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Elton John's Plan to Save Music: Shut Down the Internet

Elton John has some advice on how to deal with what he sees as a dearth of good music today: shut down the internet!

Eltonjohn"The internet has stopped people from going out and being with each other, creating stuff. Instead they sit at home and make their own records, which is sometimes OK but it doesn’t bode well for long-term artistic vision. It’s just a means to an end. We’re talking about things that are going to change the world and change the way people listen to music and that’s not going to happen with people blogging on the internet. I mean, get out there — communicate. Hopefully the next movement in music will tear down the internet. Let’s get out in the streets and march and protest instead of sitting at home and blogging. I do think it would be an incredible experiment to shut down the whole internet for five years and see what sort of art is produced over that span. There’s too much technology available. I’m sure, as far as music goes, it would be much more interesting than it is today. In the early Seventies there were at least ten albums released every week that were fantastic. Now you’re lucky to find ten albums a year of that quality. And there are more albums released each week now than there were then."

Elton John has been sober for a while now but that's a pipe dream if I've ever heard one.

In related news, social networking sites are being seen in a new UK study as the reason for the shift of power in the music industry away from record labels, as illegal downloading has reportedly hit a new high.

Said John Enser, head of music at Olswang, a law firm specializing in intellectual property rights: "The music industry needs to embrace new opportunities being generated by the increasing popularity of music on social networking sites. Surfing these sites and discovering new music is widespread with the latest generation of online consumers but the process of actually purchasing the music needs to be made easier to encourage sales and develop this new market."

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  1. Turn off the power for twenty four hours! Do you remember the "great black out" a couple of years ago? People were wandering the streets meeting their neighbours for the first time - trading food and thoughts. Awesome. None of this 'virtual' stuff is 'real'. One flick and towleroad and my illegal music 'collection' disappear! Unplug the planet.

    Posted by: ruckus | Aug 2, 2007 7:55:14 PM

  2. Just for the record, the internet didn't kill creativity. The dollar did. Very little is done creatively that hasn't already been done before. And if there is, it is hard to find so "getting out" and finding it is important, but Elton's verbal diarrhea of late is just tired. Like he should really be the one talking about getting out and doing some thing creative. His last attemts at creativity have left much to desire. If he wants to be political and make a change in the world for the better, fine. But all he really seems to do lately is bitch about what he doesn't like. As if we needed more of that.

    Posted by: JR | Aug 2, 2007 7:56:22 PM

  3. damn, where are you guys getting your music? this is like a renaissance time for music with some of the most interesting stuff being done across all genres that you can even believe? i mean seriously, are you just listening to the radio. there are so many amazing bands out there, doing so many creative and interesting things, using instruments rather than keyboards, and actually developing a following through touring. not sure what you guys are talking about that are saying music sucks, and yeah, that leland dude is right, people need to get off their asses, and at least get out of the house on occasion. heres an idea, combine both...get out of the house, go to a club and check out a band or two, like earl greyhound, or cold war kids, or beirut, or skybombes or whatever...if you're in la, go to spaceland or hotel cafe, don't know about you new york cats, but i'm sure there there are even more and better. saw am amazing show last night at avalon, the format with a ton of people like limbeck and steel train and the honorary title, and that whole crew is on tour all summer i'm pretty sure. go check them out. anyway, guys, don't listen to some old codger like elton john...i mean what the hell, thats like your grandmother shaking her cane and going on and on about "that darn rock music..." its a good world, with tons of creative things going on, and whether you find out about 'em online or whether you're out there every night sniffing out the good stuff from the corner...hey its all cool. have fun.

    Posted by: dan | Aug 2, 2007 8:23:30 PM

  4. elton, honey, the Internet IS the revolution....

    Posted by: the queen | Aug 2, 2007 9:00:56 PM

  5. Why is this newsworthy?

    Posted by: soulbrotha | Aug 2, 2007 10:48:42 PM

  6. Dean,

    Actually, you are mostly wrong when you say that burning a friend's CD deprives an artist, not a record label, of money. Technically, yes, you are depriving the artist of money...usually somewhere in the neighborhood of a nickel or a dime. Whereas an artist makes pennies on every album sold, a record company makes several dollars off each album sold. That's why, during the Napster years, almost every major recording artist said "So what? It isn't affecting me when you download my music!" (In fact, most artists felt music sharing had actually resulted in an increas of their album sales.) The only major recording artists to complain about Napster's file sharing were Metallica and Dr. Dre. And they were roundly criticized by fans and the music community.

    Successful recording artists make most of their money through the sales of concert tickets and merchandise (such as that new Rufus Wainwright t-shirt hanging in your closet). Album sales are a pittance in comparison.


