Gumming The Works: A New Approach To Ending Sound Sales

A fresh approach to lashing out against corporate America and saving the reputation of free speech, free expression, and free music.

Ultimate Guitar

Every pop culture item available today has been boosted to the public through corporate intervention. From ABBA to Zeppelin, the broadcasting of messages and music over the intricate corporate network has been molded to fit the stereotypical nature of generations and eras. However, some artists are being excommunicated and ostracized from their diehard fans simply due to the fact that they wish to broaden their horizons. There exists a dire confusion in the war against corporate America, possibly brought about by the confusion in the war against terror. However, this problematic misunderstanding cannot deter the true music-lover from understanding the messages conveyed by artists. The corporate scandals have finally forced the public into revolution, but the unorganized effort has left many, revolutionaries included, torn in public opinion. Truly, an organization must be found among the rubble if this corporate machine is to ever be toppled, and unfortunately, it seems that the only way to destroy the machine is to become its friend.

Beginning with the advent of recording technology, the fate of artists and corporations had been sealed. As new generations and new recording mediums progressed, so did types of music, each with a different sound and message to match the stereotype of the era. How did the music of each age become so much a distinct sound with almost identical messages? The answer is simple - corporations, in the seeking of profit, eagerly advertised artists that would match the new sound that fitted the stereotypes and just as eagerly shunned artists that tried the new and inconceivable. Reflecting back in time, the only true fringe artists, despite refusal to imitate, that were widely publicized, were those who shaped the changing of eras. In the gaps between every generation's signature sound, new artists sprang up to effect yet another new sound for a new generation. These artists, on the norm, took characteristics of the previous stereotype, and added it to their own new ideas - thus creating a transition that lacked true imitation but yet also lacked pure originality. Though many love the birth of rock-and-roll that sprang up in the fifties, or the big band era, or even the psychedelic reformation of music, the artists that created these types of music were often advertised via corporate schemes, and unknowingly these artists were the building blocks of the corporate machine that faces America today, the very structure that now dictates to the people of this nation what to watch, hear, enjoy, and think about.

The corporate machine cannot be destroyed by petty effort. Yes, the underground attempts to boycott large labels in preference of independents caused a marginal wound on the CEO Dictator Squad, but the wound is just that, marginal. There are still millions of normal Americans that are victims, marching to the corporate beat, and until the machine is destroyed, these citizens will continue to be entranced by the mind-numbing excess of amplifiers and lack of literacy existent in today's so-called musicians. Most people have a radio, cassette tape player, and CD player in their home or cars, but cassettes are obsolete and turning on the radio's Top 20 can be a painful experience as the ad-libbing of orgasmic pop women or flaming pop men fill the speakers. Thank God (optional Allah, or the Great Universal Sphere for political correctness) that the use of illegal file sharing programs and CD burners allow those who despise conformity to crank their stereos to the Carpenters if they so choose. However, though marginally significant, the somewhat ill-fated efforts of the ignore it and it will go away group has proven itself unsuccessful in its endeavors. Something more is needed, something as crafty and underhanded as the corporations themselves, a leech.

The easiest way to destroy something is to become its friend, and this same methodology can be applied to the war against the corporate music industry. Perhaps bands that begin small, advocate common man values, and work their way up deserve some credit, even if the go corporate. In truth, these bands are the ones with a message, usually against corporate America. What is not realized is that these artists need to go to the major leagues in order to spread the message. If the band, which operates on very little cash earned from birthday parties to bar gigs, tries to spread the message, exactly how far can they go? They certainly cannot spread the message via advertising due to limited capital, and they can't get the big corporate venues that the Top 20's enjoy. In effect, the band is left with a 100 mile radius in which their influence has partially spread, entirely by word of mouth. Though highly commendable for their effort, the band has reached its climax and cannot continue to spread the word due to financial limits. However, if that band is picked up by the CDS (CEO Dictator Squad), then their capital limit is sky-high, and the limits to broadcast cannot be reached. Here, when the CDS is the friend of the little band and gives out cookies, candies, and cash, and this is where the double-crossing begins. Just as corporations did in their disguised effort to gain profit by faking true concern over what America really likes, artists must use corporate capital to spread the anti-corporate message. And also, here is where those that shunned that band for its selling out of the Indie label must support the anti-corporate effort and realize just how detrimental the message is to the corporate machine.

