When musician and producer Linda Perry looks at the future of the music industry, one thing she doesn’t see is longevity.
“When you think of the past ten years, who do you think the music legacy artists are going to be?” she asks.
“I’m just being a very passionate person that respects music when I asked that. Who are we going to induct into the Hall of Fame? We really should think about this.”
Perry, who rose to fame with the group 4 Non Blondes, believes the music industry is out of tune with the public.
“Everyone in the industry is saying that nobody wants to buy albums, but that is not the truth,” she explained. “During the height of them telling us this, Adele releases her album 25 and sold 25-million-records. Not songs, albums! It is very clear that if you make a good album the consumer will buy it.”
“If anybody thinks that Kim Kardashian has a billion followers they are on severe medications.”
But when it comes to the blame game, Perry said it isn’t just the labels or the artist but everyone’s fault.
“The labels were like ‘we don’t feel like we need to make albums’ (and) they sign a flavour of the week to a one song deal, then they do a second song and with an option of a third single, and then they think about maybe doing an album,” she said.
“The record companies are saving money by not signing deals they don’t have to give advances to commit to the album.”
Perry said record companies are swayed by the number of social media followers an artist has instead of the quality of an artist’s work.
“What people don’t understand is it’s all a lie because all the followers they (have) are bought,” she explained.
“If anybody thinks that Kim Kardashian has a billion followers they are on severe medications. People are buying these, they are buying the followers and streams. It’s not real so I don’t know why labels try to use something that’s not real.”
“It doesn’t matter if you’re John Lennon with ‘Imagine’ if you have no motivation, it won’t go anywhere,”
Perry’s company We Are Hear has taken matters into their own hands to make a change. She said the company uses an “old school approach” when looking for artists with staying power, who can have that kind of long-term impact on the music scene.
The process starts with asking some very important questions.
“Who do we see 30 years from now still making music? The next one is how much drive and motivation do they have? It doesn’t matter if you’re John Lennon with ‘Imagine’ if you have no motivation, it won’t go anywhere,” she explained. “These are all the things we need to look for because we need to do this. We need to sign artists that will be here 15 to 30 years from now.”
As well, Perry wants young artists to remember that there’s an art to crafting good lyrics.
“I try to get kids to slow down, write the song first and to look at the song after it’s done and ask themselves, ‘is this the best I can do?’ ”
Perry believes that what both artists and the industry need to focus more on is one simple truth: “If you make a good album the consumer will buy it.”
“To me right now the most important thing I can constantly and consistently say is we need to raise the bar, we need to raise it very high, I mean severely high. We have been operating at a very low frequency and we need to get the frequency up and really start pushing the boundaries of what music has shown us in the past it can do.”
Her advice for other producers and members of the music industry?
“I think we just need to get back to the basics of making music. Focus on the art of recording a song, the art of writing a song, the art of mentoring an artist and bringing back the rock star you will see and hear a difference.”