Treatment

The main premise of this film is to give volume to the dying voice of authentic music in America.

 

Part One: The Problems

In part one of BTMD, we investigate the current state of the music world and the forces at work within that world, who are producing two parallel trends which the filmmakers find alarming.

The first trend addressed is the loss of individuality, creativity and ultimately the idea of taking risks in broadcast radio. Due in large part to deregulation, companies such as ( ) have been allowed to purchase hundreds of radio stations across the country. In the process, these corporate entities have replaced an almost equivalent number of DJs with a small, centralized pool of on-air talent, who are able to create and forward content wowgrade.net via these stations. A single DJ can deliver programming that plays to millions of listeners in any number of cities nationwide.

In the case of record companies, we can see similar market forces at work as the larger corporate labels narrowly focus their efforts on Top 40 talent, while simultaneously swallowing the smaller, independent labels.

The emphases on producing quarterly returns for investors, and the career-preserving instinct not to rock the boat, combine to produce bland acts who simply mimic what is already selling.

This method of increasingly risk-adverse talent development often results in a label dropping an act if the act's debut effort fails to produce an immediate hit. If current A&R practices had been in effect 30 to 40 years ago, legendary names such as Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, David Bowie, and Bruce Springsteen, as well as dozens of other rock and roll hall of famers (who didn't connect with the public until their 3rd or 4th albums) would never have seen the light of day.

The second trend we find alarming is the growing monopolistic power of the media giants. With ( ) again as our example, we can see a company that not only controls radio stations, but also owns entertainment venues. This gives them the freedom to insert one of their acts, that they've developed into one of their many multi-genre playlists across the country, and then book that act into venues which they own.

With so much power over talent that they have a vested interest in promoting, these media behemoths have little reason to book acts that are higher risks, outside of the label's control or that the label simply doesn't understand.

The last issue is the most disconcerting, because it speaks directly to the net effect of these two trends. If media consolidation means that companies are unwilling to take these risks, and local markets are losing their individual voices, then there is no traditional vehicle left to connect the American public with these new musical trends or the unique artists who develop them. In the country that gave the world gospel, blues, rockabilly, bluegrass, jazz, rock and roll, rap, grunge and hip-hop, we may be witnessing the death of new ideas and new creative forces in music.

 

Part Two: The Musicians.

In the middle act of our film we examine how the trends we have outlined in Act One affect both musicians and music fans. In this segment we seek to personalize the film by speaking with celebrity musicians (i.e. Perry Farrell,  Lauren Hill, Dave Mathews, G.Love, Sheryl Crow, Wynton Marsalis, Patty Griffin, My Morning Jacket, David Gray, Willie Nelson, Erika Badu, REM, Tribe called Quest) who can provide insight and personal experience that support our premise.

  • Introduce bands. Need Primary band, two secondary bands, and various tertiary acts. Need to personalize the interaction with a record company, with radio, with the promotion machine.
  • Contrast with ‘the teens’ (cookie cutter acts). Our acts are not under 25, they are not picture perfect, and will not be candidates to sell shampoo or appear on reality TV. They are, however, damn good musicians.
  • SNL, Auto Tune footage.
  • Personalize what has happened with disappearing record stores. Access director Jeffrey Lyles and “Last record store” footage.
  • Through a very creative process, we explain of what a “big box”  store is.
  • We prove how “big box” stores have become the only place to buy music in many towns and regions. Example footage, Rome New York (just outside of Woodstock)
  • Visit one of the music department of one of the world’s largest music retailers  (in upstate New York)  to find out who is in charge of selecting the music that makes it to the shelves. We set out to go shopping at  the some “big box” stores in search of real American roots music such as Jazz, Blues and even Blue Grass. “Excuse me, do you have any John Coltrane?” Muddy Waters?

 

Part Three: The Solutions

Cameras roll as we visit  the headquarters of one of the retail giants and offer a solid solution (#1) at a very low cost . If our solution is adopted by the chosen store chain they (the company) will benefit from positive publicity. If they choose to ignore it, they instantly become the film's antagonist.

Cameras also roll as we visit the headquarters of a radio giant to make a similar solution (#2) that can easily be implemented. If they chose to accept our solution, they too will benefit from positive publicity. If they chose to ignore it, we have verified another antagonist.

Cameras continue as we share our valuable information ( solutions #1 and #2) with a giant record label and give them a chance to take some positive steps from which both they and their consumers can benefit.

 

Part Four: The Future

In addition to the "solutions" section of our film,  we examine the future of American music, and music distribution. We take a look at what changes in technology have meant to struggling musicians. We examine how the advent of iTunes, Satellite Radio, Hear Music kiosks, and other technologies have changed the market for musicians, music fans, and the existing establishment.

We highlight the industry’s entities that give us reasons to be optimistic about the future of music.

  • ATO records are the best example of a label that puts musicians (of all ages) first by developing their careers over several years and allowing creative freedom.
  • We look at the self-sufficient success _tba__band and how they carved their own niche through grass roots and Internet marketing.
  • We turn to the sold-out ACL fest and spotlight (through promoter/musician interviews) how it has become the best showcase of real musicians (of all ages and genres) in the nation. ACL fest is the quintessential place to find variety and celebrate the importance of MUSIC!

We close with a five-minute (soundtrack) musical mosaic featuring still photos from Acts 1 through 4. This piece will also feature some classic music photos as well.

The final frame will end with a dedication.