However, just as any covert operation is, there are innumerable fine lines that must be treaded on perfectly. The first exists in just how friendly the artist and corporation should get - if they are too friendly, the artist can be sucked into the trap, and if they aren't friendly enough, the anti-corporate message can leave the artist flat on his/her face with the chance to effect change no longer attainable. Also important is the fine line existent for the fans - feeding the corporate machine just enough to support the artist is necessary, but feeding too much or too little can cause the machine to grow larger or shrink, causing contracts to be denied renewal in favor of stronger music. Also, the covert band must realize its fate in that the machine that is feeding them they are trying to topple: in the end this is a suicidal mission to a career. If that machine no longer exists, the artist is no longer guaranteed a position in the people's hearts in the rubble following the falling of corporate America. Just as great as the advantages of this plan are the disadvantages; it will take a group or artist with true integrity and vision or execute such a plan. Despite the seemingly terrible odds of this happening, there are many young bands that would eagerly become a martyr for the cause they so willingly advocate, and it is these people that will bring about the downfall of corporate America.

Can we hope for a new age in which America chooses what it enjoys without the subliminal messages and stereotypical nature of corporations that feed the people their entertainment? Will the machine built over a lengthy period of time ever fall to its knees when it discovers the incredible power of people's unwillingness to be spoon-fed? The answers to these questions lie deep in the future, but perhaps, with great effort and honest intentions, the end of corporate America does lie ahead, if not for us, then the next generation the follows.

