Promoting Music or Supporting Talent?
We’ve been down this road before, or should I say, we’ve been up and down this Elevator ride in the past (pun intended). And I think it’s time we made peace with this simple fact: Jive is not going to do anything major when it comes to promoting David’s music. If “Something ‘Bout Love” becomes a hit, and yes, it’s good enough to be one, then hurray for David and everyone else involved. If not, so what? Is our worst fear that David will be unceremoniously dropped from his label?
Funny thing is, that’s what I used to fear. But now, I’m not worrying about this. David is just getting started. He’s 19, and younger than Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys, and a host of other formidable music artists who started their careers in their teens but who surpassed their own potential. I’m beginning to think David will be following this trajectory.
I think we need to start overlooking the Taylor Swifts (where is she in 2010?), Justin Biebers, and Miley Cyruses, start moving beyond “instant stardom” cum Idol or You Tube or Z100, and look at the bigger picture. In the wider context is a young man, David, who’s charming everyone he meets, proving his talent, and slowly gaining momentum. He may not be burning up itunes charts right now, but who says this needs to be the path that a sophomore album takes?
All I know is: David sang his new single acoustic style, and no amount of radio play or You Tube views or TV appearances will change this simple truth:
Nobody his age can pull off a song like that and not only sing it live but sing it improvisational style. Talent like that needs support, not the music itself.
Obviously, the fanbase will now need to dig in our heels and learn the virtues of patience. Talent like David will need more years, more nurturing, and more exposure to really be appreciated on a global level. We’re just not there yet.
And, now that I’ve had a chance to relax, get some vacation time, and rethink where we are at this cultural moment, I’d rather David wait and make a real impact than to have some instant success that means nothing when the current music scene is terribly mediocre.
When I had last checked into my blog earlier this month, it was to comment on the music video, which I found and still find to be a total disappointment. Music videos, which are designed to promote music, are supposed to provide a compelling visual narrative that adds a new layer to the song we hear. There was absolutely nothing relevant or remotely interesting about the video that captures the song and its underlying melancholy, nor did we learn anything provocative about the artist behind the song. Once I saw the banal concept behind the SBL video, I knew better than to expect anything on the part of David’s label in selling or promoting his music.
It is what it is. The music industry has completely and officially lost its way. And this isn’t just for up and coming artists like David. All you have to do is take a look at how veterans are treated.
Although I was overseas, I was privy to the so-called “controversy” behind Eminem and Rhianna’s music video for “Love the Way You Lie.” I did not get a chance to see this video until this weekend, and all I could think of is: that’s it?! What exactly is so “controversial” about the video other than to address the subject of domestic violence? The only offensive thing I found about the video is, not that it “glorifies” domestic violence but that it turned the topic into a cliche.
Not only has this topic been explored in other music videos, there have been far more effective ways to showcase this subject. See Martina McBride’s Independence Day, the more comical Goodbye Earl from the Dixie Chicks, the bluesy Rain on Me by Ashanti, and the hard-hitting rap Love is Blind by Eve.
Like the music video for SBL, the video for LTWYL seemed tired and uninspired. If you listen to either song, you know there is more substance and more meat. What we see instead is a flattening effect and no real endeavors in promoting music and its storytelling strengths.
What is most exciting about David as a live performer is his vocal ability to truly tell a story. Unfortunately, he is now signed to a label that doesn’t know how to effectively tell the story of the Voice. Perhaps David’s soaring talent will speak for itself.
In the mean time, he is a kite with cans attached to his tail.
May we eventually move beyond the banal concerns of music promotion and marketing and get back to the talent and what we can do to support its growth.
May David survive this downturn in musical “recession” and thrive in better times. I have hope and the belief that he will.