Avoiding "Short Shelf Life" syndrome

Here is the senario.

Someone sends you a link to a song, video, etc. The song is really cool, well recorded, but for some certain television show that is out there currently. Or for a cause, National calmity, emergency, (Hurricanes, Global Warming, 9-11, War, am starting to see the "SANDY HOOK" School shooting" songs). Now remember, it is a cool song, well written, good melody, nice video. They ask  "WHAT's NEXT?"

The answer is "Maybe nothing." If they are promoting it, getting it on YOU TUBE, FACEBOOK, MYSPACE, REVERB NATION, etc. going to local and regional outlets, performing it at every opportunity, that might be ALL that they can do. There might not be a "NEXT" unless great fan demand (going VIRAL), or someone else, music director of a television show, motion picture, major artist, publisher, label, picks it up, you might be doing the "NEXT."

With television, shows are produced all the time. Mostly pilots that never see the light of day. Motion pictures are the same. There are music directors, who control what is on those, and trust me, they don't have time to go looking for a needle in a haystack of some film or television library. They need what they want NOW. So they are going to go with publishsers, writers, pluggers they personally KNOW, long before they go to some obscure site they don't know. In a  lot of television, it is months or sometimes years before they actually air. And if they are like the current rash of "Reality shows" they may either not get shown, or get so hot that EVERYONE is trying to get to them, OR, the entire theme burns out quickly and the fickle public is on to something else. Just the way it goes.

In the world of "topical" or "Issue" oriented songs, it is much worse. Writers and artists write what is going on around them. What they see. If you have a "Machine" like  Alan Jackson did on his earth shattering "Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning", that came on the heels of the 9-11 catastrophe, was right time, right place, right song. It hit the airwaves during a major television awards show, he didn't even plan on doing it as a single, just his tribute to that terrible day.
But it was an amazingly written, perfectly timed song, and it filled a need that many wanted. Alan, had a big hit on it deservedly so.

But at the same time, thousands of writers and artists (probably ALL of them) were coming out with their OWN version of the song. Mine came on the 17th, In French Lick Indiana, where I was playing that weekend after the Towers came down. Mine was called "AMERICA 9-11" and really embodied what I was feeling. I was PISSED OFF! And ready to kick some ass! I performed it, and actually recorded a killer version of it that I put on my "The NEXT BIG THING" CD. Was really cool, and I got a lot of interest in it. "You have to get that too...." was the general statement from everyone.
Then, things start to change. About 3 or 4 months later, I noticed the reaction wasn't the same. People had gotten through their anger and were dealing with the healing. Toby Keith and the Dixie Chicks had their little war of words with his "Courtesy of the Red White and Blue", Darryl Worley had his "Have you Forgotten" and the anger songs started to recede. That was about it for the anger stuff. We moved on.

It don't think we forgot, but I do think we overloaded the emotional bandwidth and people moved on to other things. You can stay pissed, cry, remorseful forever, and while certain movies, tv shows, songs, documentaries, continued, even to this day, the mood shifted. Soon we were in the IRAQ and Afganistan wars and EVERYTHING changed. NOBODY wanted to even talk about war or this any more. Move on.

So these things had their time and "shelf life" and then it was time to move on. Artists and writers have to do that too. You have to understand that people's attention spans are very short, now much more so due to the Internet, 24 hour news cycles, etc.

The industry,who gets bombarded by all of this, is even more  fickle and are on to something else very quickly. And when it comes to "issue" songs, you are going to get most people in the industry say "Pass", because they know that most songs that take sides are going to alienate half an audience. They are not going to run off fans and potential dollars for anyone's soap box.

So you need to think of this if you are writing your "easily expiration date:" songs. Like anything, if you feel compelled to write it, record it, perform it, then DO IT! It is your right and responsibility to do so. But there is no right to be heard, and you need to keep in mind the feelings of your potential listeners. You might be bringing them something they have just had too much of.

If you write things that are "on the radio" or televison" you will find that those were written quite a while back, and if you are following the leader, you are probably going to be left out.

Just don't put all your eggs in one basket. Write more songs.

MAB

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