Kyle Bylin, Associate Editor — (Read Part 1)
In Chapter Two: How Big Spenders Got Rich in the Post-CD Boom, you commented, “The business was evolving from small-time guys who packed their products into crates themselves to an international network of distribution executives with MBAs.”
Followed later by, “Pressured by debt, he and other corporate types started to demand that the music unit function like every other unit.”
What’s the danger in trying to treat music like other products, where if “advertised” enough via MTV and Radio, sales can be hammered out in an attempt to exceed quarterly projections?
Steve Knopper: Well, selling music isn't the same as selling soap. You can't just roll out a product when the timing suits you and you need a hit. We've seen that over the last couple years, as labels have waited desperately for hit artists like Eminem, Guns N' Roses, Green Day and Dr. Dre to finish their albums during the past few crucial fourth-quarter holiday shopping seasons. As I report in the book, it was in the '90s that labels realized they couldn't just sign talent and wait for years and years for it to develop the way they could in the early days of Springsteen and U2, for example. By the '90s they were owned by massive public companies like Sony and Vivendi, and those corporate overseers demanded quarterly results. I believe there is a direct cause-and-effect between that mentality and the one-hit wonders that popped up around that time, from Third Eye Blind to Chumbawamba to the Spice Girls to Hanson to the entirety of teen pop.