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Thread: the BIG uns...size does matter

  1. #1


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    Default the BIG uns...size does matter

    Once upon a time at the dawn of the 20th century there was Columbia and Victor records. Columbia and Victor pretty much dominated the recording business until the 1930’s brought in Decca records. Columbia, Decca and Victor, which became RCA, became known as the “Big 3” and continued their dominance of the recording industry.

    After World War II came the post war baby boom, but that wasn’t the only boom, there was also the record boom as the post war era saw the formation of many new record companies like Atlantic, MGM and Mercury (Capital records came along at the beginning of the war in 1942) that gave the BIG guys a run for their money.

    Half way through the 20th century the “Big 3” had become the “Big 6” as Mercury, Capital and MGM joined RCA, Columbia and Decca. Also many other small independent record labels formed during this period were charting with big hit records.

    By the 70’s Mercury and MGM had folded into PolyGram, Decca became MCA, Capital was EMI, WEA had come into being, rivals RCA and CBS were still going strong thus a reconfigured “Big 6” continued on. Between the early 70’s and the early 90’s the “Big 6” gobbled up every independent record label they could swallow including Casablanca, A&M, Chrysalis, Island, Motown, and many others.

    When the 20th century came to a close CBS had become SONY, PolyGram and MCA were now Universal, RCA was BMG, WEA and EMI continued on, now they were the “Big 5” and the implosion had begun.

    According to today’s news reports the “Big 5” are about to implode a little more as SONY and BMG are finalizing arrangements to merge their record companies and EMI and WEA are in talks about doing the same.

    Isn’t that interesting? The 20th century started with the “Big 3” and if all goes according to plan here in the early years of the 21st century it looks like the record industry will be back to a “Big(?) 3” made up of Universal, SONY/BMG and EMI/WEA, albeit a new Big 3, but a “Big 3”just the same.

    Maybe after the war on terrorism comes to an end there will be a new post war record boom in which the independents will again take over.

  2. #2
    Lead ElectroGardener Jupiter 4's Avatar
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    Another thread that peaked my interest--for the wrong reasons!!
    We\'re no longer as thick as thieves

    HOLD FAST

  3. #3


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    that was a sneaky way to draw attention......BAD RIXZTER! BAD!

  4. #4


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    i appreciated it tho...

    i appreciated it tho...
    the music will blind you

  5. #5


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    hey, made me look, too - but i did very much appreciate the article. thanks, rix.

    i'm also of the thinking that this whole thing is cyclic. dont know if the current "war" is going to have much afect on the music industry, but we are definitely in a lull that i think has being going on since the mid-90s. when Nirvana disappeared and NiN had their day in the sun all the "alternative"bands that weren't already established sounded like variations or even blatant rip-offs of bands from the early 90s. blame grunge and industrial rock if you like, so many lousy wannabee-bands came out about this time...

    im hoping for something else to push up from the underground and catch everyone by surprise, putting the record industry on it's ear. some would argue that garage-rock and electroclash did exactly that, but i dont think they made that big of a wave.

    i'm personally waiting for something to topple these tweeny pop bands and coma-inducing heart-throb songwriter guys like John Mayer or whatevahdafuk his name is...

    d
    -= | i.make.sound | =-
    -= | v01d | =-

  6. #6


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    Originally posted by digitalia
    I'm hoping for something else to push up from the underground and catch everyone by surprise, putting the record industry on it's ear. some would argue that garage-rock and electroclash did exactly that, but i dont think they made that big of a wave. i'm personally waiting for something to topple these tweeny pop bands and coma-inducing heart-throb songwriter guys like John Mayer or whatevahdafuk his name is...
    d
    digitalia i'm waiting too. but it's interesting you mentioned electroclash as I was just thinking about that genre yesterday and wondered what happened. I (and many others) thought Electroclash with Fischerspooner, Ladytron, etc was going to be the next big thing and serve the music industry a one two punch by bringing electronic music and independent record labels back to forefront. Two years later you don't hear the word electroclash or even see it in print; it just fizzled out. What happened?

