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GregB last won the day on May 20

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About GregB

  • Birthday 12/25/1951

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    Greg Barnett
  • Musical / Songwriting / Music Biz Skills
    Songwriting (4 original albums), past performer (solo/duo), audio & video recording and production
  • Musical Influences
    Beatles, ELO, Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Chicago, Great American Songbook, classical music

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    Music: playing guitar/piano, songwriting, recording, production
    Filmmaking, photography, video editing
    Reading: sci-fi, comedy, autobiography, thrillers
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    look for the individual albums

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  1. I'd never have imagined that rhythm from the written page. Although Rap was never my thing, I can appreciate the difficulty in getting your mouth around such a lot of oddly juxtaposed syllables! Impressive. ๐Ÿ‘ ๐Ÿ˜Ž
  2. Hi Forums are meant to be conversational rather than pin-boards for adverts. Would be nice to get some context for your post ... the who, what, why, etc.. rather than just a cold, heartless link. The playing is nice but ... so what? There are a lot of nice players in the world. And why only the first few bars? ... Did the Yacht sink?
  3. How prescient ... here's a May 15 2024 discussion on the subject. I've provided a Transcription below (using the excellent AI tool ... how's THAT for irony! ... in Resolve 18 Studio). I still find reading MUCH quicker than grinding through a video, although Ted Gioia is a very clear and expressive speaker. Hey everybody, I'm Rick Beato. Today I have the pleasure of welcoming back to the studio Ted Joya, a renowned music historian, critic, and futurist known for his deep dives into the evolution of music and American culture. I've been following Ted's sub-stack where he writes about everything from his predictions on the future of AI and music to his love of coffee. Just like our last conversation, I find that Ted is not only endlessly fascinating but also has an incredible sense of humor. I think you'll really enjoy this. Here's my interview. Ted, welcome. Thank you for having me. Or should I say welcome back actually. Well it's great to be back. We had fun last time and I'm looking forward to doing it again. So you and I went to dinner last night and we talked a bit about AI and how record labels and delivery systems like Spotify will be using AI in the future. Can you talk about this a bit? Well AI is everywhere right now and it's the hot topic in music. But the question is how much is it being used? And the problem is there's not a lot of disclosure. What we see about AI is almost a secret and this is probably the biggest warning sign for me is if AI is really so wonderful, if it's so exciting, if it's so tremendous, why do they have to keep it a secret? And I see this everywhere. Now I'm going to talk about music in a second but let me just look at some of the other fields. Like I'm in writing and there are these AI articles everywhere but no disclosure. A few months ago Sports Illustrated right before it collapsed had this great idea of saving money by using AI to write articles. And you know what they did? Is they actually assigned the names of people to the articles. Well this article is by Bill Smith or Nancy Jones or whatever. And then they would have bios and a web page for these authors that did not exist because they were ashamed of using the AI. And this is spread everywhere. In books I had now AI books come out trying to steal my readers and they attributed the books to Mr. Joya. Frank Joya wrote this book on jazz and basically they're targeting the readers of my jazz book but deceptively at no point do they say this book is written by AI. So I actually went looked at all the new music books that were listed on Amazon and tried to figure out which ones are by real authors and which ones are by AI. You can't figure it out. There's no there's no honesty there. So let's now look at music. And in music my fear of the same thing is happening. On Spotify one of the users a fellow named Adam Faiz was listening to Spotify and he kept hearing the same song over and over again. He said this is interesting. He started paying attention every time the song came on. It was a 41 second song. Okay. He saw it had a different name and a different artist. No wait a second this song sounds almost identical to the one I heard. So he compiled a playlist of 49 songs that were more or less identical but they had different names different artists and were attributed to different composers. Now what's going on here. That can't be true. Now it's obvious to conclude and I can't prove it though is this is Spotify's way of using AI. They have AI songs. They attribute them to people that don't exist like Sports Illustrated and this allows them to take royalties that would go to musicians and keep them for themselves. If they can own the work themselves created by AI they're going to be able to maximize their revenues. Now I can't prove this is happening at Spotify but it's hard to think of some other explanation for what's going on. So this is the real story behind AI. AI is the hot thing in music but not because it's great music. I've never met anyone where I say what's your favorite genre of music. No I love this AI stuff. Yeah I just can't. This AI music is my favorite genre. I've never met maybe that person exists. I've never met them. So the AI is happening not because it's great not because it has a fan base not because it allows some improvements over the music that that lowly folks like you or I would make. It's being used to save costs and in a deceptive way and that's my fear is that what's happening with AI is it's a cost savings measure being forced duplicitously on the market for the benefit of the companies and hurting the fans and hurting the musicians. Okay what about TikTok and AI? Well this is the same question. It was very interesting. A few months ago Universal Music pulled all their songs off of TikTok and they complained bitterly and they complained about royalties but the other thing they complained about was AI. They said well we're not going to come back to TikTok till you get rid of AI because we fear you're using AI to do exactly what I talked about. You're going to move the audience to AI music so you don't have to pay Universal Music. And just a few days ago Universal Music came back to TikTok. That's right. Apparently they patched up their differences but I've seen no statement from TikTok that they're getting rid of AI. This is they're wedded to that and one of the things I think you're going to see is no one will ever spell it out for you. You won't see the head of Spotify or TikTok or any of these companies say we're going to squeeze the musicians and the labels with AI. They don't say that but that has to be what's happening. Isn't the reason that you that Universal Music group came back one of the reasons because they can't figure out how to promote records without TikTok? Well this is the sad story of our times. I see this repeatedly as people go to war against these big tech platforms and I always predict that the tech platform will win the war and I've been right every time. Every time I've been correct and it's sad you see Universal Music say well we're going to go to war with TikTok and force them to give in. And if Universal Music can't do it, what Universal Music controls what 30, 35 percent? 32 percent. 32 percent of the recordings out there. If they can't get concessions from TikTok who can? And around that same time Neil Young came back to Spotify. You know he said I'm never going to be on Spotify again. Joni Mitchell came back to Spotify. Yeah. And I don't blame them because what choice do we have? No choice. The platforms set the rules and the rest of us have to follow them and this would be okay if those people really knew and loved music. But look at the people that run these platforms. They're not music lovers like you and me or your audience out there. These are people that are techies and they have completely different goals and priorities than having a flourishing music ecosystem. They want to benefit themselves. They want to benefit their companies financially and if the music suffers well they just are willing to live with it. One of the things that I find interesting between Spotify and Apple is that Spotify will show you the streaming numbers of every single song on an album. A lot of people that follow my channel when I make a video and I made a video about this song called "Blinding Lights" by The Weeknd. It's the most streamed song on Spotify. 4.2 billion streams and people say oh that's all bots. Now people I think write this stuff. First of all Spotify has to pay these artists for this and the idea that the number 4.2 billion is a massively big number. I think they're thinking of a bunch of cell phones in a room just on repeat trying to play this thing 4.2 billion times and just because they haven't heard it because people are essentially in silos because that's how the algorithms have placed them. Oh you like this and you're going to like something else. It's pretty much just like this. Well there are bots out there and I don't want to minimize the impact. People tell me that people that there's money laundering going through Spotify using bots and that this is how people they get their dirty money. They have the bots run up plays for some track and then the money comes back from Spotify and it's been laundered. Now I don't know if that's true or not but I've heard that. I'm actually more worried about something else in that trusting that the numbers are accurate and people are actually listening. Places like Spotify still have games they can play. Let me give you a very amazing example I think the story of Johann Ruhr from Sweden. Very interesting individual Johann Ruhr because he has achieved 15 billion streams on Spotify. Now that's a large number. Let me tell you how large it is. That's more than Michael Jackson. That is more than Elton John. It's more than Abba. You know it's nobody out there with maybe two or three exceptions in the whole world can get the kind of streams Johann Ruhr is. Nobody knows his name. Now why is that? Well Johann Ruhr never uses his own name in his music. He has 656 different aliases. Sometimes there's a man or a woman or different national groups or whatever. He never uses his own name. He uses 656 different names and then shows up on all these playlists. He is on 144 different official Spotify curated playlists reaching 62 million people. Sometimes he's 40% or more of a single playlist but no one knows about it because the name changes. So they're able to push all this traffic to Johann Ruhr. Now why is Spotify doing this? Now I got an email from somebody and I can't see if this is true. They said Ted you didn't hear this from me but Spotify owns all the rights of those songs and they're using this. Big surprise. He's Swedish and Spotify's not right. I know he's right down the street from the Spotify headquarters. Now I can't prove that they are using Johann Ruhr to avoid paying royalties to real musicians but what other explanation can they be? And let me give you sort of a hint of the spirit here. I started looking at his music and the music is all just banal background music. Nothing to get excited about and I found one of his tracks on Spotify that had gotten four or five million plays. Then I found the same track on YouTube. It had a hundred plays. Well wait a second. If this is such a great song, if everybody loves this song, why does it only get a hundred plays on YouTube? So what I'm worried about is there are these games that are being played. There's no disclosure and this is not good for the music ecosystem again. They're forcing this music on people and they're only able to do it because the listening experience has become so passive. In the old days you went and bought an album. You always knew who you were listening to because you had purchased this record with hard cash. You had to reach into your pocket to get. Spotify has deliberately tried to turn the listening experience into something passive. Now is that good for the music culture where people don't know the name of the artist? You see this all the time. Then they'll be playing in the radio and someone will say, "I love that song." But they don't know the name of the artist. They don't know the name of the song. Is this good? I don't think so. And so I worry about all these ramifications that these corporations are trying to maximize their income. And God bless them. I hope they have nice corporate jets and the yachts and the whole nine yards. But what they're doing is not good for the music culture. And that's why there's a certain sense of stagnancy now in the music culture. It doesn't feel like there's anything vibrant happening. And that's by plan. I fear that's by plan that the most powerful people in the world controlling music who are the CEO of Spotify, CEO of Apple, these are the people that actually control music. Now they're not musicians. They're not music lovers. They're taking steps that create the stagnancy. Wasn't the Spotify business model flawed right from the beginning? There's only a certain number of people that can afford to pay. When you have a subscription model like that, pretty much all subscription models