UNEDITED VERSION OF THE LA WEEKLY ARTICLE:
SING NOW OR FOREVER HOLD YOUR PEACE
There are many factors that contribute towards the seaming lack of social/political
conciseness in the "popular" music of today. The one factor
that maybe most responsible goes largely under reported and there for
gets generally overlooked. That being the continuing deregulation of the
U.S. media by the FCC (example, the Telecommunications Act of 1996). Right
now in fact the FCC under Michael Powel (son of Collin Powel) is considering
elimination of the last few remaining restrictions left on media ownership
in this country. This would result in even more media ownership being
consolidated into the hands of fewer mega corporations. In fact as of
today all radio stations, television stations and daily newspapers in
this country are owed by less than ten companies. Stop and think about
want that means. The call letters or the mastheads may be different but
the owner is the same company. This madness of course began under Ronald
Reagan's FCC with the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine and has escalated
to the sad state we're in today. So much for the legacy of the "Great
Communicator" or the myth of the "Liberal Media", Corporate
Media is more factual.
With this consolidation brings an emphasis shift away from public responsibility
to the bottom line. A protest song critical of corporate control is not
about to make it onto a Clear Channel play list. Now this is not some
corporate "conspiracy theory" (a term often use to trivialize
anything criticizing structures of power) but is more an act of economic
self interest by the media. Media is in the business of selling a demographic
to advertisers. Advertisers become the sole interests that big corporate
media want to keep happy. To hell with diversity or serving the public
good, profit is media's motivation not breaking new artists with a point
of view. Big corporate media give you the music/entertainment they and
their advertisers want you to have not necessarily the music you want
to hear. This is true for all other forms of art and entertainment as
well. It's all about maximizing profit and serving the status quo plain
And as for the artists them selves. With knowledge comes responsibility.
There are folks out there that are making music that is relevant to the
grave state of the world today, addressing such topics as our illegitimate
U.S. President declaring war on the world in the name of corporate greed,
you just have to dig around to find them. Some names that come to mind
are Saul Williams, Michael Fronti, Anne DeFranco, KRS One, Public Enemy,
Steve Earl as well as the other folks in this article. There's a lot of
hip hop, nu-metal, hard core punk or folk style music with a point of
view but not much "pop against the machine" as I like to call
it, and almost no straight ahead traditional rock'n'roll with any to speak
of. That's a void I'm attempting to fill with my own band (Slow Motorcade).
I stated that with knowledge comes responsibility, let me also add that
yes, it's still cool to care (that didn't end with the 60's and 70's).
Do any of the big mega selling "artists/acts" around today like
the currant crop of boy group or girl dance beat singers poses the knowledge
and talent to do a Marvin Gaye "What's Goin On" styled record?
Time will tell, but I'm not optimistic. This may not be the 60's any more,
but remember a big record company will still put out a "subversive"
record if they know they can make a lot of money off of it. It just won't
get played on the radio. We may still have some freedom of speech left
in this country, we've all but lost our freedom to be heard.
Anthony Castillo of Slow Motorcade 1/26/03 Los Angeles CA.