    As for what you said about tweeny pop bands and John Mayer....thank you for that. Would you believe that for awhile I thought there was something to that stuff about as you get older (I'm in my late 30's) music no longer appeals to you. I know better now and I realize it's not me, it's the music scene. I still crave bombastic pop/rock (be it made with guitars or synths), but no one in today's popular music scene is making music that is creative, gripping, aggressive or even interesting its not that the music is bad, it's just dull. I remember during the 70's the oldsters didn't understand punk, new wave and thought it was just horrible noisy junk. That's not how I feel about the Mayers, Timberlakes and Tweennies...Their sound isn't noisy junk, it's just boring, i'd appreciate if they did make some horrible, unintelligible noisy junk and not that dull, emotionless, unaggressive stuff they produce.

    music can't stay in this state forever (i hope). Certainly there must be young angry little Elvis Costellos, moody Ultravoxers and musicians who are just sick of the way things are ready and waiting for their opportunity to bring about a great wave of musical change.

  7. #7


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    i think Electroclash ran its' course.. and now kids are moving on to a more progressive sound.... just like they're supposed to do. I am sure there are people who love EClash still, but its just had its day - it made its comeback two years ago here in nyc. Actually the big thing here now is rock music... not just any rock music, it has to sound like it was written and recorded in like 1973 - much like that new band, Jet.... that style. Then you get the other kids who love synth based music... like Zoot Woman, which is a much more mature version of Eclash.

    music can't stay in this state forever (i hope). Certainly there must be young angry little Elvis Costellos, moody Ultravoxers and musicians who are just sick of the way things are ready and waiting for their opportunity to bring about a great wave of musical change
    i hope so too - something needs to give soon


    on a sidenote:
    I am reading this book "black vinyl, white powder" and the author describes the music industry and acts of the 1990s/2000's the "Lottery Age".... where if all you have is a dream, and no talent, you too can strike it rich, get a record deal, be a flash in the pan and live off the scam. He was referring to british boy bands and the spice girls, who have no real singing talent, but rather a clever promotions dept who can market these acts and make the bands (and themselves) millionaires.

    It's sort of sad to see the how music went from taking creative chances to carefully plotting formulas for bands.

  8. #8


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    i recently saw something on a news show about this software used to chart formulas of songs as in their chord changes and progressions and structure, ie versus, bridge, chorus, yadda yadda. it was quite sad seeing them take the billboard top 40 songs of the last 50 years and coming up with these "clusters" which they would then apply to new music and see how they can "scientifically engineer" it to be more appealing to more people. jeez, just when i thought music couldnt get any more corporate white american...

    there does seem to definitely be a formula for these uberpop groups, like Backdoor - er, street - Boys for example. i believe they were recorded, produced and test-marketted in Scandanavia first before getting big in first Canada, then the US. hearing of how those sort of bands evolved is sometimes interesting, but more often than not it's all about right place, right time (usually in a record exec's pants. cause you're right - they arent that talented and quite frankly i pass about a dozen girls on my 15 minute walk to work each day that look at least as good as J-Lo.

    this sort of music appeals mostly to the type of person that doesnt really like music, but it's just on in their office and they get it stuck in their head. the next thing you know the CD is at the counter at Starbucks as an impulse item.

    i just might not be able to shut up about this... i'll have to come back for more later....

    cheers,
    d
    -= | i.make.sound | =-
    -= | v01d | =-

  9. #9
    Lead ElectroGardener Efreak's Avatar
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    No offense, but the "Backdoor Boys" joke was funny about 500 threads ago.
    Jamie

  10. #10


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    hearing of how those sort of bands evolved is sometimes interesting, but more often than not it's all about right place, right time (usually in a record exec's pants. cause you're right - they arent that talented and quite frankly i pass about a dozen girls on my 15 minute walk to work each day that look at least as good as J-Lo.
    that's really what it boils down to with the big majors... it used to be that you'd put a record out and find your audience for it, now records are formulated for the masses.

