Kevin Fleming

*Remember the time when we would hear a song on the radio and then jet to the record store and buy the album or CD? Back in the day we would make it our business to know the release date of our favorite artist’s new album or CD. For many of us, those days are long gone. While our love for music may not have weaned, our willingness to take the time to listen and spend our money on music seems to be a thing of the past.

Who has the time? Our lives are hectic and we rarely have time to sit down and listen to a full album. Plus, we’ve been conditioned to react to singles. We’re influenced by music critics and buy into the notion that if a project is not “the biggest and best” then it’s not worthy of our attention. And if our money is funny—buying an album is a luxury we may have to pass on. I get it; disposable income is hard to come by, and for many of us, free music is available. So as the saying goes, why buy the cow when the milk is free.There are plenty of on line sources to search, hear, preview and buy music. Many of today’s music sites allow us to not only listen but download songs to our computers and portable devices for a minimal charge and in many cases free of charge—and for most folks, that’s enough.

Don’t get it twisted; there is lots of music being sold. As of this week, the top ten selling recording acts of 2011 are Adele with 4.6 million in sales; Lady Gaga with 1.9 million; Lil Wayne with 2.7 million; Mumford & Sons with 1.3 million; Jason Aldean with 1.3; Jay-Z & Kanye with 1.1 million; Beyonce has sold almost 1 million; Katy Perry with 900,000; Bruno Mars with 880,000 and Lady Antebellum with 860,000. It’s worth noting that Nicki Minaj, Rhianna and Chris Brown all have sales around 800,000 units. The point I’m trying to make is how many of those acts’ current CD’s are on your iPod playlist? Check the disparity: Jill Scott’s latest CD has sold 370,000; Charlie Wilson has sold 260,000; Ledisi 171,000; Mary J. Blige 150,000; Mint Condition 57,000 and Lalah Hathaway less than 25,000 units. As you see, when it comes to urban music, R&B, soulmusic the record sales simply don’t measure up. Many of our favorite acts are floundering when it comes to sales and in a bottom line business, no record sales means no record deals.

Let’s take back the control of our music. Over the holidays pick up or download a new CD… And please pay for it! Don’t have your cousin Ray Ray illegally download it or burn a copy from his baby mama’s bootleg CD collection. Then after you buy the music—listen to it, the whole thing! And tell your friends about what you think of it… good or bad. And if you like it, encourage them to buy it.

I recently took a road trip and used the five hours of driving time to listen to the new CD, Condensate from the band formerly known as The Time, The Original 7ven. I, like many of you have been a fan of The Time since they dropped their self titled debut album in 1981, thirty years ago. To be honest, I wasn’t sure what I was going to get. The Time, is known for their funk, fun, pop, rock, dance,   party and very cool songs– master-minded by the musical genius, Prince. On this new project, his royal badness threw a hissy-fit and refused to allow the band to use the name they had spent 30 years nurturing…al la The Original 7ven. So what would these guys sound like in 2011– minus the heavy hand of their creator and mentor? Don’t sweat, it’s a rhetorical question. From the first track to the last, Condensate is an extraordinary collection of work. In fact, Condensate may be their best work to date as an ensemble. These 50+year-olds have put together a masterful CD. Ok, enough of my gushing; I’m a fan so I’m biased. Don’t listen to me pick up or download Condensate and judge for yourself. If you buy the CD at Best Buy you’ll get the limited edition DVD documentary, on the story of The Time and the evolution of The Original 7ven. If you’re a Time fan, the DVD is a must have.

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