What a weekend. I've been working pretty straight since Tuesday, so after working during the Texas v. Texas A&M game on Thanksgiving, I threw my (semi-drunken and very determined) hands up in the air and decided if I was leaving the restaurant at 3 in the morning, I would sober up and head to Best Buy to participate in my very first Black Friday event. Nothing would beat the line already around the block and the fifteen minutes in one of Austin's first coldest nights of the season.
My prize - a wonderful new system for my record player with an easy payment plan. Finally - out with the computer speaker set-up and in with two beautiful towers of power. In my experience, shoppers were civil. In fact, as I arrived mere minutes before the door, they were still giving out "limited" coupons. In fact, it seemed like most were browsing. Maybe I can't judge this because it was my first early run for Black Friday, but it got me thinking about a common theme - do we know what we want anymore? Are people frivolously spending or saving for that one thing they've been saving for or, like me, can easily finance?
Then, as I was laying on the floor, a bit intoxicated in shame after LSU's pitiful loss on Saturday, taking in the speakers surrounding my head, I began thinking about the same thought from a few nights before. Spending money and taking chances on things we may be scared to do in such financial times and how that relates to the big labels. I mean, I'm in debt, but I still have good credit. Our country runs on a deficit. Somehow, with the industry constantly losing money - they still find ways to fund utter crap that will later make its way to the bargain bins when FYE stores begin to close everywhere from poor physical sales.
In the scope of things, I can't quite begin to understand where all of this money is coming from and why a business model that is obviously failing is still generating some sort of cash flow.
One of my friends told me the other day that she wanted to eventually work in A&R. I told her it doesn't exist anymore. Well, it exists, but not in the traditional sense it once was. There is no more development, and not just because of the labels, but because of our A.D.D. tendencies in a culture which bombards us with constant flows of millions upon millions of messages and ads a day. I was thinking, why do so many of these big companies have a Facebook page? Why are they on Twitter? Well, not only is the 10-24 year old market using the new technology, but adults are too. While probably not in ample numbers, one mother could use a Twitter page as opposed to looking through piles of ads. A simple scroll of the finger.
It just went back and forth in my mind for some time laying on that floor - the power of consumerism and investments. I don't own a lot of "nice" things - so I consider them investments and take care of them. Maybe if I had a money tree, I wouldn't care as much. Kind of like that person whose father buys them a new car every time they carelessly wreck theirs. Maybe it is just reckless behavior to turn a dime.
After doing this industry feature, hanging out with a few new and established bands this past week and really having some great off the cuff discussions about music and the industry this month, I kind of want to shut it all out. I don't want to think about it anymore. Still, like the annual Saw franchise, it's my greatest guilty pleasure. As soon as something big hits the news wire, I'm trying to figure out what the fuck this all means next - a regular Madden trying to pinpoint everyone's next move without my safeties running into each other in the excitement - seriously guys! That cost us the damn game!
Another feeling consumed me as I was slowly passing out while Waiters: You Vultures! was winding down around me - when did I begin to forget about the enjoyment of the music. You get so caught up in full inboxes every morning and stacks of advances when you're still on the ones from last week - you sometimes lend yourself to the job and not the fun reason you wanted to do all of this.
So, I'll end this stream of conscious (read: insanity) and say this - as I'm trying to place my end of the year list in some sort of (dis)order, I can confirm this: The albums that grabbed me away from the "job" aspect that is my 8-3 every day, those are the ones that will make my list. Maybe it won't have the production value or compositional snobbery that other critics were looking for this year - but they certainly gave me some sort of enjoyment. I wasn't in search of these records - but I was determined to make them my escape after I gave them a chance.