“Go ahead and talk about the scene in general,” my editors said. “The cover story is about a bunch of shows we hit, so another play-by-play this week might be redundant.”
The scene. In general. OK, so if I haven’t told you already, major labels are pretty much dead whales rotting on the beach, and there’s a huge disconnect between the kind of acts those labels are signing and foisting and what’s happening at the local level—outside the karaoke bars, that is. Those brilliant new local bands you’re stumbling across as you drink your way across the Midtown grid on Saturday night? Forget it. That barely pubescent celebrity sibling who wants to be famous so bad she can taste it? Now you’re talking major- label talent.
On top of that, CDs themselves may be dead. Vinyl is rumored to be making a comeback, which certainly will please the octogenarian couple from Oregon I was hanging out with this past weekend, who had a fine stash of Julie London LPs along with some choice Gordon Lightfoot sides.
But what’s really going on is that NASA scientists have figured out how to beam a laser into your hippocampus, read your top-50 favorite tunes, and then formulate a playlist based on what you’re inclined to love. This playlist, with tracks gleaned from every artist who’s making a record anywhere, even in Rio Linda, will be beamed directly into your brain by your cell-phone provider, using technologies appropriated from little gray aliens who live inside Mount Shasta.
This, of course, will finish off iTunes, CDs and the stores that sell CDs, and will most likely sound the death knell for major record labels.
Knowing about this impending death of said majors, I was surprised to read in a certain local paper about a new major label, a label owned by the same family that holds the local NBA franchise.
Now, if I had more money than God, as the Maloofs appear to have, I’d blow big money on some crazy things, too. I might build a skyline-dominating office-tower replica of a Moscow “Stalin’s wedding cake” building in downtown Sacramento, and it would have several first-rate performance spaces on the ground floor, along with a 24-hour Indian food kitchen and free parking. I’d launch a record label, and I’d use my fortune to sign and promote a few of this town’s brilliant acts.
I probably wouldn’t sign Rev Theory, a to-these-ears unremarkable-sounding band whose visual cues appear to have been appropriated from the Massengill school of rock style. And I most certainly would not sign Ali Lohan, the 14-year-old sister of troubled post-teen actress-celebutard Lindsay Lohan, as the marquee act of my label, as Maloof Music, the joint venture between the Maloofs and Universal Music’s Interscope Records division, has done. Nor would I produce a “reality” show like the E! network’s Living Lohan, essentially a commercial for Ali Lohan’s recording career, as Maloof TV, the sister media company to Maloof Music, has done.
Of course, Lohan the Younger may be the future of popular music. She may be a singer of uncommon depth, a performer who will dominate pop music for the next decade. But I wouldn’t bet the house on that happening, as they say in the casino trade.
Alas, I’m not Jimmy the Greek, but I’d guess the age of watching drunken celebrities pile out of Escalades to disappear behind velvet ropes into parties we only get to hear about from breathless gossip columnists, while idiot swarms of paparazzi capture their entrances and exits, is just about played out. Done.
Prediction: Kings move to Las Vegas, while good music stays here.