eventually run out of people. Well, I ran the numbers back in 2018 when Spotify listed on the stock exchange. I got the public filing. And this is what I do. I analyze all the numbers. I'm sort of a, an analytical nerd and I, I did all the math. And in 2018 I said, this, this streaming model doesn't work. There's no way they can charge $9.99 a month for all the music you want to listen to and make a profit. Right. They will never achieve a user base to do that. Well, it took them 18 years from inception to find out that I'm right. And finally what you've seen in the last year is Spotify started raising prices dramatically. Well, that's all they can do. As did Netflix and all these places, because they realized that the model they had been working with wasn't going to deliver enough cash to pay all the stakeholders. Yeah. And so now we're in a situation where the whole streaming model is built on cutting costs, raising subscription prices, and then playing these little games. And it's, I think it's very ominous that just a few days ago, Netflix announced that they are not going to tell shareholders how many subscribers they have anymore. Well, this is amazing because for years they've been bragging about subscriber growth and we're going to get more growth. And this is the whole engine of our businesses adding more subscribers. The last quarterly report, they said, you know, the subscriber stuff, we're not going to tell you about that anymore. Don't worry about it. Now, what does that mean? It means that they have given up trying to attract the audience and get the audience excited and build it. They're going to cut costs. They're going to raise prices and they're going to play all these crazy games with their algorithms and whatever. And that's, that's sad. So it's happening in movies. This is happening in books. It's happening in journalism and it's happening maybe most of all in music. The musicians are like the canaries in the coal mine. They're the first ones that die and topple over. And after the musicians go, everyone else should say, wait a second. Yeah. That's, because it's going to, whatever your job is now, the same kind of AI stuff is going to happen there down the line. So you should pay attention, even if you're not a musician or you don't depend on the music business, you should care as a fan. But even beyond that, you should care because this is the same thing that's going to happen throughout culture. I'd like to take a second to talk to you about this channel. Believe it or not, 57% of the people that watch here regularly are not subscribed. So I would encourage you to hit the subscribe button now. This will help me get even more of my dream guests in the future. Thank you. Ted, you were talking last night about the music simplifying and that this is part of a very long cycle. Well, I wrote a book, oh, back in 2007, 2008, called The Birth and Death of the Cool. And I was looking at what it means to be cool. This was the idea behind the book. I was going to write a history of coolness. And I had this assumption that people always wanted to be cool and always would want to be cool. This was like a timeless quantity. And what I saw doing my research is that in fact, this isn't the case, that these cycles last 50, 60, 70 years. And there was a cycle in which people wanted to be cool, which they didn't want to be during the Great Depression. That wasn't people like worried about being cool. During World War II, people weren't worried about being cool. But after the war, well, Miles Davis, the birth of the cool and the beatniks and Jack Kerouac and Honey Bruce and the edgy comedians and Marlon Brando and coolness became something important. And then coolness had like a 50, 60 year run and started to die. Probably the first warning sign was when the word cool stopped being applied to people like Marlon Brando or Miles Davis. And it was applied to merchandise. Now it was the running shoe that was cool, or this device was cool. It was a marketing program. Coolness no longer was a personal quality you had. It was used to market a product. And then the whole coolness in society disappeared. A chapter in my book is called America's Lost is Cool. People are just angry at each other. It used to be I'd get together with my bros and we try to be as cool as possible. Now even the word hipster became a term of abuse. A coolness became suspect. And sort of this culture of anger and outrage emerged. It's a 50, 60 year cycle. Curiously enough, I was reading a book by Ray Dalio, the finance expert, his super investor. And he says in finance there's a 50, 60, 70 year cycle too. And he says the reason people don't understand this, and this gets back to the point you were mentioning, is that the cycle generally takes a whole human lifetime. So we only live through the cycle ourselves once. One time. Now if you live old enough towards the end of your life you start seeing a repetition of what happened when you were starting out. Right. Because the cycle is starting to repeat. Now what do we see happening in culture right now is we have had in commercial music a lessening in the complexity of music decade after decade after decade. Right. To the point now most of the hit songs now are these four chord songs. Yeah. If that. If that. You're lucky to get those four chords. And a lot of people think well that's the way it will always be. Even you and I at times we get depressed and we say you know where are the great maximalist songs of the past where all sorts of surprising things happened and chord changes and unexpected interval leaps, where have they all gone? And if I asked you who were the great people at writing songs with this sort of maximalist I'm going to surprise you aesthetic. The names we would come up with would all be dead people or people 70 or older. That's right. So we would mention McCartney or Stevie Wonder. Per Baccarat. Joni Mitchell, Bacharach, Sondheim. And I know many people think well that's that day is gone. It'll never come back. But I believe these things come in cycles. There was a period back in the early 50s when music was getting very simple and then with the Beatles and Bacharach and all that they're getting more complex again. And so if you these there is a cycle and generally the this is the very interesting thing. I got this from a book called The Alchemy of Finance by George Soros. He's sort of a strange guy, but he had this theory. He calls it the theory of reflexivity. And this has been very useful to me in predicting trends. What Soros says, and he's actually became a billionaire using this, he traded currencies. And this was his theory of reflexivity that made him a billionaire. And he said the secret is the trend always goes on longer than is sensible. And it will eventually reverse, but it has to get to a ridiculous extreme before it reverses. So even when you say, well, the songs couldn't possibly get simpler, you know, they can't possibly get simpler than they do. What Soros will say, eventually it has to push to an extreme and then it reverses because people are so tired of it. Right. Now, does this happen in culture? Well, let me give you an example of what's happening right now in the culture. Look at movies. The folks at Disney said, well, all we got to do is a Star Wars movie and a Marvel movie every 10 weeks and we're going to get rich. Right. And that worked and it worked and it certainly just seemed ridiculous. But even at the point where it got ridiculous, they kept on doing it. And then finally, yeah, the box office receipts stopped. I've done the analysis on this and you see the monthly box office in movie business is awful. There was a big burst for a few weeks with Barbie and Oppenheimer. That's right. But that's gone. Yeah. Now, if you go back before the pandemic, the movie business had more than $10 billion in box office receipts from more than 10 years in a row. The way it looks now, it'll never hit those numbers again. And it's because they push the formula to the ridiculous extreme and then it will reverse. And I think that's going to happen in movies. I think it will happen in music. And so people always look at me and say, Ted, you're full of doom and gloom. I said, well, no, no, I'm actually optimistic, but I believe you've got to get to the bitter end of the cycle and then it will reverse. Do you think that the movies and music are on the same cycle or does one proceed the other? I think they are on similar cycles. And so I always pay attention to movies. And I ask myself, what has happened in the past when the formula didn't work? Because I look at, for example, the 1960s. Going into the 60s, there were two formulas in Hollywood that always worked, the Western movie and the musical. And so they pushed these and it was everywhere. When you and I were growing up, there were three TV networks and everyone at any night of the week, you turn on, there would be a Western on one of those three channels. Sometimes there was a Western on two or three of them. It's just Westerns were everywhere. And they pushed it to a ridiculous extreme to a point where even the most devoted fans of California. Glenn East would stop making them. No, even Glenn East would stop making the Westerns. And the musical died out too. You had like the sound of music. And then after that, it was almost impossible to have a hit musical movie. So what happened in the movie industry then? I think it's very interesting. The studios were desperate and they said, well, we've got to take chances now, which we hate to do. We here in Hollywood, the thing we hate to do is take chances, but we have no other alternative. So as the Western died, the musical died, the formulas died, they started doing these edgier films, these grittier films, these risk taking films. So you have things like The Godfather and Chinatown and Taxi Driver. And some people will tell you these were the best movies of all time. But the fact is they were edgier, they're grittier, and they were full of risk taking because Hollywood had no other option. Well, if you look at The Godfather, they tried to get Coppola kicked off the movie many times. The studio hated it. They hated it. Chino, they just, they just, they hate it a million times that nothing worked on this movie. If you're going to do a crime movie, you got to have shoot ups every five minutes. But Coppola understood you needed to do something different at that stage in cinema history. Yeah. I believe we're at exactly that same point now. What's the one thing Hollywood would hate to do right now is anything edgy. That's right. Don't do anything edgy. But that's what the audience is hungry for. So Hollywood is now on a point where they're going to have to take risks and do things that are a little bit different, more ambitious. I think music's the same way. I think music is the same way because you, that same period where you had this risk taking in movies, you had it in popular music too. You know, The Beatles broke all the rules. So it was a period of like five, six, seven years. You could do anything. Yeah. You could do anything in, if you were a rock or pop act and the record labels understood we've got to give these people some freedom. And it drove them nuts to give people like Brian Wilson freedom because he would do crazy things. But that worked once. And I know people don't believe it's possible. I hear people say, Ted, they'll never, these record labels will never let give people creative freedom the way they did in the past. And I said, they will not have a choice. They will not have a choice because the formula eventually dies. When the music industry started to collapse after Napster happened in 1999, and then profits started to decrease after the year 2000 dramatically every year. Absolutely. 