Sunday, June 22, 2014

Wonderful World, Beautiful People. And Loads Of Accountants

Before you get all jiggy in the comments talkin' about how white American people can't clap along, I think I should warn you. That's not an American audience. It's not even an audience. Jimmy Cliff, like any wedding singer, needs work, and he'll play at the Holiday Inn lounge if his agent tells him to, and eat chicken and shells on his break like the rest of us cover band shmucks did. That's a convention. A trade show. More about that in a minute.

If you've ever gone to a Marriott and walked past a windowless room with plastic chandeliers depending from a drop ceiling painted black, seen fools milling around with name tags with Fletch quotes written under the illegibly scrawled Bobs, all dressed like they just raided Herb Tarlick's wardrobe in the dark, then watched porcine women ululate over a chocolate fountain that has strawberries to dip in it, as if that's not the most disgusting conflation of comestibles ever invented, then you know all about conventions. It's a swinger's party deboned for weak teeth. It's a funeral without a corpse to liven things up. It's Amway without even the soap, but plenty of perfume and aftershave.

What makes this trade show so interesting to me isn't the fact that they're immune to Jimmy Cliff in 1970. Jimmy Cliff in 1970 was earthshaking, or at least hipshaking, you must admit. He did his game best to pull fun like a molar out of them, but it wasn't to be. The reason for that interests me. That's MIDEM. The Marché International du Disque et de l'Edition Musicale. It's a trade show, held every year since 1967. If you don't speak French, can you guess the trade? Undertakers? Actuaries? Colostomy bag magnates? Who exactly would be that immune to Jimmy Cliff's charms in 1970?

I'll let Wikipedia deliver the punchline:
The tradeshow, which is billed as the leading international business event for the music ecosystem, has been held since 1967. Several thousand musicians, producers, agents, managers, lawyers, executives, entrepreneurs and journalists from around the globe regularly attend the event, which is usually held at the end of January, or early February. While delegates from recording, artist management, and publishers network, new artists showcase their material and live music is on show in the evenings.
If you've ever doubted just how little regard the music industry has for you, the customer, then watch that video again, and weep. If you think the music business has any more soul than pumping gas, you're fooling yourself. That phalanx of suits is the music business. They wouldn't know music if it bit them on the ass.


vanderleun said...

Like turtles, that "convention" is just aholes all the way down.

Johnny Glendale said...

My god, even at the dozens of television conventions I've attended, a lot of the "insiders" are really hardcore fans, and embarrass the bejeezus out of themselves just to get of picture with some halfwit sitcom star or self-absorbed Canadian game show host. It's just paralyzingly frightening to think there's something lower than TV execs. No offense intended to my many TV exec friends - you know it's true.

Anonymous said...

Yes, but... the "punchline" reveals that Cliff's performance is an audition of sorts - or what we would now call a "brand placement event".

And the industry folk - like anyone judging an audition or subject to a pitch - are not about to jump up and say "where do I sign"?

That doesn't mean they aren't hep cats.

From the industry perspective, Cliff is just one of several products in the Soul Train genre - in an era that boasted an embarrassment of such riches. One with a good agent, to get him this placement/exposure.

Most of these folks had probably already amassed enough street cred compared to REAL white bread Americans. This was not the venue to prove their cool-cat bona fides.

And as in the movie industry, lotsa normal people make money off the unbalanced freaks who burn themselves up.

chasmatic said...

I cut the audience no slack. On any other forum I would recommend they all get a good hard punch in the face, but I'm a peaceful man, ask Jack my dog.

The Bigger They Come, The Harder They Fall. Sound track. Movie.

H. Gillham said...

All of this was just funny.