    Posted by: peterparker | Aug 2, 2007 11:13:52 PM

  7. DAN said [ right on the money]:
    ¨...this is like a renaissance time for music with some of the most interesting stuff being done across all genres that you can even believe? i mean seriously, are you just listening to the radio. there are so many amazing bands out there, doing so many creative and interesting things...¨
    Yes yes yes! Elton probably has no idea that the internet offers alternatives like
    3wk.com , pitchformedia.com , alternativepress.com , slsknet.org ...etc etc...He is right if your music diet is made out of TRL and Billboard charts only...But the music landscape is gigantic nowadays...especially for those curious folks who roam around the web and are eager enough to find out brand new musics every minute of everyday...Amazingly it turns out some of that music exudes greatness too!

    Posted by: Jorge Florez | Aug 3, 2007 12:01:16 AM

  8. What is Elton smoking or snorting now? He obviously is back on something!

    He's just a bitter, out-of-touch old queen. The internet's not going anywhere unless there is a global power outage (ala a nuclear holocaust), and in that scenario, music would be the absolute LAST thing on anyone's mind (especially HIS music....MAYBE Nine Inch Nails, The Smiths, or Marilyn Manson, but NOT Elton John).

    If he's NOT doing drugs again, he needs to start again....and SOON (psychiatric ones).

    Posted by: Jordan | Aug 3, 2007 12:18:53 AM

  9. What an idiot Elton is, to not realize that the Internet IS in fact connecting people to one another as never before. The Internet is all ABOUT communication.

    Think of how many gay kids don't need to grow up feeling alone because of the connectivity of the Internet.

    Art and music will change. Go with it, Elton.

    Posted by: Gregg | Aug 3, 2007 1:37:16 AM

  10. There's plenty of inspiration behind today's music. I'd say that those who think the inspiration is fading/the music is bad/whatever are suffering from what seems to happen to all people as they get older: They just don't like the music they didn't grow up with.

    The internet isn't killing creativity. It's adding to the mix. Of course, the more that comes out, the more likely we are to hear music that doesn't agree with us, but so what? That doesn't mean people have lost some of their humanity or whatever these old worry-warts would have us believe.

    Posted by: Jon | Aug 3, 2007 3:12:51 AM

  11. GREGG:

    Yes, the Internet is about communication. But, there is communication by typing quick messages, etc. on your laptop while sitting on your ass and eating a doughnut.
    That is a distant, anstract form.

    What Elton is talking about - and he has a valid point - is getting out of one's condominium and meeting up face-to-face (remember when?) with friends, family and acquaintances for the pupose of social capital, having emotional, one-on-one or group discussions (that's currently done on the Internet by typing in BOLDFACE. (There's a statement!).

    The trend in US society in the last decade has been a groupthink mentality and a switch from taking an individual stand on an issue/topic and turning that into a whining, spineless reaction of "my group (insert cause here) has been offended..."

    People need to stop jumping on the group bandwagon and get up off their collective asses and DO something, stand up for themself. The piling on to the "group offensive" is cowardly, an easy way out.

    Posted by: Stephen | Aug 3, 2007 4:27:58 AM

  12. That should read "abstract" form.

    Posted by: Stephen | Aug 3, 2007 4:29:36 AM

  13. What is ironic about Elton John's comment is that it comes from a man who reportedly spends tens of thousands of dollars on flowers every year - I mean, talk about living in your own self-made bubble world. Ha!

    Posted by: Joe G. | Aug 3, 2007 7:28:33 AM

  14. I think he got a great point of view but it is not enough to shut down internet. Internet could also connect people through e-mail, chatting and other stuff. Perhaps it would be okay if he will advise people not to concentrate too much with the internet.

    Posted by: sponkit | Aug 3, 2007 7:48:30 AM

  15. It's really depressing how many comments here responded to Elton John's statement by referring disparagingly to his age. Good going gay people.

    Posted by: Bingo | Aug 3, 2007 8:12:07 AM

  16. Unfortunately, I think age has a lot to do with it. It seems like one of the traps of life is that as you get older, your world gets smaller and smaller and smaller, and because it's so small, your command of that world and your confidence in your opinions about it gets proportionately larger and larger - and then you wind up making profoundly stupid declarations like Elton John often does. Joni Mitchell, another older musical icon, says stuff like this too all the time - music is dead, no one is cool anymore, bla bla bla. I pray to god that as I get older, I strive to keep an open mind, and have the grace to accept the fact that new generations are building on and expanding the culture and knowledge that my generation created, just as my generation built and expanded upon the generation before me, and that just perhaps I should accept and maybe even enjoy the idea that maybe I just don't know everything there is to know anymore. If Elton John did that, he'd probably be a much happier dude, and ditto his boytoys. They have to listen to that shit all day!

