Where are they now?
Kris Kross. LFO. New Edition. Vanilla Ice.
Over the past years, the music industry quickly put together an
artist or group that experienced a momentary high, but rapidly fell
short of anything substantial.
“Pop music comes and goes every year and many pop artists never
return, but it’s important that they are around,” said D.J. Fisher,
president of Day by Day Entertainment. “Someone needs to make music
for the clubs, house parties, and high school proms.”
However, with pop artists coming and going, the music industry
appears to have plummeted away from quality and shifted toward
quantity. In many cases they have sold out to “get-rich-quick”
music, which is short lived.
“Longevity is something most bands don’t understand or even
strive for anymore,” said Peter Ore, booking agent for Aggie
Theatre. “It just seems like they try and cash in on quick success
and make a quick buck right now. To me, when you say longevity, I
think of U2 or Madonna, and even smaller bands like Rancid, who
have been doing it for 10 to 20 years. New bands come and go so
quickly that longevity today could mean you’ve been together five
The music industry is a battlefield where musicians just want to
get in the spotlight and make money, which often overshadows
“The quality of music [in past years] has definitely declined,”
said Tyson Pumphrey, aka Othello, a member of hip-hop group
Lightheaded. “Artists, first, need to define what they want to
do-make a bold statement of the kind of music they want to
The role of defining music has escaped the artists’ hands and
has been placed into the hands of producers and record labels.
“Record labels try to make artist into stars everyday but it
doesn’t work out for the long run if they don’t understand how this
business works and what it takes to be a great artist,” Fisher
said. “I see many artists fall victim to not understanding what it
takes to sell records and that’s why there are only a handful of
superstars and plenty of ‘where-are-they-now’ artists,”
Artists covering the Billboard Charts in recent years are not
necessarily extraordinarily talented; rather they are more or less
a pretty face and a decent voice. There are always exceptions to
the rule, such as Christina Aguilera, Beyonce Knowles, and Justin
Timberlake. Theses artist have proven their aptitude to entertain
with their incredible voices and talent. Not all artists possess
Britney Spears has been a controversial artists since she first
exposed her midriff in the video “…[Hit Me] Baby One More Time.”
She is known for showing too much skin and lip sinking during live
“Britney Spears is a milestone in pop culture that won’t be
forgotten, but she won’t be as enjoyable in the future,” said Abby
Berendt, KCSU Music Director.
As a music director, Berendt has seen many artists come and go.
The music industry has created a formula where the sole purpose is
to sell a song or specific image.
“The formula works, but I think we are at a point where things
are starting to change-people are looking for something new,”
Musicians depend on the trends of the time. Trends change so
quickly that artists have to be able to adapt or they become a
of the past. With the advancement of technology, any artist or
group can tweak their sound to produce one good pop song.
Longevity comes back to the basic fundamentals of music. If an
artist cannot truly sing or play their instrument, listeners will
“Artists really have to know their music, know their
instruments, even if it is just their voice,” Berendt said.
Artists such as Johnny Cash, U2, Bob Dylan, and the Roots have
managed to maintain a high-level of success by adapting and
maturing with their audience. While these artists may not always be
at the top of mainstream charts, they still remain popular and
still produce substantial music.
The music business is so adamant about attracting a crowd and
making money that they have created shows like MTV’s “Making the
Band” and “American Idol” to literally give away record
“When people are given a chance like that they can really make
it happen, but they really don’t have a loyal following,” Pumphrey
The longevity of artists that grew from these shows is hard to
“American Idol is a get rich quick show, and they-Kelly
Clarkson-may have longevity, but they pick one every year, so it’s
hard to say,” Berendt said.
The artists on these talent shows have not experienced the
blood, sweat and tears like many musicians who have been around for
“Most musicians don’t understand that you’ve got to build a
strong, loyal following. That takes time, and in this day and age,
no one wants to work for sustained success, it’s all about right
now,” Ore said.
The music industry is in the business of entertaining, so it is
expected that a specific image is to be sold to listeners. However,
making money often overshadows quality music and music with
meaningful lyrics and significant sounds.
At times, quality music has been replaced by a string of words
that hold little meaning and are often written by other people, not
the artist themselves.
“When someone comes up with something new and it gets popular
there are 10,000 copy cats right behind them trying to cash-in on
the new-found ‘cool’ thing,” said Ore.
Ultimately, longevity of an artist comes down to genuine talent,
their ability to change with the times and staying focused on