Politics and Music/Music and Politics

Have you been keeping on top of this whole Justice Department hoo-hah? Yes? No? Well, if not, then what’s going with the Bush Administration will not surprise you when I say that it’s a haven for “yes men and women” who are driven more by ideology than process. In short, the place mirrors a corporation where you either tow the company line, or you’re out. And that seems to be what happened to the federal prosecutors who were “dismissed” by the Justice Department. Sure, shills for the Justice Department are saying that the prosecutors were fired because of “performance reasons.” Yeah, right. Many low-level Bushies — conditioned to corporate life — are often in the dark about why things happen (i.e., why was someone fired?). When called on the carpet to explain things, they either default to the script provided by the lawyers, or attack. When evidence comes out showing the lawyer approved script is not accurate, then we get the joy of seeing the shills scramble to regain control of the message. Case in point: Justice Department emails are showing that some prosecutors were dismissed to make way for more ideologically friendly drones who will do the Administration’s bidding. But it gets better! According to Tim Grieve at Salon.com, there’s some evidence that the White House “signed off” on the, um, lay offs:

On Dec. 4, 2006, Kelley sent Sampson an e-mail — with a “cc” to Miers — saying: “We’re a go for the US Atty plan. WH leg, political and communications have signed off and acknowledged that we have to be committed to following through once the pressure comes.” The U.S. attorneys were told of their departures three days later.

The worker bees are busy with all the damage control right now, but I’m sure there’s more to come…

In “other” political world of music, Salon has an article on how Congress has gone after the “pay for play” scheme in radio (i.e., give a program director cash, vacations, and other lubricants, and that program director will play your song on the radio), but at the same time crafted a system that basically puts Internet radio stations out of business because of an astronomically high royalty rate. This doesn’t surprise me, but it sad to think that many of these Internet stations — where people could go to hear a continuous mix of music that was new – are going to fold up because of this new way of doing business.

But the “industry” is just trying to stave off the evitable…

There’s quite a bit of data that shows people aren’t buying CDs like they used to; radio listening is holding fairly steady as far as audience share goes, but radio is losing “the kids” to podcasting, downloading, and trading music. So, that means there’s going to be a decline in audience share if current trends in music buying and listening continue. Big chain record stores like Tower Records were, for me, a nice memory of my music past, but sadly stores who do stock music nowadays have offerings that look like they’re approved by some corporate version of a politburo. You add all that up, and you get a very stagnant industry where innovative and daring music is marginalized and endless variations of “tried and true” gets elevated.

Because the major labels and associations have the clout and money, they are able to protect their turf by pushing what they consider marginal a little farther away from the politically approved music (i.e., those labels who have the deepest pockets and the most political and industry influence to keep their “product” in the spotlight).

So…what to do? I love a lot music that’s very commercial, very pop, and to many music snobs is probably viewed as very boring. But, I’m also a big booster of new music and really get geeked about writing about it. If you read this blog, you know that I’ve been featuring music from eMusic. Well, I’ve also joined Jamendo after Salon provided a link to the service. I haven’t been able to dig through their offerings, but get ready for more music you’ve probably never heard of. I hope you stick with me! 🙂
–PK

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