1999 was the peak year for the music industry. So then the labels started saying, okay, we need to hire producers that can write songs. Okay. We need to hire, we're going to have less money. So we have to get higher producers that can also mix the songs. And it became these people that Max Martins would spring up to actually can write the hit songs for the artists. They could get the, they could build the tracks, things like that. And they would have these superstar producers. It was the era of that. Now we're in the era where there are seven writers on every sign and eight producers. Nobody can write their own song anymore where there is no Joni Mitchell. There's no Stevie Wonder. There's no people that can literally write a song themselves, or at least no one that's trusted by the record label. It used to be that they had to have their, if a record failed, well, listen, I hired this producer. I hired this mixer and there are people that have had many heads. So I'm safe with my job. Nobody wanted to take a chance to your point. Now we're at this point where everything is done by committee. So it's got to, it has to revert to something else. I think I agree with you on that. And there's someone once told me, they said, there's never been a great work of art created by committee. And they're no literary masterpieces. Probably the only exception is the King James version of the Bible where King James had a committee put that together and it's the era that happened. It was probably divine intervention is my theory on that, that made sure that that got through. But for the most part, when you get the committee, things start falling apart. Now the rule of thumb I have is I look at the song and I count how many chord changes there are, then I count how many songwriters. And if there are more songwriters than there are chord changes, that's a warning sign. That's a, you know, if there are only four chords in the song and there are eight composers, you know, something's going wrong there. But what's really going on there? And to me, this is part of a larger problem. First of all, what's going on is economic in that being named one of the songwriters is to get you a share of the composing and publishing royalties. And so this is almost like the stock options you give somebody. You're hiring a team to run a tech company and you want to get this person involved and you give them a little taste of the action and this person gets to dip their beak. And so what's happening is it's almost like a negotiation over how you're going to allocate the money. And then that shows up as the songwriting credits. Now this, now maybe this makes sense financially, but it's ominous from a creative standpoint. And to me, it reflects the larger change in the music industry that alarms me tremendously, which is record labels are turning into intellectual property management companies, IP management, in that they're not trying to get the next great record. They're trying to build a copyright portfolio, a portfolio of songs. And the people that run these things are bankers, lawyers, and accountants. Now, God bless them. I love bankers. I love lawyers, especially lawyers working for me. I love accountants, but I want people that are guitarists and piano players and sax players and bassists and drummers. These are the people I want involved in the creative end of the music business. Now here's the fact that you're not going to hear elsewhere because it's sort of hidden in the financial statements. Look at Universal Music Group. You said before, they have 32% of the songs out there. What people don't know is they are growing their publishing business five times as fast as their recorded music business. So people look at Universal Music, so this is a recording company. Well, not for much longer because the only thing they want to invest in is publishing rights. Now, what does this mean? Publishing rights means you own part of an old song. You might be buying a song that was written 20 years ago, 40 years ago, 60 years ago, whatever. When you do a recording, you're focused on the future. I'm going to create music that never existed before. I'm going to build an artist. I'm going to build a career. It is very dangerous for the culture to have companies like Universal Music care more about the past than about the future. People ask me all the time, "Why does the music culture feel so staggering?" I said, "This is by design." The people running these companies would rather have you listen to an old song than a new song. This gets back to the AI, especially if in the future they fear that these AI songs are going to steal their royalties. Their response is going to be to peddle license agreements of their old songs. They're going to try to get them in TV commercials or whatever. Once again, God bless them. I hope they make a lot of money and I hope they have the nice flight on the corporate jet and all the things that these execs want. But this is not healthy for our culture because somebody should be investing in the future of music. If all the large companies want is these old songs were in trouble, and it's not just Universal Music Group. Sony's doing the same thing. They just cut a $500 million catalog purchase the other day. Concord was trying to buy this portfolio. All the record companies have lost faith in the record business. This can't be a good thing if you love music. The labels now depend on artists having their own following before they even get signed. And that is a terrible proposition as far as I'm concerned. You have to have proof of concept before they will invest any money in what you're doing. But by that time, why do you need the record label? No. What they're doing fundamentally won't work for them. In the old days, the record labels knew how to launch new stars. It's never been easy. But at least they took care. They tried to scout good talent. They would hire a good producer. They would get good songwriters. And then they would take this new artist and they would invest in marketing. Maybe there was some payloads who I don't know. But basically, they could take new stars and develop them, which they needed for their future. They had to do this. They had no choice. What you see lately is they've either lost the ability to do that or the interest in doing it or probably both. What I see is, well, I actually had an A&R person from a label call me up because he wanted to argue about one of my articles. And I was going back and forth with this guy. And at one point he said, "Ted, I got to admit you're right. We would never sign a new artist now unless they already had an audience on TikTok." Right. Basically, he was saying, "We don't have a clue how to build a career. We've got to find someone who's already doing it." But what benefit is there for the record label at that point because they're going to have to give away the store to sign up that people. That's already half right. It's already half right. And you know, back in our day, you got a record contract. If you got 10, 15% royalties, that was the best you were going to possibly do. But nowadays, they have to go to these TikTok stores and say, "We'll give you 50%." That's right. And after five years, you're going to Masters. And they have to give away everything to get these people because the label has no leverage. The TikTok star does. That's right. So they're fundamentally pursuing a strategy that's not going to work for the record label. What they should do, what they should do is once again, I'm going back to this movie industry analogy. They should be willing to take risks. They should build up their ability to identify promising young talent, sign them, nurture and develop that talent and create the next generation of stars. That would be good for them. It would be good for the musician and it would be good for us as audience members because we have something exciting, something new, something fresh, something different. And not just we're going to peddle the license deal of a song written 30 years ago, which is, you know, about as exciting as Day Old Bread. You have a sub-stack that I subscribe to and I encourage everyone to subscribe to Ted's sub-stack of the link in the description. Thank you. So what's the difference between having a sub-stack that you write on a really frequent basis as opposed to writing a book nowadays? Are books still as important as they were? Well, every aspect of our creative culture feels like it's in crisis right now. It just feels that way and it feels that opportunities are disappearing. I'm constantly reading about layoffs at this magazine, this newspaper, and obviously in the music industry as well. Spotify just did layoffs. The record labels did layoffs. Everybody's doing layoffs. The culture feels like it's in a state of crisis. But there is some good news there that I don't think is widely recognized. And I call it the battle between the macro culture and the micro culture. Okay. Okay. Now the macro culture, I mean the big legacy institutions, Sony records, CBS, Disney, or even someone like Spotify. These are big, huge enterprises, New York Times, whatever. These are enormous. Now the micro culture is people like you and me. Right. We're out there doing it on our own and for a long time we're so small people don't even notice what we're doing. But the fact is there are a lot of us now and we're growing. And some of us are growing quite rapidly. And so I've been telling people is 2024 is the year when the micro culture is going to triumph over the macro culture. People don't recognize that the audience is shifting. They want what you're doing. Obviously they want what you're doing. I hope they want what I'm doing or people like us because we have a little bit more freedom. We have a little bit more flexible, a little bit more flexibility. We're a little more frank. Maybe we are a little edgier. And so getting back to my own career, I'm now working on a platform called Substack, which allows writers to run their own writing career. And Substack takes care of all the details for me. They'll send out my writings to an email list. They'll keep track of the list. They'll charge subscriptions. They'll do metrics. And I get to publish whatever I want. I can publish whenever I want. I own all the intellectual property. If I leave, I get to keep my email list. Everything they do is designed to empower me. And then I'm able to take it and run with it. And so this allows me to have a successful career in the micro culture while the macro culture is collapsing. Now let's look at your end of the world. So you're doing it differently. You're like on YouTube or whatever, but check out this fact. I think this is very revealing. The total ad revenues on YouTube now are more than the total revenues of Netflix. Oh, yeah. That switch over happened about 18 months ago. But people look at Netflix as one of the largest entertainment companies in the world. And when they think of people watching video entertainment or assimilating things through a screen, the first name they think of is Netflix. But in fact, the micro culture is now larger than that. And in fact, if you look at all the big platforms out there, they're all built on this micro culture thing. This is how Mark Zuckerberg gets rich. He's not posting this stuff on Facebook. Right. He's got 500 million people doing that. That's right. What Google is doing with YouTube, they're not out there putting these videos out. You're putting the videos out on me on Substack. And people look at it and they think it's, well, there are just these large companies out there, but these large companies are based on this vibrant macro culture. We used to call it a counterculture. And I think that name should come back, but I think there's a lot more happening in the culture now that is healthy, that's successful, that's growing, that's buoyant, that's risk taking. The next step has to be for the large companies to recognize this and try to either work with people like you or me, or to try to develop something more like that themselves. Because they're so unwilling to take risks. I mean, you'll do a video and you'll come up with some idea and I'm just going to do it. I mean, you talked to me last night about some of the things you're planning to do and you're like, I'm just going to do it. And I do that. I just sit down and I'm like, this is a crazy article. I'm just going to publish it. And these large companies are so scared of doing that. But what they need to recognize is there's a turn in the culture. It is vibrant. There are things happening at this micro level, this alternative level, this alternative culture is out there. And it's actually the success story, it's the healthy story, and it's the pathway for the future, even for the large companies, when they finally wake up and start doing what they're supposed to do. People ask me, Rick, how do you know when to publish things? Why don't you publish things on the hour? And I said, I publish things, I publish my videos whenever they're done. It doesn't matter when they're done. And my interviews are all different lengths. There is no standard length interview. An interview is as long as it needs to be. Absolutely. Well, you know, I was getting on the plane to come here and I said, you know, I should publish an article before I get on the plane. And I said, I don't want to get up earlier in the morning. I'll just publish it one in the morning, you know. So I publish it in the middle of the night. Now, everyone would tell, I can't do that, Ted. You can't publish your article in the middle. I don't, you know, I actually think my readers like the unpredictability of what I do because they find it refreshing. And it's in a stagnant culture. And I do believe many aspects of our culture are stagnant. This is what the hunger is for. People want surprises almost. I mean, I tell people I would rather get a slap in the face than to see a Marvel movie just because the slap in the face was right. Oh yeah, that woke me up a little bit. And I think a lot of people are feeling that way. And so in many ways, the best thing you can do at this stage in the culture for a creative person, and I know a lot of your audience, our creative people out there, is take risks. And now that you're forced to do it on your own, because the institutions aren't helping you anymore. Universal music isn't helping you anymore. New York Times isn't helping you anymore. You got to do it on your own. Well, that's a burden, but there's an advantage with it because once you take responsibility for your own creative ventures, nobody can stop you from doing that risk taking. And that's what's going to save us. One of the topics you wrote about recently is what's called one of your sub-stacks, how coffee became a joke. Now I love to drink coffee, and you love to drink coffee. And this is kind of not necessarily a topic that you would write about normally, and I found it really fascinating. Talk about that for a minute. Well, I write about almost everything, but mostly music. Probably half of what I write about is music, but the other half I write about almost anything. And it has to be something related to culture, and often sometimes movies or books or whatever. But the other day I was looking at Starbucks that announced their results, and it was abysmal. The revenues were down, the profits were