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Saturday, March 04, 2006

If Only You Were Lonely

Kyle has a really good post on the AV Club blog about the recent attempts by Victory Records to get Hawthorne Heights' latest CD, If Only You Were Lonely, to the top of the Billboard 200 Albums chart.

Here's a snippet:

Hawthorne Heights should be ecstatic. My harsh review notwithstanding, their new record, If Only You Were Lonely, is poised to sell upwards of 200,000 copies its debut week. For a major-label artist, that’s great, but for an indie-label band with minimal radio support, it’s an amazing accomplishment. But if next week’s issue of Billboard arrives without Hawthorne Heights in the #1 spot, it will be a bitter disappointment.

Read the whole thing here.

Here's my comment (with some typos fixed):

While I think it's noble for an independent label to take on the major labels, Victory Records looks more and more like No Limit Records these days. Seriously: how can it be punk rock to become a label that's worse than a major?

In the eyes of the music industry, I'm an old fogie music fan at 27. While I don’t have as much money to spend on records like I used to, I still buy plenty of records every year. I have a few Victory releases in my CD collection that I still enjoy today and I’m not embarrassed by them. Records by Snapcase, Grade, Grey Area, Thursday and Taking Back Sunday sit on my shelf as I am befuddled by what Victory puts out now.

Music aside, the tactics they use to get it out to "the kids" is very appalling. Tacky two-page spreads in mags declaring a war on corporate rock, vans wrapped in Victory logos that go city to city to pass out promotional items and stickers that cover up most of a CD cover comparing one of their (usually mediocre) bands to distinct and non-mediocre bands, I wonder what the hell is going on here. It’s one thing to get your name out there, but this is overkill.

I know that in this day and age it's harder to get younger people to actually buy music on CD, but going to rather absurd lengths to get "kids" who don't know better to buy a record they will probably/most-definitely be embarrassed to own in a few years, I wonder what the real goal is.

I come from a mindset that when you record something, it's a document. Regardless if it's a marketable cash-in or made with no commercial intentions in mind, it's gonna stick around. If you don't believe me, go to any used CD store or half-price website in the world. So, what does this mean for a band like Hawthorne Heights (and a lot of other bands out there that are like them)? Plenty.

Singing lyrics that are almost exclusively for the high-school-and-younger crowd, I see records that are doomed in the long-run. Making music that has no imagination or any real depth to it almost always gives it an expiration date. Documenting all this
rather embarrassing vulnerability is not something I can get behind. Yeah, I've had some rough times in my life, but I'm not going to bare it all for everyone to hear, see or read. I wonder if the guys in these bands are fully aware of how much they’re being taken for a ride here.

I haven't heard Hawthorne Heights' new record and I'm not really compelled to hear it. I thought their first album was so bad that I didn't think that anyone would buy this schlock. Well, after Victory kept pumping so much money into it, it did sell. The problem is, no matter how many units it sold, it's still a crappy document.

Numbers are important in a business, but when commerce is over-shadowing the art, I wonder what’s really important. Time is the enemy to us all and all I see are dark clouds ahead for these bands.

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