The Death of Record Sales Print E-mail
Written by Gaz E   
Monday, 03 August 2009 16:53

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I was knee deep in horror (The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan – you really should check it out!) when my wife breezed into my denim ‘n’ leather clad boudoir, like a younger version of T’Pau’s Carol Decker, to tell me that there were rumours flying around that Michael Jackson had died. A quick glimpse of the rolling news channels confirmed that something was indeed going on so, after sending a “Turn On The News!” text to my Wacko Jacko-obsessed friend Kris, I sat and watched the whole sorry episode unfold…..

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…..and it was sad. No matter what genre of music you dedicate your life to, you would be foolish to deny the importance of Michael Jackson to the entertainment world. As the shock gave way to moronic SMS messages quicker than Jordan Chandler’s father got to the bank, fans of the King Of Pop swarmed to various locations around the globe clad in joke shop sequined gloves and medical masks stolen from the clammy grasp of a million swine flu fearing headline readers. Then, news channels broadcast live from music retail outlets, interviewing “massive” Michael Jackson fans who were flocking to buy his music now that he was gone. British retailer HMV claimed that sales of his music equalled around eighty times the amount selling on average when he was still moonwalking, easily outselling the post-death rush for John Lennon and Elvis Presley material which, I’m sure you’ll agree, wouldn’t have been too shabby. Single track Jackson downloads in the US surged from 48,000 to 2.6 million in the days after his passing. All bought by “massive” fans of Michael Jackson who didn’t have a copy of ‘Billie Jean’. Or ‘Thriller’. Or ‘Beat It’. As part-time pop pickers cried for the cameras, record company executives cried with fucking joy, just like how the dinosaurs would have cried if the asteroid hurtling towards them had stopped in mid-air, Looney Tunes style.

cobainconverseNothing shifts more units than death. No amount of fake tits, celebrity romance, glossy music video or mental breakdown can match the sales upturn that happens when someone shuffles off this mortal coil. Whether it be the King Of Rock ‘N’ Roll, stuffed from bollocks to brain cells with non-prescription drugs by the people employed to look after him (sound familiar?), keeling over while trying to squeeze out a hunk of burning love, or Kurt Cobain blowing a hole in his greasy hair after realising that he had become one of the major label rock stars that he so abhorred – death is big business in the record industry. In fact, after ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ – the hair metal 9/11 – had made a thousand Sunset Strip rockers grow their fringes out, grow goatees and trade in their spandex at the thrift stores for plaid shirts, a whole generation of cock rockers breathed a sigh of relief when news broke that Cobain had done the decent thing and left his one year old daughter fatherless. Converse would also have been devastated to see that Cobain was wearing a pair of their shoes when he took his own life. So devastated that, to celebrate an anniversary year, they brought out a Kurt Cobain signature shoe – fans cried and complained into their cardigans while sneaker svengalis snorted cocaine from the breasts of high class hookers in their Corvettes.

When Richie Edwards disappeared, Manic Street Preachers finally became the tabloid-featured, household names that they had always dreamed of becoming. A few short years after telling fans to “Fuck Queen And Country” they were picking up Brit awards. Whether it was as a result of a sympathetic public matters not – the mere hint of death propelled the band into the big league. The fact that the hyper-intelligent Edwards had left his car at a notorious suicide spot, waiting to be sucked into the minds of a headline-reading public in a hurry, must have left him smiling, not on the other side of his face, but on the other side of the world where he now resides. Proof that even the merest suggestion of a death rattle can sell millions of albums.

Michael Jackson’s death was the first major loss of life in the download era. The UK top 40 chart, which about two dozen people still knew existed, contained thirteen Jackson songs following his death. A dying music industry rose from its death bed and raised an eyebrow. Second only to Christianity when it comes to making millions from the misery and suffering of its poster boy, the industry that so many had written off seemed to have found a  miracle cure. No matter how many “kids” were downloading music and file sharing, the death of an icon had spurred people to buy music again, and lots of it. Death was, and is, the answer. How long until these record company Goatboys, suckers of Satan’s cock, start murdering their own artists in the hope of selling a shitload of units? They tested the holy water with Madonna’s ‘Like A Prayer’ video – how long until they actually crucify an artist live on MTV? If it is Chad Kroeger of Nickelback, then I’m in like Flynn. How long until a record company employee goes undercover and works as a roadie and really does wire up David Draiman of Disturbed’s stupid electric chair prop to the mains and fries that arsehole? How long until a nut and bolt “mysteriously” loosen on the idiotic mic stand of Blackie Lawless, toppling that giant lycra-clad arse onto the concrete and pushes the album sales of ‘The Sting’ into the hundreds?