down, same store sales were down. I like to go through the numbers, but this was just a horror show from start to finish. And I started asking people I know, "How did Starbucks falter? They're selling an addictive substance. I mean, how stupid do you have to be not to be?" You know, when we went to high school, there was like some guy in the class that was like this stoner, and all his brain cells were burned out. But even he could figure out how to deal drugs. Even he had enough brain cells still operating. If you're selling an addictive substance, you should be easy to find a way to make money. But Substack, article on this coffee thing, it all came back to the fact that the coffee sales were declining. So I started asking people, "Why did Starbucks falter?" And some people would say, "Well, the prices are high or the economy is soft." But a lot of people said, "Joke, these drinks, the mermaid frappuccino." And I was talking to my son, and he's saying, "Well, dad, the worst one is this new coffee they have mixes coffee and olive oil." I said, "What do you mean? No, no, no." Yeah, it's unbelievable. It's called the oleo-hato, and they mix coffee and olive oil. And he said, "Eventually, they're going to have to get rid of it, but they're still in the stores." So I did this article how coffee turned into a joke. And I started with my own life story where when I was a kid, my parents gave me coffee when I was in the cradle. Couldn't believe that. And my dad, when I was like eight years old, he would give me a cup of dark rose before I went to school. And when I was in fourth grade, I decided I was going to launch a rebellion. So I told my dad, I said, "Dad, I'm not going to do this anymore. I'm a kid. Kids shouldn't drink coffee." And he sort of looked at me and he said, "Children need something warm in their stomach before they go to school." He wasn't talking about oatmeal or Quaker Oats or anything. A cup of dark rose is what I needed. And the fact is, I can laugh at this, and I don't know if it's good to give kids coffee. I don't know. But I do know, I attribute a lot of my success to this because I would go to like fourth grade and I would just rip through those multiplication tables and the spelling bee, and I'm just, all the other students are like sleepy-eyed. And so anyway, I wrote an article on this, and it was a very successful article. And when I put it out, I said, "Can I write an article about coffee?" I'm a music critic. For heaven's sake, what am I writing about coffee? But I do think people want to hear the honest story. And if there's something that interests you or interests me, the best thing for us to do is to run with it, is to take the things that excite us and interest us and bring it out to the audience. Well, as soon as I saw that you were writing an article on coffee, I said, "Oh, what's Ted have to say about coffee? I want to read that." I went, my 11-year-old Layla today said, "Can we stop at Starbucks on the way to school?" And I said, "Why? They have some new drink out that's like a bubble tea thing." So I was like, "Okay." I said, "It's that blue thing?" And I said, "Layla, you should never drink anything blue." She's like, "Okay, I want to..." Well, blue does not exist in nature except in the sky. You have your food products. So we stop and I get her this thing. And all of a sudden she takes a few sips. She says, "This is terrible." And she hands it to me to put him in the cup holder. And I said, "What's bad about it?" She said, "Everything." And I just laughed and I thought about your article about this. She said, "It's sweet, and it tastes awful." Well, this goes back to what we're talking about, movies and music. I know people think, "Well, this coffee thing is very different." But in fact, how did Starbucks falter? And they faltered because they thought they had a formula figured out. They had come out with this sweet drink called the Frappuccino that everybody loved. And they said, "Well, we got to do more sweet drinks." And then they just... It was like the Marvel movies at Disney. And they just kept on churning it out. And it got to the ridiculous point. And then it got to this period of reflexivity I'm talking about. It was more than ridiculous. And then finally, the sales start going down. So they'll have to retrench. They'll have to go back to making more serious drinks. It started with the pumpkin spice latte though, didn't it? Which had no pumpkin in it. I mean, that was... Something was wrong if they call it the pumpkin spice latte and there's no pumpkin in the drink. But this is... It's a lack of gravitas. It's a lack of seriousness in the culture. And I think we all suffer from that. So I think coffee is a sign of it. I think the music is a sign of it. I think the movies is a sign of it. You can't reduce things to a formula. You really can't. Once you start doing something over and over again, you get called the Bob diminishing returns. And I think this is a problem in culture. Now I had this guy came out to interview me the other day. And this was funny. He flew out to my home and he's writing for a big magazine. And he said, "Ted, I want to write this and I need to talk to you because you're the best expert in the world on this subject." Now, what is the subject? What is the subject I'm the greatest expert in? I got music or jazz or I can go to books or something. I'm trying to think what can I buy? How to pick up women? What am I like the greatest expert in the world on? And he said, I'm writing an article about is society in decline? I'm like, what is I'm the expert on? I don't know what it would be. To be insulted or complimented. But what I told him, and this is important, I said, you got to realize that we look at the long history of decline where the Roman Empire collapsed or whatever. But in fact, the more common thing in society is not decline, it's stagnation. It's stagnation where for a long period it seems like nothing new happens. There are long stretches of the Middle Ages. That's right. I know some medievalists are going to get angry at me. Oh, you know, the middle. And I love the medieval era as much as anybody, but still there were long stretches of the Middle Ages where nothing changed. And if you have the Roman Empire, in fact, the Roman Empire lingered on a long time. That's right. You know, the barbarians came to the gate and then they left and there's just nothing happened. And so I do think that there's a risk, not that we're in some sort of situation of collapse, although I don't rule. I know people say there's going to be a civil war. I don't rule that off. But in fact, the more prevalent risk, the more dangerous risk is that as a culture, we're entering a long period of stagnation in which everything got reduced to a formula and the formulas start to feel boring. And so that's what links what's happening at Disney, where the stock dropped 10% day before yesterday, what's happening at Netflix, where they won't tell you the subscriber numbers, what's happening at Universal Music, where they want to own just old songs, what's happening at Starbucks, where the no one wants to sickly sweet drinks anymore. So that's a risk. And so how do you get rid of stagnation? It goes back to this microculture, people taking risk and they're going to do work at the low level because you work for these big companies. Heaven forbid, they would fire us. That's right. We show up, they fire us before lunch. These big Marvel action movies and the use of multiple people, you can't just, it's kind of like the multiple songwriters. They can't just have one person that's the lead actor, actress of a movie. They need to have five different ones that are all these characters, comic book characters or whatever they are. Same thing as we need eight producers on a song and seven songwriters. That's it. It's like the Justice League, you know, songwriting. But it goes behind the scenes, too. There's too many cooks making the meal now. So you have these different protagonists and each of these stars wants a certain amount of screen time and their agents are getting into the mix. But then there are all these decision makers from the studio, too. I know some people that work in the entertainment industry and they just think it's a horror story. It's impossible to have a creative vision get all the way through to the end product because there's so many bureaucrats interfering at every step along the way. And so this is why the real vitality is going to come from the lower end, you know, where people that are willing to take risks, they really are. And I think it's actually starting to happen. The problem is, is it's not recognized in the organs of the mainstream media. It won't get written up in the New York Times. It won't get mentioned on CBS News or whatever because the people that run those institutions are sort of locked into the macro culture. Right. They're all in New York and they all talk to each other and they don't understand the vibrancy happening in the culture at that grassroots level because I see what your subscription base is doing. It's doubled since I was here. Yeah, that's right. I'm doubling my subscription base. And so clearly there's an audience out there for us, but we're taking risks. And also, and don't underestimate the importance of this. We're trying to talk honestly because what's the big crisis in society right now? What's the biggest scarcity? It's a scarcity of trust. Right. The surveys show that everywhere. People don't trust the media. They don't trust politicians. They don't trust universities. They don't trust the experts. There's a crisis of trust out there. If people go to my sub stack, it's called the honest broker. Right. And I don't pick that name frivolously. And it's a burden. If I say that I'm the honest broker, there's a burden on me to speak frankly and not dodge around things. And this is, I think, the secret sauce right now. Probably the secret sauce for you. I know it's a secret sauce for me is I'm trying to develop a relationship directly with my reader, just like you are. You're having a relationship with your audience. And it's almost like a one-on-one relationship with each one individually. I have this thing, and I stole it from Kierkegaard. He always talked about that individual who is my reader, which is interest. He's writing books and maybe a million people read the books, but he views, I'm talking to an individual, each one. There's a relationship going there. And so I now try to write like the way I would talk to you across a table. And even you and I, this is interesting. Your viewers at home don't know this, but we were at dinner last night and the conversation we had then is pretty darn similar. Exactly like this. That's right. We don't filter it. We get in front of the camera. Right. We don't filter it. That's right. We don't filter it. Not very much. We don't filter it. And that's the secret sauce now is to have that honesty because people want something they can trust. And if you fool them, they will not come back to you. So that's got to be the standard we aspire to. And I did this article about the crisis of trust and I came up with a list. I asked myself, why would a writer lie in an article, say something they knew wasn't true? And I came up easily with a list of 20 reasons. Okay. What are some of these? I will lie to please my editor. Okay. I will lie to get clicks on the article. I'll lie to protect a source. I'll lie to help a cause. I'll lie to help a political candidate. I will lie to get tenure at the university. But I easily came up with more than 20 reasons. Now I can't measure how prevalent those are in society, but I have a hunch that this is happening more than it should. Right. And so that creates an opportunity for us on the micro culture is if we just speak from the heart and try to call it the way we see it, doesn't mean we're always right. You know, I'm wrong. I will, but I'm not wrong because I'm trying to mislead. I may be wrong because I didn't figure out what was going on, but I will then own my mistake. If I can talk honestly, I think that's, that has done more for my writing career than anything, honestly. My writing has benefited from talking directly with the reader one-on-one and trying to speak as frankly as possible in a very conversational mode. It's interesting because when I first started my channel, I didn't know anything. I've never been in front of a camera before. I never talked to a camera, but I thought, where do you actually sit? Do you sit in the center? It's like, well, that's kind of how people would look at you. You can use the thirds rule and be on one side, documentary style or whatever. I was like, no, I'm going to sit in front of the camera because that's how people would talk. And you just look directly into the camera and you talk to it like it's a person because you're talking to the audience in that way. And that's how you build that bond between people. And then I thought to myself, well, I can't take money for, I can't be shilling products or anything. First of all, that's not my personality. And then who's going to believe what I say about everything if I'm trying to sell you on something. So I never did any endorsements or anything except for my signature guitar from Gibson, which I give all the proceeds to charity. And that was the only way that I had agreed to do that. But I think that people know when they tune into my channel that these are my beliefs. I don't temper them to, I get people mad at me for certain things if I will criticize an artist or something like that, or