Tay Zonday on the Industry
by Winston "Stone" Ford
It seems that I’m bombarded with so many blog posts, zShare links, and Tweets to fill a lifetime. However, through all the muck, sometimes things find a way of standing out.
Broken Cool’s interview with Tay Zonday, aka The Chocolate Rain Guy is one of those things. This is the deepest and most poignant interview I’ve read in a long time. If you don’t know, Tay’s Chocolate Rain video–a song originally about racism–became one of the most watched viral videos on a then young YouTube, hoisting the Minnasota (now LA) based artist into the mainstream and getting himguest spots on late night shows and even a Dr. Pepper commercial. But of course, as Puffy says, Mo Money, Mo Problems. Tay breaks down his life after Chocolate Rain and goes after our current society point by point. Amazing.
Read the full interview over at Broken Cool. I want to highlight some of the more interesting points below.
On The Music Industry and Corporate Media
Between artists and their fan base, there are millionaire musicians whom you have never heard of. Take, for example, two Minnesota musicians. Lorie Line [of lorieline.com] made millions doing holiday tours across Minnesota. The O’Neill Brothers [of pianobrothers.com] make millions doing nationwide small-town gigs but started by sending CDs to gift shops across the Midwest.
These no-names earn more take-home-pay than most major-label musicians and many celebrity musicians. Between them and their fan base, they have a very stable and successful business. They can sell a fifteen dollar CD and keep all fifteen dollars. Their houses make some MTV Cribs look like shacks.
But The O’Neill Brothers are not part of the conversation that corporate media has with its consumers. They are not at the top of pop music charts. They earn more than a lot of Grammy winners but never took one home. They are not part of the echo chamber that keeps consumers reading TMZ. They don’t do nutty things to get publicity and people don’t masturbate to their airbrushed photos on MySpace.
“Success Level” is a fairytale invented to give journalists something to print by each deadline. It allows readers to vicariously live a celebrity soap opera about who makes it and who doesn’t. It turns the world into comic fiction that has nothing to do with music or life.
On Our TMZ Culture
People love scandal much more than art. It must be in our genetics. You know that a million years ago, you were a primate in the African savannah. Finding out who beat up who and who got high off what was more important to your survival than who could play the bongos. This is why a musician can go “Hey! I put out a great album!” and two people will look. But if they say “Hey! I got high off antifreeze and frog-penis and punched a hotel bellboy!” the whole world will watch.