Broken Butterfly

Today is a beautiful day in Chicago.
The temperature is in the sixties is expected to rise to the seventies. And after such a brutal February, today just makes you smile. And I think I will just continue smiling and enjoying the beauty of today in spite of another blow to the head. And the heart. And the wallet.
Kendrick Lamar just pulled a “surprise” release out of his pocket. His new release “To Pimp A Butterfly” was released last night on iTunes. The physical release on CD will, presumably, be released on the originally scheduled date of Tuesday, March 23, 2015.

Unfortunately, all I can say is – “whatever”...
and shrug my shoulders - again.

A few months ago, I spoke with my music rep in NY (I’m in Chicago – note that labels and distribution have gotten rid of so many people that I only have a couple of reps in Chicago – the third largest music market in the states), and said that as soon as you can please send me an advance copy of Kendrick Lamar’s new CD so I can have a writer do an article on Kendrick. Not a review. An article that probably would have been the cover story. But… the release happened last night. I guess Kendrick will NOT be the cover story of the March issue of our magazine.
I doubt that there will even be a review.
It all remains to be seen.

So when people come in this week and ask the “what’s new this week?” question, Kendrick will definitely not be on the list. Kind of like Drake (which is still not available physically on CD). Do artists and their managers truly understand the negative effects of NOT releasing music physically? Just looking at my personal buying habits, I don’t purchase music digitally, period.

When a former Experience guest’s latest CD came out (in Nov. 2014) very few people  in my customer database knew about it. In fact, I had no idea either. It came out digitally. And the unfortunate part is that the people who were/would have been most interested just shrugged their shoulders. This artist’s demographic does not really buy digitally. I love this artist but even I didn’t care. But admittedly, it was more of a "didn’t you put that out last year only for people who buy digitally, so I ain’t thinking about you right now" kind of attitude. The physical release was two months AFTER the digital release. The number that was sold "nationally" the first week of the "unknown" CD release, we could have sold at The Experience in Chicago at a single event.

I don’t even feel like having a conversation about this continual, I’ll just kill myself attitude from the music industry. That is what the music industry has done, and continues doing – they are killing themselves. First, with some truly horrible music, then by decimating their employee pool so retailers no longer have anyone to talk to, no longer have reps that dole out information on upcoming releases, no longer have access to hearing music before release, etc. But I predicted this years ago.

But I do want to thank Kendrick Lamar for making me realize that maybe it’s time to make a move on to something where there is a little more love, a little more respect for the people who are trying sell music to the few people left who want to buy it – if it was available in the configuration that they want.

Thanks Kendrick. Thanks Drake. If you wanted to really surprise me, you should have done a D’Angelo-esque move and released the CD and the digital version on the same day. That would have truly been a surprise.

Damn that Beyonce for making artists think that surprising people is the way to go. What artists need to know is that what would really surprise everyone is if labels released “good” music and actually marketed it to the masses in ways that made sense. That would really be a surprise. Thank goodness for indie artists who are grooming their careers for longevity based on a true talent and great music… can you say,  Avery*Sunshine?

Can you say Will Downing? Can you say Eric Roberson?

I could go on and on. Thanks to artists who keep their ears to the streets and still consider their fans and supporters as important parts of their careers and giving them product they touch AND feel.

Real thanks to the indie music community for keeping it real. And for knowing that as important as social media is, the real thing is “the music” – not the surprise release.

Twitter: @dedryjones