Sunday, July 21, 2024

Shows and dramas on the music business: money does not talk, it sings

One of the crushingly saddest things about HBO content not being available on Disney+Hotstar after March 31, apart from not being able to watch Game of Thrones on repeat or taking another trip with Joel and Ellie through a post-apocalyptic U.S., is the horror of not being able to watch Vinyl again.

Vinyl has an impeccable pedigree counting as it does Rolling Stones’ frontman, Mick Jagger, director Martin Scorsese, author and Rolling Stone contributor, Rich Cohen, and Boardwalk Empire’s Terence Winter as its creators. With an almost feature-length (113 minutes) pilot episode, directed by Scorsese, Vinyl looks at the music scene in the 1970s through the eyes of a record executive, Richie Finestra (Bobby Cannavale), as he desperately looks for the next big act to promote.

The song remains the same

Cannavale is on fire as Richie who is trying to hold it all together even as he struggles to stay sober while keeping his label, American Century, and marriage to former Factory model, Devon (Olivia Wilde), afloat. Featuring a cavalcade of historical personalities from Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant (Zebedee Row) complete with the blue, puff-sleeved shirt from the Madison Square Garden concerts of 1973, Alice Cooper (Dustin Ingram) and David Bowie (Noah Bean) to Elvis Presley (Shawn Klush), his manager Colonel Tom Parker (Gene Jones) and Beatle, John Lennon (Stephen Sullivan), there is an air of hyper-reality to the show.

Though Vinyl features all these incredible musicians and Jagger’s doppelganger son, James Jagger, as the lead singer of the punk band, Nasty Bits, the 10-part series also focuses on the industry, the managers, the executives and all the support staff including the sandwich girl, Jamie (Juno Temple), who discovers Nasty Bits.

Hit the road, Jack

A large part of being a rockstar is the relentless touring and the toll it takes on the musicians as we saw in the recently dropped, faintly soap-operatic Daisy Jones & the Six. Roadies, created by rocker royalty, Almost Famous’ Cameron Crowe, with J. J. Abrams as one of the executive producers, stars Luke Wilson as the tour manager Bill Hanson, and Carla Gugino as the production manager Shelli Anderson, for the Denver-based The Staton-House Band.

Roadies begins with a quote by singer and guitarist, Tom Petty. “I think the general public has no idea what roadies do. Bless ’em all, I just play the songs, they make the show happen.” That, in a nutshell is what the Roadies is about. From finding a nanny/manny for the lead singer’s “devil child”, Winston, (Ethan Michael Mora), to protecting the microphone used by Bruce Springsteen in the ‘Dancing in the Dark’ video (yes the one featuring Courteney “Monica” Cox) from a fanatical groupie, the roadies make it all happen. Again featuring beautiful music, Roadies is a warm and lovely paean to the default family of a touring rock group. There is the lighting rigger Kelly Ann (Imogen Poots), who is torn between the tour group and film school, her twin Wes (Colson Baker), heartbroken because he is fired from Pearl Jam as a roadie, show-me-the-money accountant Reg (Rafe Spall) and Gooch (Luis Guzmán) the tour bus driver who feels Bob (Dylan) knew the truth.

If Vinyl celebrates the excesses of rock ‘n’ roll, complete with lush needle drops and a glorious wardrobe, of the 1970s, and Roadies looks at the challenges of getting a ginormous show on the road in times of consuming content on tiny screens, Netflix’s The Playlist is a fictionalised look at the music streaming service, Spotify.

On the spot

The Swedish mini-series is based on Sven Carlsson and Jonas Leijonhufvud’s non-fiction book, Spotify Untold and tells of the seismic shift in the music industry from six perspectives. There is ‘The Vision’ which speaks of a brilliant coder, Daniel Ek (Edvin Endre) who after selling off his company looks around for a new project and finds it in the lacuna created by the constant war between pirated streaming sites and the music industry. He seeks to fill the gap by creating a legal platform to share music.

‘The Industry’ is from the perspective of Per Sundin (Ulf Stenberg) an executive of Sony Music Sweden, while ‘The Law’ is from that of music licensing negotiator, Petra Hansson (Gizem Erdogan). ‘The Coder’ tells the story of Andreas Ehn, (Joel Lützow) Spotify’s first employee, ‘The Partner’ is of Spotify co-founder and primary investor, Martin Lorentzon (Christian Hillborg) and the sixth and last episode is from the artiste’s perspective with Bobbi Thomasson (Janice Kamya Kavander), a musician and Daniel’s classmate, taking centre-stage.

Like all artistes, musicians come with a hefty dose of temperament and music, with its underlying caveat of celebrating bad behaviour, even more so. Where Peter Jackson’s The Beatles: Get Back is a 468-minute love letter to the Beatles and their creativity, these shows reveal the business of the industry, which converts all the inspired cavorting of the beautiful people into cold, hard bank notes. As the psychedelic poets said, “Grab that cash with both hands and make a stash.”

#Shows #dramas #music #business #money #talk #sings

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