The Network™

I was driving home late last night, talking on the cell phone to a redneck friend of mine when I looked up and saw a blinding light in the sky. I was completely freaked out. It isn’t often we Los Angelenos can even see the sky, much less see something in it. After I tipped the Jeep up on two wheels, took out a stand of mailboxes and stalled out in the ditch, I realized I was looking at the moon.

Imagine that. Me. A hopeless romantic fooled by the moonlight.

I relayed my situation and the optical delusion I had just suffered to the long-suffering hillbilly on the phone.

“I’ve never seen a moon so bright,” I said. “I panicked and ran the Jeep into a ditch.”

“Aw, son, don’t worry ’bout it,” he drawled. “Just drop that puppy into 4-wheel drive and you can jump a culvert if you have to. But you better ‘tend to them mailboxes. Wipe the paint off them so they can’t trace you down. Tamperin’ with the mail is a federal offense. You don’t want the G-men on you.”

“Forget about the ditch and the mail,” I shouted. “What about the moon? It’s too big to be real! It’s got to be the end of the world.”

“Lucky for you it ain’t,” he chuckled. “Otherwise, you’d be dancin’ with the devil. That there is just a big old Harvest Moon.”

“What the hell is a Harvest Moon?” I asked him.

“Big moon that keeps the night light so you can harvest crops up ’til mite near midnight,” he said solemnly.

Sometimes I think we’re all suffering from mental pause.

“Fine,” I mumbled as I scraped red paint off of one of the mailboxes. “I’m only sorry that I didn’t have a Harvest Moon last month when I was bringing in my sugar cane crop.”

“You better plan better next year, boy,” he laughed and hung up.

It occurred to me that my former moonshine partner had a better line on the economic times facing the entertainment industry than even he knew. We’re all working longer, harder and faster for less.

It’s like we’re constantly under a Harvest Moon. Or worse…that the moon is in suicide.

The beating the music industry has been taking is brutal. Blows from all over have rained down on our collective psyches. We’re bobbing and weaving, trying only to survive. If it was a boxing match, they would have stopped it.

For every cloud, there is a silver lining. Even around the huge Harvest Moon I gazed upon last night. Of course, that lining was from the smoke coming from the Angeles National Forest, which is currently burning out of control.

Many in our business dread that the light at the end of the tunnel is that of an oncoming train.

Not me. I am eternally optimistic. I believe we’re one artist away from a complete turnaround. The right artist will change the record industry from doom and gloom to hope and light. One big artist will solve all the technological problems we’re struggling so hard to face.

You see, my logic is in a KISS…as in, “Keep It Simple, Stupid.” We have all these music people trying to convince corporate boards that they’re business geniuses. Give it up! Most of you quit school because you couldn’t focus on homework when you were listening to the latest music coming from your radios. Stop talking fiscal responsibility. Start singing songs.

Sometimes I think we’re all suffering from mental pause. The correct answer is always the simplest and most often overlooked. The record business won’t be saved by saving money. It will be saved by making money. And money can only be made by making hits.

Internet downloading was the result of inferior product. The consumer grew tired of paying top dollar for mediocre CDs that contained only one hit. The Internet made it possible to pick and choose the hits…something record executives should have been doing before the CD was released.

Listen to The Beatles’ Abby Road CD. What cut would you download? None. You would buy the CD because all the cuts are good.

So while we’re all working harder for less to produce more, turn the heat up on the artists. Keep them in the studio until they have a hit CD…not just a cut or two. Don’t worry about working them too hard.

Just tell them it’s a Harvest Moon.

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