just give my honest opinion on it. But at least they know that it's my honest opinion on it. And it's not based on me getting rewarded for it by some company. Absolutely. And you and I know there are, we're both critical of the music industry and we've both said a lot of critical things just in our conversation here, but they're also people we trust in the music business. And when I look at someone like Manfred Eicher that runs ECM records, or there are handful of people like this that I trust these people. I trust these people. And that's the basis of my financial relationship with them. So I will buy the album, but I know that Manfred Eicher is not thinking, how do I maximize income from Ted? If what Ted wants is not what his vision is, well screw Ted, because he's committed. And that's the other thing, and people often ask me this, I talk about art and how important art is. And people say, well there's no real difference between art and entertainment. How can you really, you may think something's artistic, but who are you? Who are you to judge? No, no, no, it's very important is that entertainment gives you exactly what you want. That's the entertainer's job, is I'm going to give you exactly what you want. But the artist doesn't operate like that. The artist makes demands on you. That's the essence of the artistic experience. And because of those demands, you go into an artistic situation, it may be different than what you expected. And the upside is if it works, it was mind expanding, it took me somewhere I would have never gone on my own. If I had just demanded entertainment, they would have delivered something that was going to be up to formula and absolutely expected. And so I'm always a big believer in these people that make demands on me. If I trust them, I want them to make those demands on me. And this gets back to the issue of the algorithm, because the algorithm is in this entertainment area where it will just feed people again and again what they already have consumed. Because the algorithm is a backward looking mechanism. It only can tell you what song to listen to today based on what you listened to last week, last month, last year. And I think algorithms can be great. I think that sometimes they're useful, but we also need some force in society that embraces new things. And so I need to have a chance of having this mind expanding experience where something new came to me that was beyond anything I'd heard before. I would not find that on my own. I need the artist to challenge me. And so we need more of that and the people out there that do that get my respect, they get my support, and they'll make money from me too. But the beautiful thing is I know that's not what drives them. I know that's not what drives them. You had an article recently where you talked about how culture is changing at warp speed. What do you mean by that, Ted? Well, absolutely. What we've got is an interesting situation where there does seem to be this sense of stagnancy and a sense that everything we've seen before, even the elections are reboot. I mean, our election is going to be a reboot. And wherever you look in society, it looks like things have sort of slowed. But I do think what we're seeing now is these companies are being forced out of their comfort zone because what has happened hasn't worked before. And they're embracing these technological solutions in which they want to change all the rules at once. AI is a classic example of this. Virtual reality is another one. Companies are putting huge bets on this. And they want to use this to change the culture immediately into something that they can monetize. Now, interestingly enough, this is all part of a shift from what I call the active culture to the passive culture. And so I would say the active culture is, once again, in the past, you would go to a record store. You'd go through all the records, but choose this one. And then you would go listen to it, and you would be fully informed. Now, the passive culture, and it's happening everywhere. The algorithm is the classic example of it, is you don't have to make a choice. The choice is made for you. And so they can shift you wherever they want, at warp speed. Listen, you're going to listen to Johann Rohr today. You're going to listen to Jenny Jones tomorrow and Bill Smith the day after that. And the next extension of that is going to be virtual reality. Yeah. What are your thoughts on that? Well, you truly become a couch potato at that point where the whole experience is just coming at you and you're just, you're totally passive about this. Now, I don't think this is a terrible thing. And I think it might have some sort of benefits and uses, but when your whole cultural experience becomes passive, there are risks that come with that. And example I'll give is when I go to Spotify now or to any one of these platforms, they want to send me to these playlists that don't have even any artist names. It's like, this is jazz for studying. This is classical music for relaxing. This is rock for partying. The playlists are all these generic things and they're embedded in youth situations in your life. And I fear that this is where all some of these games are being played. So for example, I will find these jazz playlists on Spotify. Now I think I'm considered, I don't think I'm being immodest to say I'm considered one of the world's greatest experts on jazz. So if I see a jazz playlist, if I see a jazz playlist and I don't recognize any of the names of the artists. That's not a very good playlist. Something is wrong going on here. And so this is the ideal of these large companies now is they'll use the AI, they'll use the virtual reality, and they'll use these other new technologies to constantly push us wherever they want us to be on that particular day. But this is what leads to a sense of banality to the whole experience. Because I don't know the name of the musician, I don't know the name of the song, and it's all just coming at me in a very passive way. This can't be good for the culture. Now let me give an example of what I think is positive and people will be surprised to hear me praise Taylor Swift. Ted doesn't look like a Swifty, but I think it's very healthy the fact that the biggest musical event last year, or even ongoing now right now, is the Erised Herb by Taylor Swift. She is doing 152 concerts on five continents and she's selling them out. And this is a billion dollar business. A typical fan going to one of these concerts, average is spending $1,300. That's the average of what they're spending for this whole experience of going to the Taylor Swift concert. In some instances they're spending $5,000, $10,000. When she appears in Singapore, people fly into Singapore. That's not a cheap place to visit. They fly into Singapore. So people are coming from other countries to see this. And this is revealing, because what could be more old school than a live concert? And so we're supposedly in the digital age and the most exciting, most financially lucrative thing happening in music right now isn't something happening on the internet. It's not a record sale. It's not somebody streaming. God forbid, it's not AI. It's a real artist going out there and connecting with their fans directly, just like that. And I think that's great. The only thing is we need more than just Taylor Swift doing that. We need the whole music culture there. Because last week somebody told me that Taylor Swift had the top 14 slots on the Billboard chart. I'm not saying she had the top of the 14. All of the first 14 tracks were Taylor Swift. To me, this isn't like shopping in North Korea. I don't know if you saw this Conan O'Brien thing. He went to Cuba and he went to this market. And these markets in Cuba, there's one brand of everything. There's only one brand of beer. You have to get that brand. There's only one brand of soup. You got to get that soup. There's one brand of tomato sauce. And Conan had this great thing. It was so funny. He's going into the store and he asked the proprietor, do you have the XYZ brand? And it's the only brand there. The proprietor is so relieved. Yes, yes, this is the brand I have. Well, Taylor Swift is like that in music now. It's like the only thing on the chart. And I think she's having a positive impact, but we need more like that because this is the antidote to this whole passive thing. It's an active experience of the fans connecting with the star they love. Well, the thing about Taylor Swift is it's taken years for her to develop her career. Many records over a decade and a half, a couple of decades now. It takes a long time to develop an artist's career. And with the fast pace of society and how quickly people tire of things, it's difficult to do that. Well, this is the hard thing. They call it the sophomore curse where your first album does well and then the second album sort of fills us out. Because you used up all your good songs. Used up all your good songs. And it's aggravated by the fact that the record industries have lost patience in building a career. And I go back to Manford Eichor at ECM where he has some of these artists on the ECM label. He's been recording since the 70s. He's here at 71, 72. But some of the ones that are obscure that have never had a hit record. That's right. But you'll keep on recording them. And this is, we need to have producers and record labels that believe in artists and are willing to take chances and build the career because you're not going to get the Taylor Swift if you only give people a little chance and, oh no, we'll go on to the next. I was telling you about Bruce Linville who was telling me that his biggest regret in his career was he didn't sign Ava Cassidy. Tremendous singer, died at cancer in her early 30s and then became super famous after her death. But there were so few recordings. And Linville wanted to sign her, but then he asked some advice from other people at the label and, "Ah, you don't want to, you don't want to sign Ava Cassidy. She doesn't have a style. She just sings all sorts of stuff. She'll do a soul song or jazz song. She doesn't have, everything she did, she did amazingly." But they didn't like the fact that she didn't have some simple formula they could market her as. And so Linville decided not to sign her. And then right when she was dying, he realized he'd made a mistake and she'd called her in the hospital, but she was, this was like the last days of her life. And he told me, he said, "Ted, I made a mistake. My mentor, John Hammond, wouldn't have done that." You know, Hammond discovered Dylan Springsteen or Retha, going back to, you know, Billie Holiday or what I mean. John Hammond was a legend at discovering talent. And what Hammond had told Linville is if you believe in an artist, you fight for them. You fight for them with your life. You put your life on the line to fight for them. And that's what creates great stardom. I remember when, I'm old enough to remember when Dylan came out. I was a kid, but I remember the adults mocking him because of his voice. You have this gritty voice and they just thought it was so ridiculous. But clearly that deter John Hammond from pushing Dylan. Well, he eventually won the Nobel Prize in literature. So Hammond knew what he was doing. But this, we need people like this and we need to build the careers. And you're right, Taylor Swift, she built this over the long haul, starting from when she was in high school. That's right. She was in high school. And I worry that the infrastructure and the music industry is not supportive to talents to get them to that stage anymore. Platforms like YouTube, Instagram, TikTok are places that people can go and put either parts of songs or songs out there. Develop an audience and do whatever you'd like to do, you know, with no editorial board telling you, "No, you can't write that. No, you know, we have to have a lawyer check this out." Of course, YouTube has its own law, you know, own rules on the kind of things you can, that you can put out. But for the most part, you can make videos on whatever you'd like. And your channel can be as varied as it like. You can write about whatever topics you'd like. It's just governed on whatever you decide to do, what interests you. What interests you now, Ted? Well, I'm always excited about discovering the next musician that's doing something fresh. I devote two or three hours a day listening to new music. I was wondering about that. And I make a priority of listening to music from artists I've never heard of before, from all over the world and in all kinds of genres. Do you take notes when you're doing that? No. I just soak up the experience. And a lot of it is not very good. I'll admit there's a lot of bad music out there. But during the course of the typical week, I'll listen to 20, 25 albums. And there's always something that week that gets me excited. And I try to, at the end of the year, I publish my 100 best albums of the year on Substack. And I always have 100 albums there that I get excited by. And so this is what keeps me fresh and vital, is listening to music and finding new things that are happening out there. And there's this idea that there's no great music out there anymore. But it is. The problem is it's almost entirely coming from self-produced and indie albums. They're not coming from the record labels, the majors. The majors are not coming up with anything interesting to me. It's very rare I hear an album from a major label that gets me excited. And periodically I do a round up. I'm going to publish one in a few days. These