that sex sells. When it did, I decided to go with it. When I went with it, then it didn’t work.

It’s probably working again, given the vast number of untalented young women with looks. The music industry has become the underage pervert industry.

Grunge killed the glam/hair metal acts, replacing them with uncombed hair, flannel t-shirs, grandma’s sweater, and a general not caring. I would have LOVED to have been a part of Grunge; however, by the time it showed up, I was already too old.


FAILURE: THE ULTIMATE DEATH OF THE MUSIC INDUSTRY
This was something that I did not see when I was young, and continued to not see until it started to happen. I thought, at the very least, that the songwriters and musicians who made these record executives rich would be well cared for and would have solid careers.

Nope. I was wrong.

Billy Corgan was told that Smashing Pumpkins was a failed project, as they encouraged him to stab his bandmates in the back so that he could own the whole thing. They wanted him to own it all, so they would only have one person to mess with when it was time to take what they wanted.

To be fair, this isn’t just music. People all over the world are doing phenomenal work, only to have this work stolen from them by corporate interests.

FAILURE: STREAMING SERVICES
I failed to predict the model where streaming services took more money from sales than the artists themselves.

Here are what some of the streaming services pay out per stream:

Spotify: $0.00437
Apple Music: $0.00783
Amazon Music: $0.00402

In the old days, if you sold one million singles, it generated one million dollars, and the artist would get a chunk of it. Even if they got 10%, best case, they would be paid $100,000.

Today, if an artist has 1,000,000 streams on Spotify, they can expect a healthy check of $4,366. If there are other band members and songwriters, then they get a cut of this.


FAILURE: SOCIETY DOES NOT CARE ABOUT MUSIC
This was partially on me, thanks to the great value that I applied to music, as it functions in my life. I assumed that all people loved music cared about it, and so on.

Wrong.

American society, in particular, does not care about art or music very much. It’s something that the wealthy broker, or the broke practice on the streets. The middle ground has gotten smaller over the decades.

There is a built-in function that misguides thoughts away from this prediction, which is what occurs when an artist dies. Suppose Paul McCartney died tomorrow. People would be crying, talking about how great he was, and so on. But the thing is, they didn’t care one way or another when he was alive.


FAILURE: FANS CRUEL TOWARD ARTISTS
This could be included in my failure to predict that social networking would become so hateful and aggressive.

When Edward Van Halen died, what did many people in the public do?

They started attacking his son, Wolfgang. They also attack Edward, as well as his mother, Valerie. These attacks are mean-spirited, cruel, relentless, and can’t be more lacking in empathy and Humanity.

He’s being strong and standing up to them. Maybe I’m crazy, but it feels weird and pathetic to see grown adults attack a young man after his father dies, and then attacking his mother for good measure before they attack him directly.

WHY? What is wrong with people? What is wrong with society?

I remember when Keith Emerson was online while preparing for a tour. He was suffering some pain, probably neuropathy, and would have another keyboard player along with him to fill in the gaps.

He was probably touring because he desperately needed the money, because he hadn’t really had success beyond the 1970s.

People in the forums encouraged him to commit suicide. So that’s precisely what he did. You can read about this tragedy HERE. So far as I am concerned, the horrible behavior of people online contributed to this. Had the internet not existed, then he would not have known about this. Maybe people would have been more kind.

Being anonymous gives people a feeling of superiority, and it allows them to engage in horrible behavior.


FAILURE: MY CURRENT LIFE
I never predicted that I would be in my late 50s, not be a pro musician, and that I’d be living in Oregon. I didn’t predict that it would be so difficult for me to find a job, during a time when employers are complaining about a worker shortage. That’s how little I matter, and I didn’t predict that, either [I did suspect it].

I’m not depressed about it. Sure, it’s sad. The whole world is sad. America has become a pathetic sewer of angry, uneducated paranoia, with people splintered into dozens upon dozens of sects and cults, so they can believe whatever conveniently aligns with their tribal affiliation.

