Sanchez Keeps on Slipping Slipping Slipping into the Future!
Sympathetic Sanchez pities his poor Sister and must admit that in less controversial times, he'd be happy to discuss Eminem busting poor Neckney's bubble, besting her and BSB by selling 1,760,000 CDs and scoring the superglamorous second-best first-week-sales-of-all-time prize! "'Second-best first-week sales of all time!' enthuses the smiling Sister of Sanchez!" the smiling Sister of Sanchez enthused. "Who can possibly be worried about Napster? The Sister of Sanchez can't help herself but to quote a joke headline from The Onion: 'Kid Rock Starves to Death: MP3 Piracy Blamed.'"
Ah, but wise Sanchez advises his excitable Sister that the bands who can afford to litigate against the San Mateo-based Internet company are superhuge artists like Metallica and Eminem's producer Dr. Dre, but the artists who suffer will be the little tiny arty ones, for their audiences are the college students who use Napster. Hypothetical Sanchez asks his Sister to picture a band, young, self-possessed and arty?the sort of band young enough to believe the reason that Stereolab never had a hit single is simply because the forces of darkness have thrust Don Henley down the throats of a public too stupid to protest. That young band also probably thinks that it's possible to sell lots of records without having a song on the radio. Now, to keep that band touring long enough to establish an audience and tour profitably on its own, furthermoring Sanchez continues, their label is going to have to shell out for a van, a sound guy, a tour manager, hotel rooms and per diems so the sensitive artistes don't starve to death. Mathematical Sanchez estimates this to be roughly $4500 a week?and that's budgeting for Red Roof Inns, and a sound guy who'll work for so little money that he probably will have to be taught which parts of the mixing board are the knobs. If this band spends nine months on the road promoting the record, that's $162,000. Though the label will start making a profit long before the band recoups its advance, it still will have to sell 50,000 or so records to make the venture worthwhile for the label. And if those kinds of records lose half their sales due to Napster piracy, what label is going to bother with that kind of math?
"'Sanchez can't possibly be suggesting something so horrifying as a world in which there will never emerge a new G. Love!' cries the shuddering Sister of Sanchez," the shuddering Sister of Sanchez cried. But Sanchez fears it's true.
Now, fairminded Sanchez allows that Napster simply isn't going to go anywhere, and the artists will naturally evolve in the new, harsher world. There will always be 18-year-olds willing to sleep on floors and sell plasma for gas money to stay on the road. And being that a youngster of a musical disposition these days is more likely to get a Pro Tools or Logic system and work with a whole spectrum of sound?instead of simply learning one instrument and finding a bunch of other young stoners to fill out the other roles in the band?file-sharing technology may very well lead to an environment that idealists who have no interest in making music for a living might find quite attractive?an environment in which the bulk of non-pop artists are, by necessity, amateurs. Deejaying, for which a single individual can travel with a satchel of records and make a living, will surely become even more prevalent?speeding up the economic inevitability that one guy playing records supplants the bulkier, more expensive four guys playing guitars, which in turn supplanted the bulkier, more expensive 20 guys playing horns. And already-established touring artists aren't going anywhere. But new bands? Forward-thinking Sanchez suggests they'll go the way of the TRS-80 even quicker than he expected.
Which would explain the smugness with which noted populists Limp Bizkit accepted a $1.8-million tour sponsorship from Napster?enough money to give the band a profit, while enabling them to make this tour free for the fans. How lovely a publicity opportunity this is for Napster, which gets to look even more like a technological extension of Youf Revolution and not the private, profit-seeking company whose CEO is a former entertainment lawyer that in fact it is. And why shouldn't Fred Durst be grinning? His job isn't in danger. In the Napster future, kids will still be able to be rock stars when they grow up. What they won't be able to be is mere musicians. Unless they're content simply to be hobbyists.
"The concerned Sister of Sanchez is puzzled: Does Sanchez seem a bit melancholy in predicting a future in which the hipsters have only boy bands from Orlando to listen to?" puzzled the concerned Sister of Sanchez. And Sanchez must say his Sister's right. What fun will there be for contrarian Sanchez when all the cool kids are down with the cheese? Still, Sanchez relishes the opportunity to make fun of such mookish pundits as MTV newscaster Brian McFayden, who forces Sanchez into the very strange position of objecting to someone in show business being the real-life equivalent of William Hurt in Broadcast News.
"'This is getting almost psychedelic,' gasps the amazed Sister of Sanchez," the amazed Sister of Sanchez gasped. In an online chat excerpted by MTV online, McFayden brilliantly asserts, "I don't think Napster is hurting sales...people love to buy CD's." Breathless Sanchez agrees! Take all Sanchez's money now! Get that free stuff away from him! Later, McFayden does his part to make CD purchasing hip and groovy for the kids: "I don't know about you, but it's so much cooler to have a CD in your collection, to have the tangible item than a digital file." Besotted Sanchez wishes he were just like Brian! And when a viewer with the screen name "ilovebrian" asks him, "Don't you think Napster will help raise sales?" our hero sagely responds: "There might not be a lawsuit against Napster if we knew." Recognizing genius when he sees it, admiring Sanchez begs his editors to fire him now!
NEXT: Congratulatory Sanchez enthuses over Rolling Stone's choice of Douglas Rushkoff as an advocate for the future; for in a piece in RS' "NetBookers" supermodern insert, in which Rushkoff supposedly "survey[s] the digital landscape," the guy says: "I'm trying to wean myself off non-analog sound, because I just want to remember what music was." Cheering Sanchez hopes their next forecast for tomorrow endorses the Victrola!