Apathy Killed the Asian American Star And Some Random Thoughts

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Doing my rounds on YouTube I happened to catch this video by GT of a-tunes.net who's also a blogger down at MTV Iggy and I thought I would post it up because it definitely makes you think about the recent conversations of Asian Americans in the media (I guess that's always a topic though).

Here's the info from the YouTube vid:

So I decided to give vlogging a try and I realized I talk WAY too much. I apologize for being so verbose, I'll work on it for the future =).

Anyways, the point of the video is this: Support the music you love, because we, the consumer can shape the market for Asian American musicians.
What I found particularly interesting was the part about how we listen to music and how that can affect artists from the API community and I started to think about my own habits as well as my overall opinions on music distribution.

The music industry has changed - I think we all know that - and the same types of markets that existed 10-15 years ago - hell - even 5 - just aren't the same anymore and music companies - those behemoths we sometimes love to hate - have to find new ways of distribution - and profit. In that sense I think we've all said once or twice "I'm not paying $20 for that Celine Dion album" (o.k - maybe we all haven't said exactly that, but you get my picture - and no - I actually have never bought a Celine Dion album).

It's like I sample a ton of music - YouTube, MySpace, the artist's site - anywhere I can sample new music I will - and I think you have too now - it's just a part of the industry - the ever changing industry - and a new way to market. If you can get 20,000 people to listen to your music via these new vehicles of electronic distribution and you can get 2% to buy the album - there's something to be said for that. It may not always work out like that - but there's a potential to reach more people now more so than ever. At the same time just look at how games and music are joining together to give another new avenue for music - even old music (can anyone say the Beatles?) - it's just a different way of getting it out there and while I know the gaming industry isn't going to tap indie artists - maybe there's a DIY movement for underground games featuring indie artists with the same model.

I guess my point on the above is that you have to adapt - you have to change - and I definitely believe that when it comes to the music companies - just like I do newspapers and other media outlets.

But there's that flip-side too right? I mean if large music companies can't get sales the "old-fashioned" way - how does the indie rocker get it done? If people are downloading music left and right of the latest Ne-Yo hit, and he's only getting 50% of the sales he might have seen (but those people might not have bought it anyway) - what does that say for the independent labels and musicians?

It means it's tougher for them in many ways (and I say that because I do believe niche markets can prevail when it comes to sales of any art if the base is supportive).

I'm kind of getting off track here - and probably not following a straight line - but you should kind of get my point that it in effect it's trickle down economics.

But I think there's a way - at least in some respects - which is just going out and making sure to buy the albums. Listen - I'm not going to preach about certain things - because I listen to as much free shit as I can - but - I also buy a lot of music from Asian artists. iTunes, Amazon, old school - I'm going to buy it if I like it - especially if it comes from the community because I understand I get a lot of shit for free and when it comes down to it - if I don't support them by actually buying the music - even if it's just a song - I know that in the end - they may not be around to keep on making music - and I gotta tell ya - if I couldn't pop in some of my favorite artists from the API community - life would kind of suck ass - because I gotta have music. I gotta have that vibe. And I'm not rich - I do o.k. - but I still think about bills, job security - all that good stuff - but I can also drop some cash gambling - or even say going through drive thrus to pick up food ('cause I like a smorgasbord and after I hit 3 places, there's like $25-$30 bucks right there - and I'm talking from the dollar menu people).

You kind of see my point? Shit food that's just going to make your ass bigger - or supporting Asian American musicians? If you take a look at your ass every now and then (and I do because I can't miss that fucker) - you'll kind of start setting some priorities.

So to wrap that last part up here's the quick breakdown. If you don't buy Asian American music but yet gorge yourself to death on the dollar menu - just take one week off a month and support an API musician because your ass and your ears will thank you later on down the road when get a little slimmer and you also have some new music to listen too.

Now all that being said - I do think there's more to it - which is the part of race and how it plays into who and what is accepted as mainstream music. Think about it this way. Even in Asian countries they still have to put up with music piracy, people not buying through traditional models, etc. - but yet they still have their stars - their #1 chart toppers and they're Asian. And while you might be saying to yourself "Ummm...it's because everyone's Asian" - the point is about acceptance on where you're from.

Same thing here in the U.S. We have chart toppers and people selling millions of records. But - they aren't Asian American. Why? Definitely in part because of race. I've had people who've said to me (who are White btw) that there will never be Asian American rockstars on the same level as White musicians because they say they just won't be accepted.

And to me that's the larger issue because technology will always change - everyone always has to adapt - but some things - it's much easier to start getting people to buy music off of iTunes versus getting them to accept an Asian American rockstar or Top 40 hitmaker.

We can go into the reasons why - but it'll be nothing new that already hasn't been said - it's a part of where we still are and what we have to overcome and I think once we start to see people accept Asian artists just like they do other artists - we'll see more and more API music getting the dollars they deserve.

But I think we're making steps too - just look at people like Mike Shinoda, Meg and Dia, FM - it's happening - not as fast as I think we all want but it's coming along in some ways and there's definitely something to be said for that too - so to all the musicians out there in the API community and the Asian artists bringing the vibe to the states - keep doing what your doing - because if you don't no one else will.