|Index||5 reviews in total|
For debut filmmakers, apart from the content of the actual doc, this is
an incredible piece of professional cinema. The film does not mimic a
style from the great documentarians of our time such as Ken Burns and
Michael Moore, but rather gives a documenting style in and of its own
While the film does focus on the dark side of the music industry, and doesn't need to go far to win over an audience to the premise that most of our current radio does suck, the film primarily inspires one to see that there's still a lot of good music out there to be found and had.
The scope of covering the current changes in the music industry is so vast, that these guys did a good job of keeping the audience engaged by telling us where music has been been, where we are now, and where we might be going.
To those of us that are interested and concerned about how the changes in commerce, technology, and art will affect the motion picture industry, this film gives us a good precursor of what we may be going through.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
So what's wrong with the music industry today? Money hungry record
executives? Corporations owning too many radio stations? Yes. Those are
the two things that're wrong with the music industry. At least
according to this film.
I was incredibly disappointed to find that a film with so many artists and executives working in and around the music industry, could offer so little insight in to it. After watching this I realized I really didn't learn anything, with the exception of being exposed to some artists I had never heard of.
Before the Music Dies starts off as a narrative explaining how a death in the family led to the narrator's search to find what's wrong with today's music industry. That's where the narration ends, from that point on the movie becomes a series of clips and artist/executive/fan commentary.
The film then proceeds to waste your time with a dozen commentators who all seem to agree on everything. Executives care about money, not art. Executives care about money, not art. Executives care about money, not art. Over and over and over they drill that in to your head, in case you didn't know already. Repeatedly telling us how bad record executives are is harmless enough, even if tedious, but the film becomes simply dishonest when it raves about the greatness of record executives in the past. When a commentator bluntly states that "When Stevie Wonder wants to make a record, he makes a record" it makes you wonder if he or the director do any research into Motown and their factory-like operation of churning out hits before butchering history.
Besides the fact that the film barely scratches the surface of why we have such bad music today, it actually doesn't really discuss today's music. Hip Hop is barely mentioned, and never discussed. Instead of taking a serious look at today's music, the film takes cheap shots at Ashley Simpson to represent everything that's wrong with music today.
The film tries to end with a positive outlook for the future, citing the rise of Napster and the internet as music's salvation. Though the fact that Napster was a good 5 years before Ashlee Simpson's time, this salvation doesn't appear to be well thought out.
So what else are we to do? In one of the most cheesy endings to anything, ever, the narrator comes back to make a plea that we teach the children about Pink Floyd and The Who.
On the positive side, Erykah Badu was pretty funny, and the performances were pretty fun.
for me, an avid music fan, this documentary hit home from the opening credits. as a child of the 90s, i can still remember when i could turn on the radio, flip through 7 stations, and hear about 7 completely different songs being played. it was not a process to try and search out "alternative" stations because as you moved from station to station you could find something that sounded completely different than what was playing on the station before it. this all stopped around 1997 when i found that as i moved from station to station i could be guaranteed to hear the same song in a short period of time. sadly, around 1997, i abandoned listening to the radio all together and haven't gone back since. the radio used to be a place to hear what was new and upcoming. bands had a chance to develop on the radio and gain an audience; record companies instilled faith in bands and nurtured them to develop. it is these concepts that the movie focuses on. pop radio hasn't always been something to hate if you're a music fan! artists like stevie wonder, ray charles, dmb, pearl jam, THE BEATLES, aretha franklin, elvis, gladys knight & the pips, eric Clapton, led zeppelin, and so on are all spawns of pop radio! in this movie branford marsalis has some of the best quotes I've ever heard regarding the music industry saying: "fans of popular music today aren't music fans...they're pop culture fans.", "stevie wonder and ray charles would not have had a shot today...they're blind!", and has one regarding dmb saying that they would not have made it either since they are different and have a violin & saxophone in the band! though this movie sounds like it would be quite depressing to the music fan viewing, it is actually quite uplifting because it shows that well respected people in the business are aware of the crap that is coming out. please check this out and spread the word.
Director Andrew Shapter has created a marvelous documentary concerning
the health and well-being, not of the Music Industry, but the
vulnerable muse behind it that changes certain people from being just
competent musical technicians into transcendent artists channeling
their muse and changing the lives or their listeners. Through
interviews with musicians and industry players past and present, the
director tells a story of change; a change from radio nurturing new
stars to the time of video killing the radio stars. What has replaced
those stars does not forebode well for the future of musical art.
All is not lost, however. A few powerful personalities have found a way to use their indomitable will and contemporary technology to forge a new direction. That direction suggests an exciting future that will continue to allow artists to connect to their audience without the mediation of an ever-consolidating Music Industry Distribution Network.
Anyone who is concerned with the dearth of challenging, intelligent and enduring musical art should see this film and make it their duty to seek out that muse.
Before the Music Dies (2006)
*** (out of 4)
Pretty good documentary that takes a look at the music business and tells why rock, bluegrass and other smaller genres are getting hard to find. The film naturally blames MTV and the likes for reasons why Spears and her type sell twenty-million records. There are some pretty harsh yet funny comments from the cast, which includes Eric Clapton, Erykah Badu, Elvis Costello, Dave Matthews and Bonnie Raitt. Various topics from downloading songs to live shows are discussed and while the documentary doesn't say anything we don't already know it does manage to be entertaining from start to finish.
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