Rick Wakeman’s Caped Crusades: So You’ve Made A Record… …(So Bloody What?)!
WHEN I WAS a lad, the music business was fairly straightforward . As an aspiring musician, you played with whatever bands would have you and there you learned about yourself, your music and your dreams.
Most young muso’s dream was to make a record. But you had to reach a certain standard, because if a record company was going to sign you, they weren’t going to waste money on total rubbish. As an aspiring musician or band you certainly couldn’t just “make a record” yourself or afford to press up a few LPs to hand around to your mates .
So you made a demo on your cassette player and sent it to A&R guys at various labels who would make a decision on your music. It was also important that you played live so they could see you if they thought you were any good.
Therefore, to eventually get a recording contract was indeed something special. It was a true stepping-stone.
Then there were the charts. Just two – the singles chart and the LP chart. These were the benchmark of how well, (or not so well), your record was selling and gave insights into the state of the music industry and changing tastes.
Now what have we got ?
Anyone can produce a CD in their bedroom or toilet. (Some of the stuff I’ve been sent over the last few years has undoubtedly been made in the latter). They arrive on my desk with beautifully produced covers. They look the business. You play them and they are anything but.
I do get some half-decent stuff occasionally which I play on my Planet Rock show, but I have to sift through so much crap to find it, so what chance have record companies got ? They must receive thousands of potential CD beer mats and they can’t listen to them all. Then there’s the millions of websites – MySpace, MyMusic, YouTube, Someone Else’s Bloody Tube… there should be a “My Arse” site. How can anyone wade through it all and find anything?
As for the charts, now there are thousands, guaranteeing every artist a Top Ten success somewhere. (I’m currently in the Top 10 of 73 different charts. That I started 72 of them myself is of no consequence).
Why isn’t there a “Total Load Of Crap” chart ?
It used to mean something when a band made a “professional recording”. Today it means nothing. We don’t have benchmarks or stepping-stones anymore and we should. It’s all part of the musical ladder and neverending apprenticeship course .
“Grumpy and sad old git,” I hear many of you cry.
Too bloody right I am!
Rick is a regular columnist for Prog
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