It is VERY disappointing. For most of my life, people have told me that I need to “grow up,” because drumming in a band and being this into music at my age is not “mature” or healthy. Now, here I am, behaving by far more maturely than people who are 20 years older than me. I did NOT see that coming, either.

And when I look back, a good deal of this pathetic world we have today was just getting started in the 1980s. “Greed is good” was a warning, not a guiding light.


WHY DID I MISS MY OWN MUSIC INDUSTRY PREDICTIONS?
I missed these predictions, and did not see them, for the same reason that I made other mistakes in the past. I wanted it to happen so badly that I ignored all red flags and pushed onward.

After all, I was not one to give up.


IN THE END [AND ANOTHER MUSIC PREDICTION]
There is not much left for me to predict. We are living in End-Stage Capitalism, which is a corrupt system where the wealthy redistribute the wealth in their direction, while many people who aren’t even getting paid enough to pay their rent mindlessly fight for the rights of the wealthy, because they believe that THEY will be wealthy [somehow] in the future, and they want the rules in their favor when they join the ranks. That won’t happen.

Climate Change and Global Warming are already impacting the weather in a way where many places will become uninhabitable. “Heat Refugees” will be the new thing, where people flee areas that kill off anyone who lives there with “wet bulb” temperatures.

There will be wars over food and water. Precipitation and evaporation are both more extreme, leaving us open to droughts, wildfires, and mudslides.

Many music venues were killed off by the pandemic.

Venues will opt for DJs or music streaming, or possibly even solo performers, over the expense of hiring bands.

CDs are mostly dead, and will continue a slow death. Only old bands that are out-of-touch will continue to engage in the production and distribution of CDs.

Songwriting will end up being relegated to producers, as they do double-duty [and more] for less pay. Don’t feel badly for the producers. They make more money than musicians and their situation is relatively more secure.

If someone is going to have ANY success at all with music, then it will first start in a local, tribal sense. The people who live near you will be your primary line of support.

A secondary line of support might be downloads, at least for a while. Smartphones are losing their ability to have significant amounts of storage, thanks to the removal of SDCard slots. This will force streaming as the secondary source of income. Given the numbers, I think that it is way too generous to refer to that as “income.”

If you are a solo performer who has a sound that is in-demand, and you live in the right area, and you play at the right places, and you work tirelessly at it without the distraction of a day job, after a few years you might be able to earn enough to pay half of your rent. Maybe.

You might be able to have a hit on YouTube, if you make the right video with the right music at the right time. When you get those millions upon millions of views, you can dream about becoming a thousandaire who gets caught up on his rent and can pay it for the next few months after that.

What is MY future with music?

I play music in my office. I might write or record something on occasion, and I do it for me. Making music makes me happy, even if I cannot earn a living with it. I get together with a few guys for a casual jam, so music is also a social instrument for me.

But, so far as the music industry itself is concerned, it has no future. If you didn’t get rich before, then you’re most definitely not getting one red cent now.


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Published by DrumWild

Writing about drums, music, and philosophy.

One thought on “Music and My Failed Prediction

  1. Another heavy post that I’ll need to reread a couple times to digest. You mentioned “Venues will opt for DJs or music streaming, or possibly even solo performers, over the expense of hiring bands.” That started here in the late ’80s, with local drummers being replaced by Japanese guys. Strangely enough, all these Japanese drummers had the surname “Roland.” This downward spiral continued until clubs were making do with either a DJ; or a solo sequencer operator (I would not call them keyboard players) and maybe one or two barely-dressed female “singers.” And people were dancing to this. Always wondered how they could have such a good time without live musicians onstage. Oh yes, speaking of social networking, I did have an enjoyable few years on ICQ; before it finally bit the dust. In fact, that’s where I first met a totally cool dude known as “Bassman Dan.”

    Liked by 2 people

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