Mentioning a giant lycra-clad arse has got me thinking about Gene Simmons. You have to question the business acumen of the money obsessed rock giant when he missed the boat following the deaths of two former Kiss band members - the awesome Eric Carr, and Mark St John, whose Kiss career basically consisted of a couple of photo shoots. A quick scan over some of Gene’s other success stories – his transsexual movie ‘Never Too Young To Die’; Gene Simmons’ Tongue magazine; Simmons Records signing Silent Rage; the Kiss wrestler; solo album (and bargain bin staple) ‘Asshole’; to name but a few – make you wonder if he really is as clued-in as he’d have us believe. Even the first guy who played the Kiss wrestler died and Gene failed to abuse that too! While I wouldn’t be surprised if Gene started offing Kiss members to boost record sales – Tommy Thayer first please, get Black N’ Blue some money – it is more likely that he will incorporate some murder into his soulless rip off of The Osbournes, ‘Family Jewels’. A gory slaughter per episode would boost ratings, shift loads of Kiss Kaskets, and see sales of Shannon Tweed’s awful soft porn flicks treble. Before Simmons Family fans start crying into their Kiss perfume, get this – they don’t really have to die! The deaths can be staged like every other fucking scene in this godawful “reality” show.

Listen up, people – reality shows are the way forward for the record industry. MTV has filled their schedules full of this shit, at the expense of music, for years now. I couldn’t give a fuck about how some goofy US teen is gonna spend her sixteenth birthday, but give me a ‘Running Man’ style show full of musicians getting gutted and I’m buying the CD, the DVD, the t-shirt, the book and the magazine tie-in. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the concept of the movie ‘The Running Man’, let me explain; starring Arnie and directed by Starsky, the movie is set in 2017 where the world economy has collapsed and all art, film and literature is censored by the militarized police state. Doesn’t sound that futuristic anymore, does it? Convicts are entered into a TV reality show where, as they try to escape with their lives, they are hunted down as the audience prays for bloodshed. Substitute the fictional convicts with factual rock stars and we’re onto a winner, baby!
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Imagine the audience punching the air as Vinnie Vincent, or Joe Lynn Turner, get beheaded, only to find that it’s only their dodgy wigs that have been sliced from their being; imagine seeing the train wreck Jani Lane getting sliced from ear to ear, recreating that fucking stupid latex grin he wore in the ‘Cherry Pie’ video; imagine seeing reality show stalwart Bret Michaels tearing off his bandana with the stapled-on hair to slip away from his pursuers only to find that his bald head acts like a disco ball to the studio lights attracting a blood thirsty mob who tear the fucker limb from limb – now, that’s some quality TV, my friends. Record sales would soar, TV ratings would soar, action figures (with removable intestines and brains) would become the must-have Xmas toy. And the host would become the world’s most famous celebrity. But who could host such a show? Who genenevertooyoungmoviecould appeal to both the music community and the brain washed, reality TV watching, moron majority? My choice would be former King Kobra frontman Mark Free. And, as the show becomes the most successful entertainment exercise in history, if Mark tries to hold the producers to ransom for a new mega contract they could get David Geffen as a guest presenter to rip Free’s cock off live on air…..oh…….so my plan does have a flaw. Fuck it, they can get Gene Simmons in his tranny get-up from ‘Never Too Young Too Die’ to present the show – that pop culture pimp will do anything for money…..except get married, obviously. Facelift on a shit reality show? Yes please. Marriage? ‘No No No’.

So, death sells – but who’s buying? Basically, everyone who isn’t a music fan. Leisure wear covered sheep who cry when a pop star dies yet have never bothered to buy one of his songs in the twenty years since it has been released. Morons who buy compact discs in service stations and supermarkets. Mouth breathers who buy music because it is featured on a TV commercial. Fat arsed fucktards who buy CD’s because some Z-list soap star is on some moribund ice skating/ballroom dancing reality show. The murderous reality show concept is the next step, the natural evolution of the “entertainment” industry. Record companies don’t care who buys their shitty product, just as long as someone is buying it. Fuck it, if we have to watch as these giant corporations take over the world as we know it, then let’s have some fun with it – let’s see Randy Piper getting hung, drawn and quartered, Joey Tempest getting sliced in half, Yngwie Malmsteen getting his face torn off by wild dogs, that boring fucker from Staind getting his leg torn off and shoved up his own arse – all watched by Mark Free, laughing his cock off….