Music marketing / acceptance in America

I love music.  Those of you who checked out my Slacker station probably have some idea of my eclectic taste.  I play drums and sing, and have been making music since the late ’70s.  It’s a wonderful hobby!  As a musician myself, I am probably a bit more sympathetic than most in regards to other musicians and their ability or inability to “make it”.

I find it unfortunate that many times, artists are not able to succeed in the American market.  I’m not sure whether this is due to US record labels and their modus operandi, or whether it is the American consumers not liking “the product”.  Frequently, artists who struggle here are able to find much better acceptance and sales overseas; specifically in England, Germany and Japan.  I wonder why?  From a selfish point of view, this means that some really great music is not readily available in this country, and neither are concerts by those artists.

Of course, I have a couple of examples for your edification:

Tony Carey – This very versatile artist was born in Turlock, California, in 1953.  He currently has released over 30 albums, but is still not well known in the USA.  He has done very well in the German marketplace, and as a result, he has moved to Germany.  In the ’70s, he was releasing albums under both his name, and “Planet P Project” in order to circumvent record label restrictions on putting out too many albums per year (they didn’t want to confuse the buying public).  He plays multiple instruments and has a very expressive voice.  His style is difficult to quantify; The Planet P material is more sci-fi in concept, but his other material ranges from country, to pop, rock, and just about everything in between.  It’s marvelous to see an artist who doesn’t feel they have to keep grinding out the same old stuff, in the same old style all the time.

Joe Baiza – He is a punk/funk/jazz guitarist from California.  His style is jazz-rock, but more free-form than the structured rock usually heard.  Joe is usually part of the LA scene, but hasn’t been able to have as much success here as he has in Germany.  He has been part of several talented bands; Universal Congress Of, Mecolodiacs, Saccharine Trust to name a few.  Granted, his high-energy improv driven music isn’t for everybody, but why do more people in Europe know him than in the US?

Kevin Gilbert – One of the many struggling, incredibly talented artists who was unable to really “make it big” in the American music scene.  Sadly, he died at a young age.  One has to wonder if he would have found the audience he needed overseas, but as far as I know he did not have an opportunity to explore in that direction.

Here is an interesting article on the music scene in Japan.  Apparently, credit cards are not trusted there, and so on-line ordering is not popular.  People pay cash for physical CDs, usually around $22 each.  You’d think that with lower cost in the US, people would take more chances on artists than in Japan, but that is opposite from reality.


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