There was a time - before interactive cellphones, high speed internet and on-demand everything - when movies were more about quality than box office positioning and music was a connection fans had with a particular act as they journeyed through albums growing and exploring new ground. Think Beatles, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Peter Gabriel and U2 - you get the idead.
That sounds like a world away, huh? I can think of a number of classic artists who would have never released anything beyond a debut if they had come of age in the late '90s or this century. Cheap Trick is a famous example used by critics; the band's amazing self-titled debut was ignored. You still never hear anything from that LP, even on classic rock stations.
It wasn't until the band's third album they sold anything and scored a hit. Today, if an artist signed to a major label doesn't create a buzz or go Gold from the start, a major label is likely going to cut the chord.
That's one of the reasons I love writing the Orange Pop column for the Orange County Register. It runs just about every Friday (including today, where Michele Rene is featured). Here are artists who aren't selling millions of CDs. In fact, they are likely doing pretty good if they are selling hundreds. But they are doing it because they have no choice; the music matters to them and when it comes to playing original music in So Cal, getting paid is no given either.
This fall is a promising time to go out and see some of these real artists. Sure, the celebrated likes of Aimee Mann, Doves, U2, Paul McCartney and Bruce Cockburn are all coming to town either this month or next, but be sure to check out my column to get wind of the underground. You can read it at www.ocregister.com.