    Posted by: Sparky | Aug 3, 2007 8:28:22 AM

  17. Disney-boy probably caught the Furnish on Manline and now he blames the internet.

    Posted by: A.J. | Aug 3, 2007 8:47:34 AM

  18. Quantity isn't the same as quality.

    There might be more variety than ever before out there right now -- and we are indeed in the foothills of a potential renaissance -- but great art has never come from the kind of surfacey, showy variety we've got now. Sure, it looks good and sounds good on paper, but Elton is right that our current way of doing things doesn't bode well for long-term ARTISTIC VISION. There's no VISION to anything right now... You know, Madonna had/has vision... Elton John has vision... Vision makes a great artist great. Even a lot of cheesy 80's artists had vision.

    Right now the vision is "My Humps" and "Big Girls Don't Cry". (Ugh!)

    Hip-hop has taken over and brought everything down to the level of social statement and social protest, and we live in a society that's constantly changing, faster and faster. That means that the artistic statement is expired almost as soon as it's released. That's why artists are sticking to "Hey There Delilah" and "Shut Up and Drive" and "Umbrella". It won't necessarily expire, but it's meaningless and it has no vision.

    To bring on a true renaissance, which is very possible, we need quality. We need depth. We need thoughtfulness, and not just empty lyrics. We need poetry! The internet may be an amazing vehicle for communication and connection, but where's the depth? How many blogs really dig deep into their subject matter?

    Just look at the state of most gay blogs that aren't political. You'll see enough pictures of hot guys to last ten lifetimes. It's all about the surface. It's all about reporting the news, not digging deep.

    When it comes to music, bring on artistic vision, bring on greatness, bring on depth, meaning, thoughtfulness, poetry, beauty... That's what Elton John is rooting for. Stop reading it like he's a dolt. He may be a spendy queen, but the man has sold more records and written more songs (like "American Triangle" and "The Last Song") than you have. And remember that Elton John has done more for the AIDS crisis than most of us put together. Give the man a little respect.

    Posted by: Shawn | Aug 3, 2007 9:12:57 AM

  19. I'd point out how hostile the Internet has made interactions among many people, but I'm afraid somebody will call me a bitter old queen. Or worse.

    Elton is off his rocker with regard to the current genesis of music, but he's spot on with regard to how so many people don't use the Internet as a mere tool but as their way of moving about in the world.

    That's just sad.

    So sit down at your keyboard, mates, and type out something really mean! And hit the keys really hard if you need to emphasize something.

    Posted by: Ludditechie | Aug 3, 2007 10:03:19 AM

  20. Sparky said: "I pray to god that as I get older, I strive to keep an open mind, and have the grace to accept the fact that new generations are building on and expanding the culture and knowledge that my generation created"

    I once thought the same thing, Sparky. Speaking as someone who has passed the rickety old-age threshold of 30 I can attest that it becomes harder to do with time.

    What happens is that all those notions that inspired you at 22 become usurped or replaced by ideals of a younger generation that you cannot relate to.

    Take for instance, some of the older gays on this site: you hear them often bemoan how the younger gay generation seems indifferent to activism. For these men, back in the day, activism was the radical battlecry of the young. Now, what seemed to be such a youthful motivation (marching and fighting for our rights) seems totally out-of-step with the younger generation.

    So Sparky, don't be surprised if the kids who are now 7, 8, 9 years old now grow up to have values that you do not understand and cannot accept.

    Then it hits you. You're one of those closed-minded old dudes.

    And yes, most of us older guys also thought "but that won't be me."

    Posted by: mark m | Aug 3, 2007 10:08:23 AM

  21. I'd like to add that, while I understand why Elton can't relate to what's going on in the "younger" world around him, I do not agree with his take on the Internet.

    The Internet is the greatest invention for communication since the Printing Press (yes the history books of the future WILL say that).

    Posted by: mark m | Aug 3, 2007 10:14:49 AM

  22. Who's Elton John? The name sounds kind of familiar. Probably some band that only old people listen to.

    Posted by: 7 | Aug 3, 2007 10:18:58 AM

  23. Fucking bitches.

    Posted by: Beethoven | Aug 3, 2007 10:26:29 AM

  24. shawn -- "my humps?" is that what you think we're talking about? seriously man, who listens to that shit? i'm talking about a whole musical revolution that is taking place outside the mainstream of music companies, mtv, and radio. that is huge. like some other guy on here said, maybe you just dont' like contemporary music because you're older, but with those examples you gave, i think it might be more that you just don't know what kind of music is actually being made. i mean no one listens to fergie unless they just don't know any better...

    Posted by: dan | Aug 3, 2007 10:42:18 AM

  25. he does have a point that we are not in a period of highly creative works coming left and right as in the 70's. but there was a lot of crap then too. Today is just 50 "spice girls" etc. for one good artist like a rufus wainwright.

    Posted by: Richie | Aug 3, 2007 10:47:14 AM

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