are 9, 10 recent albums I like. Surprising number of them are recorded at home. People recording in their bedroom. So that gets me excited in jazz nowadays. And I try to do the same thing with ideas. I devote a huge amount of time reading every day. I'm considered a writer. I spend more time reading than I do writing. People ask me, "Well, why do you do that?" And I said, "Any process you have in the world, your output depends on your input." And the problem we have is the society doesn't care about our input. And it should. Your boss never says, "What books are you reading? What newspapers are you reading? What movies did you see? What music are you listening to?" The boss doesn't care about that. The boss just cares about the output. But the boss should care about the input. Because if you're not learning new things and coming in with new ideas, the output is not going to be very good. So I manage my input. I have very ambitious goals for input. I spend most of my day reading and listening to music. And then I'll do two, three hours of writing. But the thing is, I need the input to have the output. And so I tell people all the time is if you want to increase your creativity level, your productivity level, whether you're a writer, a musician, or whatever, you need to pay very close attention to that input and try to optimize it. And so I'm always trying to invigorate myself. I'm trying to get something in my head that's fresh, that's new. And so that makes every day interesting. There's a thing of fluid intelligence versus what would be crystallized intelligence. And people that fluid intelligence, I guess, would be people being able to improvise, for example, and crystallize is people that use their life experience to come up with ideas. If you're John Williams or something and you're writing and you're 92 and you have a whole lifetime of experiences to write, I tend to like people's improvisations when they're younger in their career. There's something about, I've always thought that people that are 30 and under, maybe it's that because the Beatles did their 13 records and broke up the year that Lennon and Ringo turned 30. But before they even turned 30, they had broken up and they did all that music before they turned 30 years old. Something about pop songwriting that favors people that are young. Now, you can have the exceptions, people like Tom Petty that wrote many hit songs in his late 30s and his 40s. And there's many artists that we can find these examples of. But for some reason, to me, improvisation favors people that are younger. You have people like yourself and myself that are in their 60s that have a whole lifetime of experience that we're building upon. What advantages does that have over young people? Well, this is interesting because we're involved in the music world, which is sort of a young person's game. And I know it's been true for me that my audience of readers really didn't begin growing until I was in my 40s. And then it grew more in my 50s. And I remember the day I realized that I published this book called The Jazz Standards. And I got this growing review and I'm in my 50s and it was starting to position me as sort of like this tribal elder who had who had withstood the wars and come out the other end. And I thought, maybe this is going to be my destiny. And then my readership really took off in my 60s. I'm in my 60s now. Now my readership has taken off and your audience is growing. And I think this, I'd like to think this testifies to a life well lived and we've learned things from our experiences and we're trying to convey them. It doesn't mean that the youth doesn't have something to contribute as well because there's some things we need youth for. And I do think a lot of the creative breakthroughs always come from young people. But we have an opportunity as advisors to the culture or curators or being willing to offer harsh criticisms or words of encouragement. I think in a situation like that, the cumulative experience is tremendously beneficial because I have to say, I mean I often ask myself, why didn't I have these opportunities when I was younger? I wish I turned down, I'm not going to mention names, but in the last three, four months I've been approached by a dozen influential institutions. Will you write for us? Will you come give us a talk? And these, when I was in my 30s, I would have killed, I would have killed to have these invitations. I don't have time to do, I have to turn them down. I don't have time. And I always ask myself, why didn't they come when I was younger? But the fact is, I was not prepared for those opportunities when I was younger. What I needed to do needed the time to develop and I needed the time to get the input and the experiences and to mull things over. So I do, I'm not saying, I don't like living in a gerontocracy where all people control everything. I don't think that's healthy and we need to be developing the next generation. But I do believe that there are some things you get from experience and from putting yourself into learning situations over a long period. And I try to draw on that as much as possible every day. You might have a hypothesis on something and then you say, okay, I need to do the research on this to see if that's true. You do that a lot probably, right? You can't believe. I mean, for example, I had this idea and I have been researching this now for two years. Okay. Maybe I'll get an article out of it. But the idea is that what's happening in society now is mirroring what happened in 1800. Okay. Let me walk you through this. 1800, in the 1700s you have what's known as the enlightenment or the age of reason, where everybody tried to do things rationally or algorithmically and everything is done by rules, by these great systematizers who are like entrepreneurs or like these tech companies. And so in the enlightenment, everything was rational. And then there was a rebellion and the rationalists never thought it was coming. They never saw it coming. People were saying, well, wait a second. You say it's rational, but you set up these factories and they're like sweat shops. And eventually there was a decision that we need more of the culture driven by artists and creative people. So around 1800, you have Beethoven, pure. He's a celebrity, right? He's more famous than the entrepreneurs or the bankers or the industrialists. Just 50 years earlier, check this out, 50 years earlier, the leading composer in Europe was Haydn. He had to wear servant's clothing. When he worked for the Esterhazy family, he had to work dressed like a servant. He was scorned. He had to give all his intellectual property rights to his boss. And now you have Beethoven who's a celebrity. And so all of a sudden, poets become more famous than politicians. Someone like, people can't imagine how famous Lord Beimron and Shelley and Keats were. And this was a reaction against a society that had gotten too cold, too rationalistic, too algorithmic. And then these artists started creating great benefits for human beings because they were humanists. So they're the ones, it was in the 1820s, finally, you get a laws against child labor. This is where you find your laws against slavery. And so you had a shift from rationalists and industrials ruling the world to creative people. So my theory is we're going to the same thing right now. You have these tech titans, they control the world. What we need is more of a creative humanistic spirit. And that a lot of these tech platforms now feel manipulative. I feel the sort of a command and control things, things I wanted to do on Facebook, I can't do anymore. The search engine results aren't as good as they once were. Or Twitter put this new rule in and it just, it feels like the rationalist algorithm that society is getting too constraining. So I'm going to get back to your question. I decided 18 months ago that I needed to learn what exactly had happened with the rise of romanticism in the early 1800s, when the culture had shifted from rationalism to more artistic and creative pursuits. I devote at least an hour, data studying this. And I'm reading through Carlisle's The French Revolution and all the books by William Blake, the poet who called the factories, the dark satanic mills and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. This was like a critique of tech. You have these scientists and they create a monster. This is so applicable. But anyway, I have immersed myself in this sort of historical question I have. Who knows? Maybe I'll get an article out of it. I don't know. But I will have things like that, where I think this is a fruitful path of inquiry and I will devote months and months to learning about this because I think it will guide me in what's happening now. See, it's not just I'm interested in history. It's no, I want to figure out what's going to happen in our society in the next five, 10 years. That's what, that really excites me. I view myself as a futurist. I have a very good track record in predicting. I'm surprisingly good track record in predicting. And so I will devote immense amount of energy to try to understand how these situations played out in the past. I think the same thing happened 200 years earlier, where you had... You're talking 1600s. Yeah. Now you go where you had the biggest boost in the economy back in that period was colonialism. Right. So you went to the new world, your presaro and Cortes, you bring back all the gold and you kill a million people or whatever. But over in Italy, you had the Renaissance with like Leonardo and Michelangelo or whatever. And I say, who do you want to be? Do you want to be on the side of Cortes and Pizarro? Or do you want to be with the humanist and the creative people like Leonardo and Michelangelo? I believe that happened around 1600. I believe it happened around 1800. And now I believe starting in 2000, there's this new era in which the rationalist forces in society have gotten too powerful. And the only thing that can save us are creative, artistic, humanistic people. I say all the time, the problem with progress is people think progress is a new technology, but you and I were talking about how bad the upgrades are. My phone is not working or this or that. And what we realize is that true progress is human beings flourishing. And maybe we've reached a point that the people running the tech companies aren't the right people to get us to where we need to be. For humans to flourish, we need sort of this humanistic creative artistic belief. So my hypothesis is in 1400, this happened, in 1600, this happened, in 1800, this happened. And now in 2000, we've got this next phase. I know I haven't written this down and I may never write this down, but this is the way I think. And so I'm constantly immersing myself into these connecting threads between what's happening today and the news today and these historical and creative studies in what happened in the past. How do people even learn this stuff? I mean, you have many degrees. Talk about your, talking about your, your, you started out as a jazz pianist. Well, I have, I have probably the best education money can buy, but I have to say it was the best education student loans could buy. I didn't have, I didn't have them. I didn't come from a wealthy family, but I did get into Stanford and I got an English major there. Then I got a scholarship to go to Oxford where I studied philosophy, politics, and economics and got an honors degree there. And I will brag that I beat out 12 Rhodes Scholars on my exam. I got a first and the 12 Rhodes Scholars got second. And then I went to Stanford Business School to get a marketable degree in MBA. All this time I'm playing the piano. I mean, when I was at Oxford, I was gigging every night and I studying philosophy during the day. This is like my dream life. That's where the coffee comes in. This is because what makes me happy is, is, is balancing reading and music and creative stuff and analytical stuff. But the fact is most of what I make my living on, I taught myself. Interesting. And I think that I never took a class in jazz. I would have, but I never went to an institution that offered a class in jazz. And so I became a jazz pianist and I started writing about jazz. That's my main claim to fame. And then all this analytical futuristic things that where I'm able to forecast the future. So this came out of business school. I started working for people in Silicon Valley that wanted me to predict the future so they could make money. How is this product launch going to go? Or how is how do we solve this problem? And so a lot of what I've done, and I never expected this to happen, is I just took the analytical tools I was doing to analyze financial and business situations and applied it to creative and artistic things. So that's why when Spotify goes public, I analyze the financial reports because I'm good at this. I can go through these Securities Exchange Commission filings and find the secrets. You know, when I was telling you earlier that a universal music group is growing their publishing business five times as much as the recording business, because I dig into the fine, they don't want us to know these things, but I dig into the financial reports. But basically, I have a life that makes no sense because I did all these different things, but somehow they started to fuse together in sort of a holistic way. And a lot of that is just luck. But you get luckier if you force yourself into new situations outside your comfort zone. That increases your luck over time. Could you have done