So goes music

Continuing the theme of my previous post, I offer this quote from Alex Lifeson, of Rush. In a 2006 interview with Matt Blackett, Alex is asked, “Are there any bands out now that you think can last 30 years?” He replies:

I don’t know if they’ll get a chance. Based on talent, there are bands that probably could, but the way the record companies work is completely different than it was 30 years ago. Record companies have become spectators, rather than developers. Nowadays, you have to come in with a completed record and it’s released on spec. If it instantly does okay, you might get a deal. If it doesn’t, you’ll get dropped.

When we got our deal in ’74, it was for five records. We were a young, unknown band. The record company looked at it like, “Let them work their stuff out for the first couple of records, and, hopefully, when the third record hits and is successful, then we’ve got two more records to capitalize on that success.” Opportunities like ours just don’t seem to be around anymore.

Alex Lifeson
Guitar Player, March 2006

This reminds me very much of Kate Bush. EMI signed her to a contract, and then had her finish high school. After she finished school, she used her advance to take interpretive dance classes. Only then, at the age of 19, did she release her first album. According to the Wikipedia, Bush herself believes that EMI signed her to prevent any other label from signing her first. They knew she wasn’t ready to record an album, but were willing to wait, and pay for the privilege.

Would this happen today? No chance.

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