Career Trajectory: Going Down

SXSW lures a multitudinous motherload of bands to town. This year’s festival showcases roughly 1,400 bands, which sounds like enough to justify clubs nationwide hanging out their “closed due to SXSW” signs, tumbleweeds blowing across their empty stages. But even more bands set up alternative shows outside the SXSW confines, hoping to attract disenfranchised locals and wristband wannabes away from the organized chaos of downtown.

ashlee-circle-2.gifAnd then there’s Ashlee Simpson. She of the lip-synching SNL embarrassment is in town, plying her wares in the midst of the largest musical gathering this side of the National Polka Festival (coming to Ennis TX this May … book now!). Thanfully, Ashlee’s not playing as part of SXSW, which would fully qualify the festival for Jumping the Shark. Ashlee’s not even playing as part of an alternative showcase, unless you consider crooning among livestock the ultimate counter-SXSW programming. No, Ashlee is the featured performer at the Star of Texas Rodeo.

I have nothing against the rodeo, and actually have a fondness for the county and state fairs that were an integral part of my rustic rural upbringing. But it’s a virtual lock that any “popular” artist that hits the fair and rodeo circuit is moving in the direction opposite of up. This comes as quite a relief for those of us who tend to look on teenie-bopper musicians as a harbinger of the impending downfall of music.

But while its comforting to see bubble gum pop on a bill with cow manure and clowns, the same music industry that created Ashlee will simply find another icon to lure dollars away from Generation Z or whatever the hell we’re supposed to call kids spending their parents disposable income these days. I’d like to think that SXSW sticks a finger in the eye of this trend, but the reality is that the music industry has no better idea of how to handle independent music today than it did 20 years ago. Ashlee and her ilk are anathema to those who like their music with meaning, but they are a helluva lot easier to package than another middle-aged road warrior with an abused visage to match his spiritual torment.

So perhaps its up to the multi-media components of SXSW to make this happen. Under the same conference, a documentary chronicles the decline of record label support for artists, and interactive panels discuss the methods for promoting media convergence. It seems as though the upstart members of the festival have become more relevant than its elder musical component, which make it all the more appropriate that we get to witness Ashlee’s descent in parallel.

2 Comments so far

  1. Shriz-noat (unregistered) on March 14th, 2006 @ 10:00 am

    How’s this for perspective? At my place of business (a local car dealership), they’ve been giving away tickets to the rodeo and to Simpson’s show as an incentive to good employees and preferred customers. Meanwhile, SxSW is something most here are vaguely aware of as causing extra traffic on I35 near downtown.

  2. wae (unregistered) on March 14th, 2006 @ 10:55 am

    Does Austin have a beltway? Wherever it is, we’re definitely blogging inside of it.

Terms of use | Privacy Policy | Content: Creative Commons | Site and Design © 2009 | Metroblogging ® and Metblogs ® are registered trademarks of Bode Media, Inc.