    also, you dont have to have talent or know how to write music. all you need these days a working knowlege of how to stay fit, look sexy and shake your ass, then the "pros" (and i use that term loosely) come in and show you how to vocalise, what to wear, what to say on interviews, who will produce your cd, where you will record it, who will shoot your videos, and how to dance.

    these kids are just puppets, other people control them and tell them what to do. all they have to do is show up, the real work is done before they get there. this is what makes me so angry about majors. i wish someone would spark a revolution and just set things back to a more innocent, time where artists got to really express themselves; be what they want, sing what they want to sing and piss off whoever they want.

    you would think by now, the general public would have wisened up to this charade, but they haven't. all i have to say is THANK GOODNESS for indie and smaller artist driven lables. they're what keeping the music business thriving, creative and alive by producing a diverse range of hip and talented acts.

  11. #11
    Lead ElectroGardener Efreak's Avatar
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    Originally posted by ElectroSwank
    all i have to say is THANK GOODNESS for indie and smaller artist driven lables.
    AMEN!
    Jamie

  12. #12


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    Originally posted by ElectroSwank

    also, you dont have to have talent or know how to write music. all you need these days a working knowlege of how to stay fit, look sexy and shake your ass, then the "pros" (and i use that term loosely) come in and show you how to vocalise, what to wear, what to say on interviews, who will produce your cd, where you will record it, who will shoot your videos, and how to dance.
    hey swank i totally agree!!!!! today's music scene is all style and absolutely no substance. I think it was you who also mentioned the public and how they are being deceived and why are they putting up with it. Maybe this is going to sound harsh and cynical but maybe the public is too lazy to seek out good creative thought provoking music and prefers to let the majors and clear channel radio dictate what they listen to. My sister who used to have great taste in music (she was into punk, funk, electronic, etc) she gave me a ride the other day and said "hey i've got this great new CD it's wonderful, you'll love it, give it a listen" she pops it in the car CD player, excited I ask "who is it" and she responds with CLAY AIKEN!!!!! I said stop the car and let me out. Clay Aiken !one of the TV produced singers that Swank talked about. It was the most horrible insipid dribble i'd ever had the misfortune to be stuck in a car with. I ask sis "what's happened to you?" She said she like those American Idol, etc shows and loved Clay and that girl, what's her name?......Kelly and that black guy and white guy (can't remember their names) who were also made on TV. No lie, it was like being in the movie Invasion of the Body Snatchers! This woman looked and sounded like my sister, (who used to tip me to great new music) who used to seek out great edgy, aggressive punk, funk and guitar etched rock now completely immersed in the crap the the major record labels and TV says you (the public) should be listening to. Clay Aiken!!!!! I wondered did we come from the same mother?

  13. #13


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    Maybe this is going to sound harsh and cynical but maybe the public is too lazy to seek out good creative thought provoking music and prefers to let the majors and clear channel radio dictate what they listen to.
    this doesn't sound harsh to me.. but then again, i share your thoughts.

    people dont want to be bothered - they want microwaved food, instant cash back, rapid refunds, free fast downloadable music. ... anything that will make them think they're saving time and money.

    basically, we live in very self centered society who all think they deserve to hit the lottery or are better then the next guy - mainly cos the bling bling on the tv says so. and if you dont have designer shoes, clothes or whatever, then youre an automatic loser and honestly, who wants that?

    so why work at creating and writing music when someone else can do it for you and all you do is just jump in and take the credit.

  14. #14


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    Originally posted by rix harisson
    No lie, it was like being in the movie Invasion of the Body Snatchers!

