Decline and Fool
by Richard Johnson
It is rare I even pretend to give a fuck, but the compulsion to get certain things off my battered old chest simply becomes too overbearing sometimes. The music industry, from the perspective of somebody still unwittingly snagged in one of its dingiest and most forgotten corners in 2016, has long been a shambles where the scent of dying embers can be found in almost every direction. Anybody entering it expecting to live the life of their own heroes or those very few who’ve still managed to miraculously make it must be incredibly naive. There’s nothing in the least wrong with having hopes, dreams and aspirations (heck, I’ve enough of them myself still, even at my rather more, ahem, ‘autumnal’ age), but the odds against anybody even stepping onto the first rung of the ladder to this particular snakepit are presently higher than ever. The only way to do it is to keep everything truly independent and as in-house as possible, whilst applying a strong work ethic (meaning being prepared to not only work hard at the releases and everything attached but also playing live to the point of a nervous breakdown in order to get your name ‘out there’). Given just how difficult all that is as well, I’d contend you have to be, in equal measure, slightly insane and absolutely bursting with a conviction in what you’re doing. This is just one of several reasons why I actively discourage people from getting involved, tho’ next to how attractive this world still appears to most my words, as worthless as they are in the first place, remain destined to only go unheeded. Regardless, if driven enough, it’s probably a riper time than ever before to turn to the do-it-yourselfers as some kinda loose model. If music has any future, it continues to remain in this space. A space itself that’s more important than ever before. A space that clearly sprang in the late 1960s, grew far wider during the late ’70s and early-to-mid ’80s, and has remained relevant ever since.
Far be it for me to give any kind of advice, either. I abhor ‘advice’ as much as the next person. Rather, I can see what has been happening for the past decade or more. I can, equally, feel it. The 1960s might have helped radicalise, or politicise, music, and what happened in the mid-to-late ’70s might have helped disrupt the burgeoning complacency of many of those involved. The internet’s development during the past couple of decades has once again turned things upside-down and become a genuine threat to those who, until recently, were running almost the entire show. However, in a culture brimming ever more with unrealistic aspirations, I’d contend the internet also fosters far more complacency (on all levels) than its image suspends.
To survive now, one must not only utilise all the means available but also go beyond them, or at least attempt to. And, indeed, this is merely to survive.
I might well remain critical of all those involved in music (artistically and otherwise), but there’s a good reason for this. And here I am back at a point I craftily snuck into the very start of this…