Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like
I just read a depressing book review. The book is The Song Machine: Inside the Hit Factory, by John Seabrook.
I’m tempted to read the book because I’m interested in music, but I’m also tempted to eschew it because I’m interested in art. You get the impression from the review in the NY Review of Books that these two things have become detached.
Sad. They used to be so close.
If you’re my age, you remember when musicians were reasonably autonomous, at least in that, if they got signed by a recording label, they’d get to be themselves and they’d get to do original material. Dylan was Dylan, The Stones were The Stones (I won’t even mention the four moptops!), and Janis was Janis.
Now, the thing that exists first and foremost is the hit record. It’s conceived by an expert hit-maker (the Swede, Max Martin, as featured in this book), and it’s developed by a committee of instrumentalists and lyricists for a top-level singer like Beyoncé to perform. Sometimes the labels find a newcomer to do the hit, thus launching a whole shitload of future hits for that singer.
Talk about formulaic …
I’m afraid if I were serious about music, my potential hit, “Mystery Cake,” would never see the light of day in this environment!
What really scares me is that publishers will take note of this system and find a way to engineer novels to be hits.
What really really scares me is that they already have.