19 comments sorted by best / new / date

    thefinalcut wrote: if you don't like what's out right now in rock either let it be, or start creating your own music to shut it down...Music is not a competition
    Speaking of the Matrix... the music that is synonomous with the new millenium is not born naturally any more; it is grown. It is manufactured. It is pre-processed to fit the mold Corporate America created. I personally came very close to getting signed to a major record label. Our band had a sound that was raw, somewhere between rock and metal, and much like a diamond in the rough. We sat down with record execs and talked to them about our sound. They told us and I quote, "You guys are this close!" To which I personally replied, "This close to what ?" The female record executive hesitated, then said, "To getting a deal with this label." Should I be excited? Hell yes. Was I? Hell no. Why? What was it our band was lacking? Then she continued, "It's so hard to be successful as a three piece band. You guys should look into getting a fourth member." I thought about it. What kind of an idiot does she take me for? Immediately, names of three piece bands popped into my head. Nirvana. Green Day. Primus. Rush. How does that justify why we're a fry short of a Happy Meal? How do you explain the White Stripes? Local H? Filter... or at least when they first debuted? How do you explain the awesomeness that is Trent Reznor? They wanted to talk to us longer. I was pissed off. Not directly at the record execs, but at the ridiculous explanation as to why we came up short. I could tell my bandmates were getting upset as well. Before they could say anything else to us, I stood up and walked away. The next band that took the stage was a post-punk emo band. They sounded exactly like Blink 182. They even had a similar name. They walked off stage after performing and were given a record deal. They were cheap imitations of a band that currrently exists and they were given a deal. They were a three piece band. Even after the originality that our band had displayed a mere ten minutes earlier, the imposters got the deal. They got the deal because they fit the Corporate mold. All they needed was a little polishing.
    He has a brilliant point. Think about it. How many guitar based bands are out there today that deserve the term "legendary"? Led Zep; gone, The Beatles; gone, Hendrix; dead and gone. Nobody listening to corporate radio gets to hear the greatness of Steve Vai, John Petrucci, Joe Satriani, John Coltrane, Jaco Pastorius... why? They have been brainwashed. To quasi-quote the line from the Matrix ... "It is all around us. It is there when you look out your window. It is there when you turn on your television. It is the shade that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth." What truth? "That you are a slave." And we are all slaves. We are converts of the Corporate religion. We believe in the Corporate deity. We see the goodness projected on television. We hear it on the radio. When the radio plays a polished ProTools manufactured song with no glitches or mistakes, we know we are hearing the work of a Corporate god. The songs from this day and age reflect a world of young individuals just trying to be successful. They seem to be struggling just trying to make it. However, don't you think it's a bit strange that they never sing out of key?-Play guitar out of key?---EVER ?!? It's amazing what an Antares AVP can do for kids just breaking out of puberty. Don't you think it's just a little odd? If you don't see what's happening, you are a zombie. An automaton. A pre-programmed robot that carries out the order of a higher power (Corporate America). You are a brainwashed victim and I feel sorry for you. I don't listen to the radio. I don't watch music videos. Corporate America has succeeded in destroying music. We are being force-fed. MTV should change its name to CIV (Commercialized Intra Venous). I agree with the author of this article. The Corporate scene is an evil empire and it will reign supreme until we wake up and take back what is rightfully ours. It may be too late.
    He's got a point. Think of all those bands that could've been the next Pink Floyd, Led Zepellin (or akin to their greatness). You guys need to take a step back and realize that this is probably a person that is tired of cultures all around the world being americanized. Of course he can listen to different music and try to ignore pop acts. But it's kinda hard when it's force fed to you every day, through whatever medium; be it television, radio, walking through shops, addvertising and whatever the **** else. give him a break.
    BITCH, BITCH, BITCH... (...well, every body else was doing it, why not me too?)
    Kinda Dumb. Music is whatever you want it to be. If you don't like pop acts, don't listen to them. There are always other options. And without corporations, there most likely wouldn't BE a music industry at all. He made a decent point, but very cliche.
    oddy nocki
    "The corporate machine" - AHAHHAHAHAHHAHAHHAHHA "Can we hope for a new age in which America chooses what it enjoys without the subliminal messages and stereotypical nature of corporations that feed the people their entertainment?" No, people like this sort of stuff. Just like people enjoying feeling like they're fighting the corporations by listening to "underground music" (read: shit music)show how rebellious they are. "Will the machine built over a lengthy period of time ever fall to its knees when it discovers the incredible power of people?s unwillingness to be spoon-fed?" NO, people are idiots. They have all the bases covered. You don't think the alternative culture thing isn't the wolf in a sheep skin, do you?
    Well how about just working hard and making good music and having fun? since when should music become a mission to destroy?
    LOL, to the guys above me. They're right but Joe is too. As far as corporate music is concerned (Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys, the two Simpson girls and many more "bands"!), just let it be. It's not even worth us rock guys to even worry about or judge them. Those are pop acts that do what they are always gonna do...what's popular! If you don't like what's out right now in rock either let it be, or start creating your own music to shut it down...Music is not a competition
    Whoa!!! Settle down you maniac - Music is an artform, not a weapon.
    I sure am glad I?m not this guys therapist.. Can you say pseudo-intellectual? .. It?s time to put away the fight club DVD and go back to reality. You?re clichd rant is as old as the manufactured music you have so much against. Just try to sit back and take it all for what it is, entertainment. If you like it good, if not go listen to underground musicians.. There?s so many more constructive things you can do with your brain cells and time than complain. But whatever??
    ya has been used to destroy, but i agree with lifeguard when saying why not just have fun
    Wow! So I'm not the only non-automatonic clone in cyberspace! Thank you, Joe. You took the words right out of my mouth and displayed them in technicolor for every victim to see. Awesome! 5 stars!
    are you f****n serious? the guillotine... that's revolution, not using napster for free music. peace out Maximillien