this, though, without the internet? No, I could not what I'm doing now. And I think you probably feel the same. The internet has been a curse and a blessing. It's a curse because it's destroyed a lot of the institutions that creative people depended on in the past. In the old days, I would have probably been a jazz critic for a newspaper. Those jobs are all gone. They used to be everywhere. Every city had two or three full-time jazz critics working in newspapers. If there are five left in the country today, I'd be amazed. So the internet took away, but it took us away, but it'll give us to do us as well. What the internet did allow was direct contact with the audience. And that turned out to me to be more than what I gave away because that's what I always wanted was that connection with the individual, my reader out there. I wanted to have that direct contact. So what I'm doing right now, I could not have done without the internet. So it's a blessing for me, but I'm fully aware of how disruptive and destructive the internet has been for many creative people. So I try to prepare them. And I always tell people learn from the opportunities out there. And if you're a musician or a writer or whatever, try to connect with people because you can now with the internet, you connect with people all over the world, maximize that. If you had to give a student advice, somebody is going to go to college for a degree next year, what are the areas of study people go into? Well, there's a big push that you should do STEMs. You should supposed to do science, technology, math stuff. But as you know, I've got this hypothesis that the next generation of leaders are going to be the creative people. I agree with you. And I think the AI, the first job, this is the karma of AI, is that the techies are pushing it on us. But the first jobs that are going to disappear are going to be the tech jobs, programmers or whatever. So I don't tell people to do tech unless they really believe in it. I always say you wait for the career to find you. If you have a mindset that there's a destiny for me in this world, and you go out each day looking around you, you will see people are needing what you can give. If you have blinders on, where I'm going to be a lawyer or a scientist, whatever, you can't see it. But if you have a more open mind, you will see there are places in the world where you are wanted. And it matches your skill set and your interest. And I always tell people don't be a musician or a writer or whatever, unless that calls to you. And then you choose. You never, I'm sure you didn't do this. There was no point in my life I put together a piece of paper of being a jazz musician or a music writer or whatever, the pros and the cons. If I had done that, I wouldn't have gone down the path. There weren't enough pros on the one side of the page as empty. The other one, you starve. That's not how you make the decisions. You make the decisions because you feel this. There was a point in my life I thought, I'm not choosing this. I have to go into the music path. This is calling to me. And so I would, with my sons, I have two sons, I didn't tell them what to study. I said, "Follow your bliss, follow your happiness." My oldest son did a major in history, which doesn't seem very commercial. But then he got a law degree at Harvard. He's getting a PhD in Columbia right now. And he's passed in the bar in New York, Harvard Law. We can do whatever we want. But he's decided he's going to be a professor. And I don't give him any advice. His plan was much better than anything I could come up with. And then my youngest son, who loves Bach, plays Bach all the time, but he got a degree in philosophy. And I didn't, other parents would tell me, "Why did you let your son study philosophy? This makes no sense. Well, it makes him happy." And then he taught himself finance. He's got a successful finance career going now and is still playing Bach. And I told both my sons is, "Follow your heart. Listen to your heart and soul." So that's the advice I give everybody. And if they do that, they will not be let astray. In my 20s, I taught jazz studies for five years after I finished grad school at NEC. But I thought to myself, "Well, this can't be my last career." I love teaching people, but not at the college level. It was too political at the time. I left that because I got signed to a songwriting publishing deal as a songwriter. And then moved to Atlanta in 94. And then I taught guitar lessons at a local music store. So I went from teaching at a college to teaching in a local music store. I taught 12,000 lessons over the course of from 1994 to 1999. And then I started a rock band and I got signed to a record deal that lasted for about three years or so. In that time period then, my side job was to start producing records. And the band has one shot at making it. And then when you do, and the chances of making it are very slim. And then the band had their one shot and we didn't make it. And then I'm a producer. And then you work with a number of different artists. And yet, most of them have one shot to make it or maybe they're on their second record. But then I felt like, "Okay, well, I'm really dependent in all these situations on other people." Either the people you're in a band with, the people you're producing, if they have the right song or if they don't implode for some reason, or if they're not good performers or whatever. They have a record that the label doesn't believe in and they don't promote it. Up until 2016, when I started this YouTube channel, this was the first time that what I did, my success was based on me alone. And that was the most empowering thing. Well, it took till I was 54, till that happened. But there was never really an opportunity for me. I mean, I could have tried to make it as a jazz performer, but jazz at that time in the late 80s, early 90s was starting to become... The music of unemployment is what brings half a call back. Jazz is the music of unemployment. But I kept following music all along and trying to... But my whole goal was just to learn. That was it. Just keep learning. Well, what you did and what I did and what I always advise people to do is when you had decisions to make, you took past that brought you outside your comfort zone. Right. And I did this too, and it's scary at times, because you could keep doing what you've already been doing because you know it. And it's hell, but it's the hell you know. Right. You know? But we want heaven, and so we took the leaps. And so I think in both our instances, we're stronger at what we do today because we had the circuitous path. And at many junctures, we went outside our comfort zone. And that is something I advise... That is one thing I did advise my sons. I said, do not be afraid of jumping into something that just seems far afield from anything you know. You will be grateful later that you did that. And so this is a useful life lesson, but also it's just... It's how you build your job skills. It's absolutely how you build your job skills. And there's something that's sad, but society wants to put each of us into a pigeonhole. Right. It decides very early in our life, you're going to do this. And it's a very tight, constraining situation. And most people are not like that. And particularly talented people aren't like that because talented people have an ability to go off into different directions and to develop different capacities. And so this is a battle each of us must fight because the system is never going to give us easy pathways outside of that box. We have to fight our way outside of the box. And you'll see this, we were just talking last night about a drummer that can also play the piano, or you'll have somebody that is good in music and then makes a movie and they're good in movies too. And you're like, wow, but that's what talented people are like that. This is not like lightning striking. If you have people that have that kind of talent, talent is more flexible. And so the right decision is always the decision that takes you outside your comfort zone. How long do you see yourself writing for? Well, that's always a good question. I still feel excited and invigorated every day by what I do. And I will write as long as I'm filming, I'm writing at a very high level. So if I feel that I'm repeating myself or it doesn't seem fresh, then I will step back then. But right now, I feel that I've been given this, it's a privilege. I was telling you about Jerry Seinfeld, who? Seven years old, I think. Somebody asked Jerry Seinfeld in this interview about George Burns, who he admired George Burns. What did you learn from George Burns? And what Seinfeld said moved me. He said, "George Burns taught me to love this business, who love comedy. The people are great. The audience is great. It's a privilege to do this." I feel that about music and writing. This is an amazing privilege. So as long as I feel that I love this, I've been given this opportunity, and it comes with a responsibility too, but that actually makes it better. I feel I have a responsibility. I'm trying to have a positive contribution to the culture. In my own small way, I try every day to have a positive contribution to the culture. And then we're both mentoring other people in our fields and all that. And so some of those things are going to continue to the duration. Even if I stop writing, there's a whole world out there for me to mentor, guide, advise, and there are all sorts of other things out there. It's possible I would transition from writing to something else at some point. But I love the music. I love the writing. I love the interaction I have with the readers. And if I have my way, it'll last a little while longer, let's hope. Well, Ted, when you wrote your article about coffee and talked about drinking as a kid, I always would say to myself, "Man, how is Ted so prolific? He has all these interesting ideas. He's putting out things all the time." And then once I saw your article on coffee, I said, "Well, that explains it." Well, it's like me showing up in fourth grade and I got that caffeine running through the system. So people will say, well, I've talked about the age of enlightenment. People will say that the age of enlightenment in Europe was based on coffee being imported into Europe. Before that, people would go have a beer in the middle of the day, and then they switched to coffee, and economic output grew, and books were published. So don't minimize the impact of caffeine. That's right. Don't underestimate it. I am a huge lover of coffee, and that's how I get my day started. Well, Ted, I really appreciate you coming in today. It's so wonderful to sit down, talk with you again, and look forward to the next time. Well, this is always fun. I had a blast the last time I was here. I was delighted to come back. And yeah, let's do it again. Excellent. I'd like to once again thank Ted for being my guest today. Remember, hit the subscribe button, leave a comment, and thanks for watching.
  4. Yep. The 'nostalgia' element if key. Ask anyone about their favourite music and they'll usually refer back to stuff from their teens and early twenties ... those formative rebellious young-adult years when we absorb everything around us and share so much of our own generation within the echo-chamber of tight-knit friends.
  5. I really enjoy reading your posts ... so few people make the effort to write well in forums. Also, nice turns of phrase there @VoiceEx ๐Ÿ‘ - a lighthouse in an unforgiving ocean - a dam around your own pond - the one's that migrate and work as a pack who get the lion's share [though, as an ex-Zoologist, I found that really WAS a mixed metaphor ] - Why jump head first into the fire, when there are plenty of volunteers? With such smooth fluidity, I doubt you ever have problems generating lyrics! Greg
  6. Hi @VoiceEx - thanks for joining in. Another perspective always helps spread the issue for closer inspection. Yes, horses ARE still ridden, but only as a hobby, and only by a tiny % (at least in the cities/'burbs). Cars replaced horses ... (I originally wrote 'overtook', which is both funny AND true) ... 'overnight', historically speaking. >> ... if a person ... built an audience ... for its creator Yes ... for LIVE performance, BUT gigs/venues are drying up due to practical commercial reasons. Meaning increased competition amongst the artists for dimishing opportunities. >> ... generated content becomes the new "norm" "Hey, Norm!!" (Cheers) Even in 2023, pre good quality AI, trying to get 'heard' in the streaming multiverse was next to impossible. So take that 2023 situation and dilute it x10 or x100 with AI-generated stuff ... the 'streams' become raging rivers/oceans, themselves solely promoted by the platforms to the exclusion of us mere mortals seeking our fractions of a cent per play. Even elephants in the room (and dinosaurs like me) sadly accept the situation. It is what it is. Of course, there's one thing I have NOT addressed. Many of these new AI developments like ElevenLabs are not yet available to the general public. Is it just a scam to get investor money? Are all the examples/reviews fake? Can anyone tell anymore? It's a funny old world with some strangely motivated humans. I'm gonna get out 'at ol' ghee-tar and sing mah-self them ol' "Technology Blues" verse 1 Woke up this morning, Couldn't get out of bed. My woman done gone and left me, For a robot with an AI head. and so I'm singin' ... chorus EI - EI - EI - O Where did she go? I'll never know AI- AI - AI - no It played and sang, and made more dough.
