Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Bill King: Where’s The Traction?

More than any moment in history a steady diet of information and misinformation is being served up in inexorable dosages – a rare portion nutritional. Through cutting cable nearly six years ago I assumed I’d devised a path to limit the damage. At the very least I was able to deny CNN and FOX News and their talking parrots precious time to mess with my general upbeat nature. We’ve endured enough bad April weather to expose the mind to another winter recession without the portent drumbeat of twenty-four hour “Donald Drumpf” sonic soul-shellacking about the ears.

Monday morning I awaken to the big reward (the gift) – three world-beat scandals of monumental proportion – The Panama Papers – that private one percent club of offshore tax havens where dictators, politicians, drug lords, and soccer stars stash illicit proceeds - compliments tenacious hackers and diligent journalists who exposed 11 million insider documents – The Unaoil scandal – oh where o where did those middle eastern petro “war” dollars go – and the D.C. Madam Deborah Palfrey story, the queen of a high price exclusive escort service who died from what is signified a suicide hanging in 2008 after threatening to release call logs of former political and celebrity clients - some 10,000 phone numbers. Those logs are about to see daylight and further crazy-up an already bizarre news cycle and presidential race and together with other scandals heighten the call to take action against imparity between the leisure and working class.  This is delicious stuff!

Monday night I’m back in class as ‘artist in residence’ at The Harris Institute and always curious what millennials are up to – you know, where do they get information or misinformation. Every time I hear the word “millennial” I begin to imagine some alien entity packing mysterious codes meant to unlock the mystery surrounding the demise of the music industry – the universe or just that fraternity where money used to cling.

No such luck! This generation are just as confused and broke as we are. In fact, they are looking to us for answers. Just south of us, Democratic presidential hopeful and ascetic Vermont senator Bernie Sanders is already a rock star – a favoured bearer of hope and readjustment among the twenty-somethings.

In music circles there’s this ongoing debate – is it Spotify, blogs, playlists, YouTube, archivist – where and how is music getting traction – how does a band or artist get rolling in a fractured climate as such? Here’s my take – who the fuck knows? It’s a free for all! We are all connected and disconnected and that’s pretty much what I’m getting from the next up and running generation. The answer is the same as it always was – this shit is a hard slog. Hop the band bus and get rolling.

Probing for clarity, one of Canada’s well-known and beloved jazz singers called in desperation the other day– you see, he used to sell music – folks bought his recordings – and now, he’s left housing a garage cramped with worthless jazz plastic. Prior to Juno’s big night there’s singer Alex Pangman on CTV news recalling how she sold at least a 100 CDs per performance and now she’s lugging a full bag of dead weight around and trying to figure out how to survive in a diminishing business.
This political season could be a determining factor. Keep in mind there is a suspected 31 trillion stashed offshore of which a portion of those unaccounted tax dollars could surely restore a bit of world confidence and heath.

This appears to be a make or break season – probably the most pivotal year in the past fifty. Politics is evenly divided between the raging crazies and the good earth people. Canada got a head start electing a vibrant, connected and astute young leader in Justin Trudeau. There’s a sense we can relax a bit.

The U.S. election is monumental in terms of direction. The next president will in all likelihood nominate four Supreme Court justices setting the tone for the next half century. The viability of earning a living in the arts could hinge on a number of copyright rulings. Who pays the creator – the artist – and how much or just general wage - workplace enhancements and protections? This may be the forum that favourably settles a number of technical disputes.

As far as my six year absence from that 500 channel universe – my mental health has been restored. Now, let’s pause for some soothing Ray Donovan!

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