While our generation had David Cassidy, our kids’ generation has Justin Bieber. We had Van Halen and David Lee Roth, they have Kid Rock. We had Stevie Nicks, you know Carrie Underwood. Instead of the Jackson Five, there’s the Black Eyed Peas. It’s an understatement to say things have changed in music.
“Everything changes, and everything stays the same,” says Matt Siegel. He’s a guy who knows the evolution better than anybody; he’s been number one at Kiss 108 for 30 years. “We do have fancy computers now, didn’t used to have those. We used to play records, remember those? Vinyl.”
I had 8-tracks, now it’s all on iPods. As for the artists, they’ve changed too.
“We don’t deal with musicians at Kiss 108, we deal with pop stars who have electronic drums playing in the background. Katy Perry and Lady Gaga and all those people. Madonna, we’ve met all those people over the years, all those folks. Rhianna, you know, and they’re all very cute in their own plastic sort of way,” Siegel says.
How these people become famous has changed a great deal as well. Teen chart-topper, Justin Bieber wasn’t sending his demo tape out. He was discovered by Usher after Beiber’s mom uploaded videos of him singing on YouTube. He’s now had more than a billion video views.
Take a note from Bieber, experts say. An online following is a must in getting today’s music executives’ attention.
“It’s really generating millions of hits on your YouTube with a YouTube video, or a song on your MySpace site. If you get millions of hits then record labels will come and look for you. Now that’s good that more people have access to opportunity to attract a major label’s interest,” says John Kellogg, a former recording artist, a practicing entertainment attorney, and the assistant chair of the music business management department at Berklee College of Music.
It was once possible to make money from just releasing music. Now getting in front of ticket-buying fans pays the bills.
“Since the beginning of this century, with Napster, all of that has just been turned around because you really can’t make a lot. You can’t get big advances from record companies like you used to. And the performing aspect is still the most important. It’s becoming important again,” Kellogg says.
The show American Idol has given a chance for many small town singers to become big name stars. But it’s what you do after the show that can really make a music career. Some idols like Kelly Clarkson and Daughtry have really hit it big. Carrie Underwood’s success, for instance, is no accident.
“As soon as she won the contest, she was booked on the road everywhere. In bars, in clubs, every state fair, every county fair. In other words, she went out after the show and paid her dues, and it was two or three years after the show that she really became popular,” Kellogg says.
So while as kids we sang along in front of the mirror to our favorite songs, our kids can make their own music videos on their computers. YouTube and MySpace are there as resources to help give that big break to unknowns. But superstars like Lady Gaga, Beyonce, and Britney Spears are few and far between.
“The record business has always been about a very few on the top. There’s only going to be a few at the top, but it’s the ones that are dedicated, that are working hard every day, that will be successful,” Kellogg says.