Sound And Vision: Guns N' Roses? Joan Jett? Why the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Is on the Verge of Becoming a Joke?

Last month when the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced its fifteen nominees for induction in 2012, the organization really outdid itself”and not in a good way! Donovan? Not again! Erik B. & Rakim? Not before LL Cool J! Joan Jett and the Blackhearts?

What? No “Weird Al” Yankovic? Hasn’t he been eligible for four years?

The Hall of Fame has been scraping from the B-list for a while now, but the voting body should take a closer look at the A-list. There’s still a lot of unheralded talent there, and that would not include Joan Jett. Yes, Jett’s former band, The Runaways, deserves credit for introducing girl power to hard rock, but did Joan Jett and the Blackhearts really earn a spot in the hallowed Hall based on the strength of one really awesome No. 1 smash, 1981’s “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll,” which the band didn’t even write? In the general scheme of things, aren’t they sort of a rock & roll footnote?

Not Linda Ronstadt. Perhaps the most influential female in ’70s rock, who spent the ’80s juggling genres from new wave to mariachi to the great American songbook, she’s the most deserving artist never to be nominated. And let’s talk about Pat Benatar and Stevie Nicks, who is already in the Hall of Fame as a member of Fleetwood Mac but whose solo career is far more worthy of the honor than Jett’s post-Runaways. At least the nominating committee finally had the good sense to give props to Heart, though I’ll eat my copy of the “Alone” Cassingle if the Wilson sisters actually get in.


Match Madness

Steve Jobs announced Apple’s new cloud-based service last week”fully equipped, of course, with an industry-rattling curveball. iCloud itself holds no real surprises; it’s basically a free way to share new music you purchase with up to ten different devices. The real kicker is that Apple is also launching a complimentary service, for $24.99 a year, called iTunes Match. This allows iTunes to scan your library, ID your songs and (assuming the song exists in iTunes) give you access to their legit version on the iCloud. On the surface, iTunes Match is just a convenient way to quickly take your library to the cloud without having to upload it”which could take days. What’s ruffling everyone’s feathers is that Apple is letting people convert their bootlegged songs to legit ones for what is essentially $2 a month. As you might expect, everyone (and their mother) has an opinion about how this will affect the industry.

Let’s start with the bad. Many people think that Apple is just offering a “parley” with the music pirates and essentially finding a way to profit off of piracy. The stance of “some payment is better than none” is nothing more than a weak compromise. But that’s far from the biggest concern. With the industry moving closer and closer to subscription services, some people fear that Match will kill the future before it has a chance to happen. The big four labels, who are reportedly being paid about $150 million up front by Apple (all together), have taken the quick cash without any incentive to pay their artists in the future. As Bob Lefsetz says, “[I]t’s like Nintendo being paid a bunch of money to never develop the Wii. It’s like Electronic Arts being paid to never develop mobile games. It’s a denial of the future. Who in the hell is going to buy a music subscription for even $3 a month when for $25 a year you can have everything you own, even stole, at your fingertips via iCloud?” While Lefsetz’s theory may be a bit extreme, he does bring up a good point.

Steve Jobs

On the other end of the spectrum, however, there are those who see Job’s announcement in a more positive light. The most obvious upside is that the industry will recoup some, if only a fraction, of the money it’s lost over the years to illegal downloading. As pointed out earlier, it will probably only benefit the labels and not the artists, but it’s still something. According to the industry executives that Fast Company spoke with, though, the real value is in the data; legitimizing illegal libraries will give them firsthand knowledge of what people are listening to. This crucial information has been almost non-existent since piracy became popular. There’s also the theory that suggests the exact opposite of Lefsetz’s: that iTunes Match will actually help prepare the world for music subscription services. The logic behind it is that Match will get people back into the habit of spending money on music. After years of illegal downloading, people have come to expect music to be free”Match, supposedly, will make consumers associate costs with the product once again and ease the transition into a world of subscriptions.

Steady as a rock...

Like anything else, there’s at least three sides to Apple’s upcoming release. What do you think? Is it good for the industry, the end of life as we know it or will it just get sued into oblivion by the record labels like Share your thoughts below!