Oct 012003
 
Authors: Krystina Sletvold

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

years.”

The music industry is a battlefield where musicians just want to

get in the spotlight and make money, which often overshadows

valuable music.

“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

produce.”

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

such talents.

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

performances.

“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,”

Berendt said.

Musicians depend on the trends of the time. Trends change so

quickly that artists have to be able to adapt or they become a

thing

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

find out.

“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

contracts.

“When people are given a chance like that they can really make

it happen, but they really don’t have a loyal following,” Pumphrey

said.

The longevity of artists that grew from these shows is hard to

determine.

“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

years.

“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

the

 

 

 

 

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