When Jehnny Beth, singer of Savages and co-founder of Pop Noire Records, made public the latest edition of her radio show on her blog -- "Songs About the Music Industry" -- we simply had to reach out in the hope of hearing a bit more of her thoughts on the subject of the music industry from the perspective of a strong artist and someone who co-operates her own label. Lucky for us (and you), she was interested. The industry is something she and her band have earned a doctorate in over the last year and change, drawing critical hosannas and performing their stomping serrations across the world. Below, Beth expands on her thoughts over the industry, the art it has inspired and, maybe, a path forward for both sides of the aisle.
After listening to Bob Dylan's "Theme Time Radio Hour" I was inspired to start my own series where I could talk about music and regroup songs under a specific theme. Nothing serious really, just something for the fans that I enjoy doing. I record them from home, or sometimes while on the road.
For this fourth episode, I selected songs which were written specifically about the music industry. I thought it was funny and intriguing that the relationship between artists and the music business could become the subject of a song.
When I started my research, I realised there were thousands of songs in lots of different genres, sometimes entire albums, written on the subject. I was interested to see how each artist would talk in their own style and wit, often with an underlying sense of humour. These are the tracks I enjoyed the most and felt comfortable talking about -- but there were many more I could have mentioned.
Although some of these songs have often been criticised for being "anti-entertainment" -- or simply not very good ("Paint a Vulgar Picture" by The Smiths was called the worst song Morrissey had ever written when it came out) -- I think they are still worth having a listen to. Whether we're an artist or working in the music industry, we know making mistakes is unavoidable. It's the way we learn not to repeat them that is important. Breaking the taboo is the first step, and I think that's exactly what these artists have been trying to do.
If you read my blog it wouldn't take you long to realise that my personal relationship with the business has known some ups and downs. In fact, I am probably what we call in the milieu "a number one pain in the arse" -- but truly I'm only interested in progress. One thing I've learnt over the years is that progress must come from both sides. What if a song is a good place to start?