[Hall & Oates] had been in the traditional music business for over 25 years and in the mid-90s it had changed so drastically that it really didn’t have much to do with us and what we wanted to do and how we wanted to do things. The record labels became very proactive with artists, in terms of choosing material and deciding what they were going to be and what type of music they should make, and that really was completely one-eighty from the way we approach music and how we grew up in the business.
In the ‘70s and ‘80s they let us pretty much do what we wanted and they figured out a way of marketing it and that was the kind of the paradigm that we operated within.
I’d read this sort of commentary before, but it usually has more of the flavor of “the labels don’t nurture the artists like they used to.” This slant on it is different and perhaps more accurate. Increasingly in the past few years I’ve seen calls for band demos that dictate the sound the artists should have, such as “Looking for male singer-songwriter with Jack Johnson lyrics and John Mayer guitar sound” or whatever. Instead of relying on A&R scouts to find something original and interesting happening in the clubs, the labels have already decided what copycat sound they want to release next, and are out looking for someone to be good impersonators.
Some of my in-the-know friends would probably make the argument that that’s always been the case, more or less. But it feels more like truth than ever. If you’re a true original, major labels are probably not the place for you.
Yes, I know, the icon is Daryl, not John. But I don’t have a John icon, nor do I want one. Daryl is so much nicer to look at.