After posting the I’m With The Band! Really? article on my Facebook profile I received some very interesting comments that I believe will further advance the discussion. So I wanted to present the comments here in hopes that they will resonate(pun intended) as much with you as they have with me.

Erica Streat-

There’s all sorts of things going on here. Firstly, I think it’s a combination of money and ego, the primary culprits in the deterioration of music. And not just mainstream music. You can barely keep a good group of musicians together on an independent level without egos flying and spats over money. Also, from a practical standpoint, it’s just easier for record companies to deal with one artist, “groom” them and throw in some musicians to back them up. Groups like P-Funk and the Grateful dead are anomalies. Most don’t enjoy that type of longevity. I think we will see the return of the band but only as an extension of the artist. Maxwell’s latest effort is proving there’s a demand for that sound and I’m hopeful that labels will take notice and put players back on records. But I think the black band, as we once knew it, is dead.

Ivan Orr-

Great insight Erica as always. Yes the ego is a huge culprit. I think you hit on a point that is at the core and it has a lot to do with how this particular audience has been socialized over the last 30yrs. A band is truly an anomaly for many of the reasons that you have outlined. But what I’m still wondering in the final analysis: Is where did that determination ultimately come from? Was it the market, the industry or the musicians themselves that forged the path of self-destruction of the band concept? Was it an intentional or unintentional collusion of all three? As you stated a lot has to do with the money…


Tom Butler-

It’s a sign of the times…lol….it’s our society. We don’t even gather as families the way we used to when I was a kid. Mavericks? We have become increasingly more narcissistic,even as musicians.

A person can write, produce, and record songs all by themselves. No longer needing to collaborate with others, the artist gets to feed his ego by being able to say “I did it ALL and I did it MY way”. The music usually sounds like a demo and lacks the “life” that only a group of musicians can give. Technology supports this now more than ever.

Now in walks “Mr. Capitalism” record exec, he quickly recognizes that its easier and cheaper to deal with a single individual than a group full of people. He is only interested in how much money he can make and as soon as possible. So he encourages the situation…the fewer people to pay…the better. No encouragement to develop the music for arts sake…for longevity…. Society is catering to the individual and the business is cutting costs…

Erica Streat-

I definitely think it’s intentional. As far as the industry and musicians are concerned, money is certainly at the root of it. And to an extent the market has driven the demand for solo artists as well. Our society is infatuated with celebrity. Look at the countless TV shows, blogs, etc. dedicated to just following celebrities. We love the SUPERSTAR! And every star has to have a blog, twitter or something to satisfy these cravings. It’s an ugly beast that we’ve collectively created. Question is, how do we tame it?

Ivan Orr-

Let me say that I really appreciate you all weighing in on this, it so important for all of us as creators and practitioners of this music. Yes, we have become increasingly narcissistic as a society and as musicians.

We live in a very celebrity obsessed society today where people extol their worth with catchphrases like “Google Me” or “Do you know how many people follow me on Twitter?” Shows like American Idol feed this Walter Mittyesque infatuation we have with instant.

I guess where I am with how we may be able to combat some of these elements is by working to change the mentality a few folks at a time. As this industry goes through its current flux(and it’s always in flux) the one thing I can’t escape is the importance of the experience of the live event.

To me, that’s what’s most important because that’s what’s most real. So I will put my money where my mouth is and I will come out and see you this year Erica and Tom let me know when you want to put a band together to play.

John Wyatt IV-

Well, so many factors have played into the decline of the black band. 1st technology delivered a major blow. Once label heads realized a keyboard could do horn parts..there went the horn section and so forth! Also, some artists got “lost” in technology.,.i.e. Stevie, and we’re never able to recover.Just look at his Pre-Hotter than July work compared to his post Hotter than July work! Prince got the 1st Linn drum in 81. Cause it was rare he was able to work wonders with it. In 91 he threw all his drum machines out cause everyone was using them!

2nd labels HAVE always looked at black music as being disposable! Every time a group does well, the labels want to separate the singer at some point to do a solo project or go solo. Because this has ben an on-going trend, most singers see performing in a band as a stepping stone for them or just want a band to back “them” up!

 

Ivan Orr is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, performer, and writer. A native of Charlottesville, Virginia Ivan was involved with the forming and nascent days of The Music Resource Center as its first Program Director. A graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Department of Music, Ivan currently resides in Richmond, VA where he maintains an active performance and production schedule while serving as the Music Editor for Grown Folks Music, a position he has held since 2010.