Politics and Whatnot

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NPR explains why corporate music sucks

How Much Does It Cost To Make A Hit Song? : Planet Money : NPR.

If you’re, say, a 14-year-old girl who listens to pop music, you probably have some inaccurate assumptions about how songs are made.  You’d probably imagine that songs are written by the pop artists themselves.  You’d think that Rihanna’s music is her own expression, not just a song written by someone else that she’s lending her voice to.  If you were particularly knowledgeable, you might think that her songs are carefully written by a single songwriter.

But you’d still be wrong.   Rihanna doesn’t have one or two songwriters that write songs carefully in a simple studio somewhere.  Instead, her album Loud had a “camp” where at least 40 songwriters in 10 studios got together to churn out lyrics to tracks put together by some producer somewhere.   The lyrics for the song “Man Down”. apparently, were written in 12 minutes.  The thinking is “You got all the best people, you’re gonna make the best records,” even if it only takes 12 minutes per song.  So you get brilliant lyrics from the “best people” like:

Rum pa pa pum
Rum pa pa pum
Rum pa pa pum
Me say wah man down (A weh me say)
Rum pa pa pum
Rum pa pa pum
Rum pa pa pum
When me went downtown

Yeah, no wonder all the greatest stories in history were written by one, rather than 40 people.  Maybe creativity isn’t something to be expected from  a giant committee.

But who cares about lyrics?  Well fine, but that’s not the worst part.  The worst part is how songs get played on the radio.  In fact, it looks like the vast majority of money spent on a song is put into “roll out” which includes advertising and, apparently, “treating the radio guys nice”.  What does that mean?  One former BET programmer claims he received an envelope with $40,000 cash.  Current programmers say that doesn’t happen anymore (bullshit).   Whatever the means used is, however, its clear that labels spend a ton of money bribing programmers – if not with cash, then fancy dinners.

In other words, the whole thing is just a big corrupt machine.  The music is churned out of a factory at mass-production speed.  No effort is put into it.  Of course, no effort needs to be put into it, because what gets played on the radio isn’t what’s good, it’s what’s been paid for.  And if it’s on the radio, people will buy it, so the assumption goes.

Now I’m all for capitalism, but there are only so many channels on the radio that we have to listen to on my way to work in the morning.  If it’s filled with bribery and corruption that forces us to listen to mass-produced shit, isn’t that a problem?   Maybe it’s time for the FCC to pass some regulations that are worth enforcing.

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5 responses to “NPR explains why corporate music sucks

  1. Anonymous July 7, 2017 at 7:14 pm

    Nice post

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