I promised my friend I would write this. My friend sent me a link to something incredible, yesterday. This is the link I was sent: http://bushytunes.bandcamp.com/
“Looks innocuous enough”, I thought. Little did I realise that I was about to venture into a private world so amazing and astounding that it would make me question my abilities as a music producer.
Bushy (that’s all I know this artist as) got it into his head that he should release a tune a day, for a whole year. And he did. The astonishing thing, though, is that if you take a long listen (I must have listened to three dozen of the 365 songs on offer), a couple of things strike you as obvious:
1) These songs are highly original, quirky and often humorous
2) They are performed beautifully, with some exceptional guitar performances
3) The song writing is very good
4) There are melodies galore
5) The mixing and mastering is of professional quality
6) The later songs impart more emotion than the earlier ones
7) There is never a dull moment
8) The range and diversity of the song styles is amazing
9) The songs are delivered with wit, openness and a gentle Englishness
10) These songs are the work of just one person!
This highly listenable collection was, in my view, a monumental achievement. A real marathon. However, this is the hard to take part – Bushy stopped making music entirely when the feat was accomplished, vowing to stop for good. Nooooo!!!!!!!!!!
So, dear readers, here is an artist with obvious and demonstrable talent, an accomplished singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and recording engineer, who clearly has been roundly overlooked by the music industry in all of its forms, but who produces works of such exquisite entertainment value and heart. How can this be? How can somebody capable of writing, recording, mixing and mastering a song every day not be snapped up by the nearest record company? Why is there no massive fan base and audience clamouring for more? What is wrong with this picture?
I know I don’t have ability to match his output, either in quality or quantity and I certainly doubt I could maintain the consistency. All of the songs I listened to had a certain something, but not the same something, each time. They were all touching, in one way or another. I had my favourites and some were better than others, to my taste, but it was all damned good. I mean that. Damned good.
Today, a young friend introduced me to FantomenK. https://www.youtube.com/user/FantomenK Here is another artist that is virtually anonymous, putting out music of undeniable originality and quality, that was discovered by me only through word of mouth and who my friend had discovered by watching YouTube videos of people that goof around and play computer games. This artist apparently writes game music and it appears in some of the games that this pair of YouTubers was demonstrating. What an unlikely route to find an audience!
My friend Lisa writes songs all the time. She can’t help it. Her soul insists that they surface. She records them as demos, quite quickly, I think using her iPhone. The songs are always tender, loaded with feeling and Lisa sings like an angel. You can find Lisa’s work here: https://soundcloud.com/lisavonh
Lisa also writes collaboratively and performs with other artists. She’s prolific. Why hasn’t everybody heard of her? Why isn’t she dead famous? I don’t get it.
My sixteen year old son is constantly finding new bands, again putting out quality work, through YouTube. Again, he watches gamers demonstrating games, who give pointers to these artists. Artists like Breaking Benjamin, Sick Puppies, Daughtry, Dead Confederate, Disturbed, Finger Eleven, Godsmack, Manowar, Renegade Five, Scarlett Seven, Skillet, Sum 41, The Wanted, We Are the Fallen, The Contagious. Glorious music. It’s everywhere. I bet you haven’t heard of half of these bands. They’re certainly not household names. But why? What’s gone wrong? Here are some artists that we should have heard about in more ways than via YouTube, but we don’t.
Several of my friends and acquaintances have released CDs. I can’t even list them all (The Vandabelles, Theoretical Girl, Morgan Visconti, Jessica Lee Morgan, The Aristocrats, Guthrie Govan, Natalie McCool, Vows). Lots of my friends work as full time composers. However, I think a huge number of these brilliant musicians have to make ends meet through other jobs. In other words, they have to make their music, their brilliant, rich, exciting, fresh, entertaining music, in the gaps between working for a living. They just don’t get the recognition or the huge audiences they ought to get. I don’t understand. It cannot be because these artists fail to meet the quality bar. All of them have produced highly listenable, original and refreshing albums of the finest quality. Perhaps all they lack is publicity.
It seems very wrong that these artists, all of whom make a genuine positive contribution, are so discouraged, disparaged and so under-rewarded for their talents and application. It isn’t fair. I can’t believe the explanation is music theft, through piracy. I might believe that music is so abundant and nearly free that it is hard to make a living, through making music. I know that there is a music industry, that it makes more money (gross) than ever before and that it seems to be growing, but I am equally sure that the artists are not getting the highest cut. Some artists get barely anything. Others have to subsidise their music from their day job earnings.
How do we change this around? How do we connect artists directly to appreciative fans and consumers, who would pay fairly for the music made? How do we get the names of these brilliant, unsung heroes of music production into the minds of more people? The artists are creating the works. They’re doing their part. Where is it going wrong?
I think that is the great challenge for the music industry of the 21st century.