  15. #15


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    Originally posted by Efreak
    No offense, but the "Backdoor Boys" joke was funny about 500 threads ago.
    Jamie
    none taken, now maybe you can try finding your own image rather than stealing someone else's "Zero" (sorry couldn't resist...)

    rix: i hope the search for your real sister is going ok and pray with you that she returns home safe very soon

    d
    -= | i.make.sound | =-
    -= | v01d | =-

  16. #16
    Lead ElectroGardener Efreak's Avatar
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    Originally posted by digitalia


    none taken, now maybe you can try finding your own image rather than stealing someone else's "Zero" (sorry couldn't resist...)
    I'm lost. Those are my boys from MODyssey. I LOOOOVVVEEE MODyssey!

    Jamie < -- changing his avatar, JUST for "d"

  17. #17


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    I really don`t think that the war was the reason for the larger number of record companies. I think it rather got something to do with economic system. For companies to be able to peform takeovers the must have large profits. And to obtain such large profits you usually need an economic system with low taxes, low regulation and no barriers against downsizing. During the thirthies you saw the end of the libertarian socialdarwinist economic system of the twenties, and got a more "social democratic" economic model. In this model it was extremly difficult to obtain enough cash to buy all the competition. They also had less cash to "bribe" radio and TV and put into large advertisment campains. In the period you mention with more companies also was a time with relatively small differences between rich and poor.

    It`s just natural that more libertarian you`re economic system is, the more it will de dominated by "big business"

  18. #18


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    Originally posted by Efreak


    I'm lost. Those are my boys from MODyssey. I LOOOOVVVEEE MODyssey!

    Jamie < -- changing his avatar, JUST for "d"
    aahhh, sorry dude, i thought that was you. just trying to retaliate by slagging what i thought was your originality (kinda reminded me of Billy Corgan).

    sorry, you can change your avatar back and i will cease and desist the grade-school name calling. it's all in good fun...

    d
    -= | i.make.sound | =-
    -= | v01d | =-

  19. #19


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    Originally posted by steviln
    I really don`t think that the war was the reason for the larger number of record companies. I think it rather got something to do with economic system. It`s just natural that more libertarian you`re economic system is, the more it will be dominated by "big business"
    hey steviln, thanks for the post, but you completely misunderstood what I was saying. I wasn't saying that WWII was the reason of the successful indie record boom and success of the majors in the "post" WW2 period. what i was saying is that after WWII America entered a period of great prosperity. Industry started to boom and vets (and non vets) started moving to the suburbs, going to college and buying cars. during this period of prosperity new indpendent records companies were formed (like Mercury and Atlantic) who became very successful because the youth (and not so youthful) of that time had money to spend on music. the majors were successful for that same reason and in this period the majors began to buy up the indies...as you said "it rather got something to do with economic system"....so true the economic system in the post war baby boom period in America was very good and this period lasted to (or through) the Kennedy years.
    Another great period of prosperity in America was the Clinton years. kids brought a lot of records and pumped a lot of money into the majors (before downloading) during this period, unfortunately this period saw the birth of N'Sync, Brittany and their ilk.

  20. #20


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    Yes, the nineties saw great prosperity for America(and Norway), but it didn`t really cause a boom for independent records? What I found depressing about the nineties indie boom, was that the majors managed to snap up the best commercial prospects, so the minors were left with virtually nothing. It was during the nineties that the big indies was virtually crushed. At least in Europe, it was the eighties that was the big decade for independent labels, with Mute, Factory, Beggars Banquet and Rough Trade having quite a bit of chart success. Then came the majors and spoilt the whole thing.............

    maybe it was the poor times that made the indies flourish? When the majors don`t have all the excess cash to spend on marketing, an opening for smaller labels will be created? It is rather strange the the indie explosion in the UK(and you had labels like I.R.S.) happened in the worst recession since world war 2.

    Another reason may be the monoplization of media power. In the eighties music videos was broadcast from a variety of sources like Sky and Super channel, and the viewer got a more varied pick in videos. The channels played records just not from the majors, but also the big indies, in their mainstream shows. Then came MTV and changed all that. Well, in the beginning MTV actually were quite "indie friendly", but it changed during the early eighties. Their show "120 minutes" played almost only indie stuff, while their new so-called "alternative shows" just put out all that major semi-indie crap.

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