Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Bowie principles

Planet earth is blue. The outpouring of love for Bowie is unsurprising. Few artists have had success in so many sectors over so many decades. He belonged to the internet generation, pre and post, a child of the space race with the determination and talent to excel. He is rightly revered.

I may not have always loved him. He made some music I never want to hear again and some I’d gladly listen to every day. The fact that he was able to transcend mistakes, to float above the norms, mark him out as truly special.

Aside from the music I wondered what his legacy meant for other musicians, what lessons could be learned. 

Work hard      

Signed in the sixties, the original David Bowie was a mod. At least in style. His music had folk/pop leanings and it was unsuccessful. These were different times. He tried hard but couldn’t buy a hit, experiencing three years between hit singles, a first album that flopped followed by another two that did the same. All three albums eventually charted in 1972 after Ziggy.

Before and between albums he played live, joined a dance school, wrote songs for others, appeared in a tv commercial, expanded his influences. He flogged himself around trying to catch a break.

Absorb your influences

We hear a lot about Bowie the chameleon, he was far more of a sponge. He picked up musical and stylistic influences that he liked and absorbed them into his art.  It’s not all about the music although it is said that the Ziggy persona that gave him his break came from moulding his favourite elements of Lou Reed and Iggy Pop.

Pay It Back

Bowie/Ronson produced Lou Reed’s Transformer. Bowie also wrote and performed on Iggy Pop’s The Idiot and Lust For Life, playing live in the band. If Ziggy was theft of their identities then David re-paid it many times over. Throughout his career he had an eye for talent and would go out of his way to champion it. Be generous in your largesse, it pays off.

Monday, January 11, 2016

The dormant volcano

It’s been a while. Others were able to spend more time on dissecting the music industry and no-one needed me to echo or challenge those thoughts. I spent some time thinking about a new direction for this blog but aside from challenging injustice in the media, which no-one seems too bothered about, this is what I know……so, for now, it rolls on.

While I was away Adele was saving the music industry with her mega-sales whilst simultaneously proving that we have created a two-tier system in music. We have a few major stars selling across any platform and a mass of niche artists working their long-tails in the background. This is the new normal.