Frank Zappa made a name for himself as one of the original agitators. A deliberate thumb to the nose of the music industry, Zappa found himself comfortable in the sweet embrace of unconventional subversion. To offer a view on the music industry, in a 1987 interview, Zappa details the trials and tribulations of being an original artist in a modern world, and it still rings true today.

“Remember the 60s? That era that a lot of people have these glorious memories of?… they really weren’t that great, those years” says Zappa in the interview. Apparently happy to play the grump, Zappa gives a frank description of the decade which gave him his break. But one good thing from that era was missing from the eighties and is even truer today.

During the ’60s music executives were a stuffy bunch. They were an old guard of stuffy shirts and ties only with an eye on the profit margin. Or as Zappa describes them “cigar-chomping old guys” ut one benefit of this was that they “looked at the product and said, ‘I don’t know. Who knows what it is? Record it, stick it out. If it sells, alright!’”

Remembering when Frank Zappa performed with Pink Floyd in 1969

Zappa declares that “we were better off with those guys, than we are with the hip, young executives,” making the calls on what gets made and what gets put out to the public. While Zappa is talking about the fast-paced movement of the record industry n the eighties, the same can be said of today’s music scene.

In truth, there are a lot more opportunities to control their output, like Zappa was famed to have done, but it comes at a price. Bands and artists can get their music on to a range of streaming sites without any help from a label, but to actually get seen, heard and paid, they still need the help of the industry. Those decisions, as to who gets the support, who gets the tour, who gets the merch deal, still lives in the hands of those “hip” execs.

It may have been over 30 years ago but this deliberate and detailed thumb to the nose of the music industry still feels as relevant today as it did in 1987. Frank Zappa was always ahead of the curve and he is again here.

Watch the classic interview as Frank Zappa take son the music industry.

Source: Open Culture


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