  7. I DO embrace it ... as you can never put the genie back in the bottle ... and am imagining possible futures. But my initial Topic premise was ... why is no one talking about it in these Forums? ... except for us two, of course Greg ๐Ÿ‘
  8. Hey John. I've always admired your upbeat (150bpm?) approach to the music world and that you've never jumped aboard my cynical thought train ... perhaps you've always known about leaves on the line? AI is never better described than by the old aphorism: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic Most people regard songwriters/musicians as people with 'special' skills. However such skills work using slow biological processes. Some say it's unqiuely human. However I think it is piecing together music from what we've heard (from the womb onwards), intuition and skill (innate or leaned). AI benefits from electronic/light computing speed, petabytes of 'knowledge' tokenised for quick re-assembly, and not needing coffee, external pressures, or 'validation' of a fragile ego. In response to prompts, AI music generators are already providing full lyrics, human vocals, and genre-based rhythm amd instrumentation. Imagine within 12 months you'll be able to say: "Slow, melancholy singer-songwriter song in the style of Billie Eilish about climate change. Mix some metaphors about the loss of beauty and also loss of love. 6/8 meter. 80bpm. Key of Gm. Light percussion. Structure needs to be Intro-Verse1-Verse2-Bridge-Chorus-Break-Verse1-Bridge-Chorus-Outro. The instrumental break needs to feature flute and violin against an orchestra and choir. The last closing chord of the Outro needs to start at at 4:25 and have at least a 20-second tail without a fade so I can fade it out myself to suit whatever visuals are chosen." And such systems will also have 'in-painting' (like image AI) where you can, using additional prompts, delete/add/extend parts or seek new alternatives to a part. You said: "I can see larger productions still using real composers where there is a PR advantage to do so, and that is largely going to be down to the name of the artist." But the ugly side of capitalism is that increasing profit by reducing costs will always trump other considerations. And if YOU don't take the cheaper path then your competitor WILL. All the large movie/streaming production houses are under pressure to reduce costs now that the market is saturated. Why would anyone have used John Williams (his fee, plus a full orchestra plus recording facilities)? Because he had the skills and could deliver, and it was 'affordable' despite the dollars and turnaround time. But now those motifs have been analysed, an AI could generate 100 laternatives "like" The Imperial March by John Williams. Hans Zimmer's Remote Control Productions currently has a 100 staff who curate/collate libraries of sound samples and synth patches for him to use ... slow and expensive (i.e. human). I can imagine him investing in his own Large Language Model to learn that massive database for future work ... perhaps 100 staff becomes 5? New music could then be auto-generated by prompts and refinement, or else by filling his synths with relevant leads and pads according to his request for 'mood'. Or, having done a 4-bar new piece by brain/hand, he could then get the AI to extend it this way or that to create a complete soundtrack. The big musical stars and celebrities of today have a higher turnover than ever. The majority of listeners couldn't care less who writes/performs anything. And already many big 'stars' and influencers on Tik Tok are actually themselves completely AI-generated. Another fine mess, Ollie! Over to you, John, for cool wisdom to dab at my fevered brow .... ๐Ÿ‘‚ Greg
  9. I've now spent 50 years with technology either working in IT or, since I retired, watching developments and just using it, e.g. for home production of music, video and images. While I'm used to the pace of change and occasional breakthroughs, I've honestly been stunned by the very recent rapid surge of change in chip architecture, AI, robotics and quantum computing, all seemingly intertwined. Previous commentators had smugly said that human creativity would always be โ€˜safeโ€™ ... but such predictions have proved worthless. You can now simply describe what you want and then find something you like from an avalanche of quick results, or else choose one result and refine it further. For me, this started in 2023 to images (MidJourney 5, Dall-E3, etc.) and writing (ChatGPT4) , and now in early 2024 for video (Sora, LXT) and music (Suno, Udio, and now 11ElevenLabs). And most scary of all, each of these developments is a BIG advance over previous versions and the competition. E.g. Sora does 60-sec video clips, while Eleven Labs delivers songs of 3mins+. The majority of Songstuff folk are musicians/somgwriters/producers, so check out Udio and 11ElevenLabs ... they aren't even released yet at version 1! I'm stunned not only at their speed of song delivery from a text prompt, but also at the quality of the components/mix. To recreate any of their examples would take me hours (and that's without the writing!) and no way could I do better job. They use multiple instruments, song arcs, and lyrics that interact with the musical rhythm. Admittedly, the examples are quite generic and genre-specific but, hell, most of the listening public are NOT into complexity or subtlety ... they just want something they 'like' and can tap their feet to. And how much better will they be in 6-12 months? Why would a film company pay $'000s for rights to your music for the soundtrack when they can specify and tailor exactly what they want, basically for pennies. Why would Spotify/Apple offer an open marketplace to attract you and me when they can generate thousands of tracks themselves and then fill/promote the relevant playlists, earning both streaming and royalty revenues. Yes. No one is going to pay to see AI in a live gig (... yet!). I don't know what it's like in YOUR country but, here in Australia, 50% of the annual Music Festivals have now gone broke ... red-tape/licenses, Health and Safety regulations, insurances, security, staging costs, inflation, etc.. There's also steady stream of music venues closing their doors after decades of featuring new and established acts. The touring musicians themselves face sky-rocketing costs of travel and accommodation. I'll still get pleasure from playing for myself and friends, and listening back to my music productions (did I REALLY do that?). So ... unless you have some ideas to the contrary ... I reckon the old idea of music and music creation is well and truly f*cked. Greg
  10. I LOVE internal rhymes ... seems to happen regardless of what I'm trying to do. Here's the 2nd song I ever wrote back in 2001 (the week after 9/11), sitting in a cafe and wondering WTF was happening in the world while life (and coffee culture) seemed to be going on as normal. Released on a 2002 album (my first). I re-arranged it and home-studio recorded in 2022 ... music video below. THE CAPPUCCINO CROWD Words by Greg Barnett Woke up this morning, need my cappuccino To get those grey cells circling round The local caf' is calling me all that stylish company The real cool cats from all over the town Earl Greys and Cabernets The conversation's loud The dulcet tones of mobile phones Gotta be part of, the Cappuccino Crowd From Christmas to Easter we visit the barista Greeting friends and strangers with a wink and a smile Chocolate and pastries, savouries and tasties Discretionary spending with impeccable style Lattes and canapes Nothing ordinary is allowed People waiting for the tables, in designer labels Want to be part of, the Cappuccino Crowd Pretty girls in a social whirl Exercising freedoms and self esteem Always time to chat and to chew the fat It's so passe if you're not part of the scene Sipping cold beer with a phone to your ear Eager to make a splash Following the trend to spend hours on end And all of your, cappuccino cash Bertolucci and Fellini, focacias panninis Exotic cafรฉ culture blows your troubles away Global disasters donโ€™t affect your choice of afters The cappuccino froth helps you get through the day Our worldโ€™s unsavoury for certain, thatโ€™s why we draw the curtain And the talk gets turned up loud Our private cafรฉ where we turn a blind eye to despair And move on with, the Cappuccino Crowd
  11. HA! I'm still waiting for my 'masterpiece' ๐Ÿ˜Ž For me, it's always trying to match the visual 'feel' to the sonic 'feel'. While lyrics do have some influence, I've had to do a lot of instrumentals too. But, despite whatever you can imagine, you then have to compromise a LOT depending on what clips are available or can be shot yourself. My videos are always 'story'-based ... no arty, jaggy, experimental stuff for me. I just don't think that way. Mora Amaro La Loba is an expert in made-up visuals/effects that are perfect for her songs. PS. Would you mind also linking to this topic from the Music Video CLUB.
  12. >> There is no songwriting viagra. ... so there's no way to stiffen my resolve? >> Our relationship with creativity is very similar to our relationships over all ... well, THAT explains a lot ... I HAVE been married for 44 years!! ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜Ž Greg
  13. I applaud @john for trying to keep us all motivated with occasional Writing Challenges. Alas, with my own dinosaur reflexes, even if I was in the mood, it would be a long cold winter of the soul before I could generate any meaningful response that I would be willing to push into the Songstuff spotlight. Instead, I would be far happier to offer an existing song (if relevant) in response to any topic that gets raised. For example, I have songs specifically about climate change, the environment, mental health, surveillance, the daily grind, orgasm, war, childhood dreams, my home country, stalking, etc., etc.. Note - specific topics other than love/infatuation and heartbreak. [PS. I went to a songwriting feedback/critique workshop several years ago. Of the 30 or so attendees, 95% were under thirty. As the baton was passed around the circle for individuals to each play their song to the group, they ALL introduced it along the lines of "I wrote this about someone I had just met ... " or "I wrote this about breaking up with ... ". On one hand this proves the universality of a subject/emotion that touches us all but, to my mind, you have to be a genius to say anything new or interesting about it.] Any general interest in this approach? Greg
  14. Hi Don I'm not metal-head, but this is a great song I've enjoyed for years. Nicely PLAYED by you ๐Ÿ‘ How many mics were used? To my ears the drum SOUND (all the various kit parts but especially the snare) doesn't quite fit sonically ... too 'thick' and too far forward in the mix ... possibly requires more attention to EQ, compression and reverb? But that's only because I'm familiar with the original. Congrats on 1) a great project, 2) the video, and 3) buying half the drums ever built Cheers, Greg PS ... your post title should be Metallica and not Mettalica ๐Ÿ˜‰
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