“Feel so restless, I am,
Beat my head against a pole
Try to knock some sense,
Down in my bones.”
Supposedly Bob Dylan said he wished he’d written that Johnny Thunders song. Thunders OD’ed, or it was ‘foul play’, somewhat prematurely at the age of 38. Dylan, who many consider to be the world’s greatest songwriter, is still alive and kickin’ today.
He recently sold the rights to his entire song catalog.
I would say the trajectory of this website happened to line up almost exactly with an incredible shift in the music industry. When HRC started, there was just the website, MySpace and iTunes. Then came Facebook. Twitter was next. I can distinctly remember the first time I took a photo at a concert and posted it to twitter; it felt incredibly violating to the band [and maybe even the audience]. But I did it because I was a “blogger”.
Next I switched my interviews from written to YouTube, around ’08/’09.
Then came instagram in Feb ’11. I was the first person I knew on it. Because of my GRAMMY affiliation, I was asked to join as part of a partnership they were doing in 2011 called #instagrammys. That means I was around the first million users of instagram, which is kind of crazy.
Next was Spotify in late ’11. It was invite only then, and I got my invitation from that guy that fronts NIN via twitter. Having access to a streaming service was pure insanity for someone like me who was consuming as much music as I was at the time. It was a similar feeling to seeing a friend in college’s iPod full of illegally downloaded music….
The music industry was still grappling with illegal downloading in a major way when I started my website. But when blogging started and the social networks were new; there was this element of excitement injected into everything. You saw writing from the perspective of fans like never before; zine-like content in every niche imaginable! And the social networks; once the musicians got onboard, you cannot even imagine the excitement of being able to connect with them online. A wall had come down. It was crazy! We are all jaded mofos now; when it started it was a real social experiment, no one knew how to use it and there was very little curation…. it was pure fun.
Then there were the concerts. Most years I clocked in well over 100 shows, and many of those were amazing packages of bands put together. Reunions that were unbelievable. Destination concerts. High production feasts for the eyes! How lucky was I? You can go and look at some of these bands’ tour schedules and just notice how the past 10 years or so are just so jam-packed. And that is what happened when the recorded music became so devalued; the money was on the road… so on the road they lived.
Fast forward to March 2020. I’ve read in countless places [and it has come up in my job as a researcher] that when people, including musicians, first went into lockdown, they were so tired they welcomed the break. They were burnt out! Glad to not be touring! I listen to the podcast Honest AF which features Zakk Wylde’s and Gilby Clarke’s wives, and they talk about how they were so happy to be home. But the bands that need that tour money to survive…I don’t think it’s as rosy of a picture this far into it.
Which brings me back to Bob Dylan.
Dylan kicked off a bit of a trend, with several other mega-famous musicians rumored to sell their song catalogs soon. Why would they do this? I thought Spotify was supposed to save the music industry from the gaping shotgun wound of piracy? Unfortunately, without the triage of live music, and the merch that goes along with that, VIP experiences, etc, even the big artists are feeling the crunch. These older artists just might think that by the time the live music industry recovers to the point that they will be touring again, they’ll be past the age of touring…
“Why wait any longer for the world to begin?
You can have your cake and eat it too”