Monday, August 10, 2009

Don't Look Back

There comes a moment in everyone’s life when you know that it’s time for a fresh start. Maybe it’s work, maybe it’s a relationship, maybe it’s even just where you live. I know the time I decided to leave my first real employer, not high school job or the college summers job but my first honest to goodness adult job. I was grateful for the initial opportunity; they took a chance on me when all I had was my diploma and a smile.

But I started to feel that they were using my talents and skills and in return I got more work with more headaches. There was just a day that something in my head clicked. This employer was doing more harm than good for my career. Yes, my customers liked me. Most of my colleagues were good people with the exception of the one or two who lied just to make themselves look better at anyone’s expense. But my career had plateaued there and the only way up was out. It was funny but literally the day I heard that click in my head, I received a call from a headhunter who had a new employer who had heard of my work and wanted me. As it turns out, leaving that job was the best thing I could have ever done.

Don’t look back
A new day is breakin’
It’s been too long since I felt this way
I don’t mind where I get taken
The road is callin’
Today is the day

Today, the fans of Clay Aiken received glorious news. Well it’s kind of part two of glorious news, the first being back in February when we learned he had parted ways with RCA. I wrote about it here Listen blog. You can read there about the stunning incompetence, indifference and self-indulgence from those who were charged with taking a proven seller and treating his recording career like they took the playbook from a college paper graded a D minus. It’s a tribute to his talent (now stretching beyond music), his perseverance and his ability to create loyalty that they failed to beat him down. His situation was similar to mine, only on a grander scale and with a binding contract to boot.

I can see
It took so long to realize
I’m much too strong
Not to compromise
Now I see what I am is holding me down
I’ll turn it around

And now we know that Universal/Decca Records sees what we saw and what much of the world saw. There are enough fans with connections to the recording industry and radio to hear professionals shake their collective heads at the way Clay’s musical career was treated. But, that’s the past. RCA is in his rear view mirror.

I finally see the dawn arrivin
I see beyond the road I’m drivin
Far away and left behind

It’s a new horizon and I’m awakin now
Oh I see myself in a brand new way
The sun is shinin
The clouds are breakin
cause I can’t lose now, there’s no game to play

Universal Music Group's Decca Records has an extremely eclectic artist list offering a wide range of music genres. From Andrea Bocelli to Rufus Wainwright to Sting and a whole bunch of interesting pop, jazz, opera and instrumental artists in between. International artists. Respected artists. Decca was a powerhouse in the early years too with many of the biggest names in music on its roster, from Bing Crosby to Bobby Darin to Bill Haley and the Comets.

And in 2009, they want Clay Aiken.

Universal Music Group (UMG) also gets marketing music in this decade with a new playbook required. They don't rely on radio and trying to insert their artists in between the bubble gum pop princess of the month and 42 Rihanna songs. UMG worked with MySpace to start MySpace Music in 2008. They delivered one BILLION video streams to YouTube in that same year. In 2009, they partnered with YouTube to form VEVO which many are calling MTV 2.0. Videos for the digital age. Personally, I don't think Clay could have found a better fit for his music. His online fanbase is strong and knowledgeable in pushing along internet information. It's a partnership made in digital music heaven.

Here’s the voice of his generation. The one who can put lyrics to a simple melody and create heartache in the form of a poem. Perhaps Decca will give him a chance to do more of that. Here’s one who can sing just about every genre and do it better live than he can in the recording studio, something that would cause a mild breakout of hives in today’s young Pro-tools polished singers. Maybe now we’ll get to see what a well promoted album looks like. Maybe when his new album (promised in the first half of 2010) gets the right spotlight, it will bring attention to his last album, On My Way Here, quite simply the best album he’s ever recorded and one of the best albums I’ve heard, period. Maybe now, the versatile voice and the name recognition will end up on a movie soundtrack, where he should have ruled since 2003. (And maybe now that it is pretty obvious that he’s a damn good comedic actor, he’ll get a little part in that movie too.)

For the first time in years, I feel like those maybes are not just wishful thinking. That the shackles are gone and his recording career will be ruled by strategy and smarts instead of stupidity and imperialism and perhaps even retribution. That I won’t have to watch a mediocre marketing effort that makes my head hurt but instead observe one that makes me jealous that I didn’t think of something so clever.

Clay sang it best in a great song that was a bonus track to the last album.

Walk away let my heart pretend
The dreams come true when the story ends
I get on my feet and start again
Say goodbye to all I've been through
And forget I ever knew you.

Here’s a little Boston . Don’t Look Back, Clay.

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Anonymous said...

You have expressed what we all have been feeling and thinking regarding RCA - Yes the light of our hope is growing stronger - and soon - with DECCA - more and more will know what we know about Clay's talent, cuz you know they'll actually get a chance to hear it!

Cam said...

What you have written if what so many of us feel. Thank you!

The ConCLAYve-Nan said...

And maybe you just expressed everythng I feel today! As Clay sings in Forget I Ever Knew You - I'll start living life with no regrets . . 'Cause the best hasn't happened yet!!!!

I'm looking forward to a wonderful ride!

stpteach said...

Here's to the best that's yet to come!

Pink Armchair said...

Wonderful blog about the best news ever. Thanks for expressing what so many of us are feeling today. Congrats to Clay and congrats to Decca for getting him. Here's hoping for respect and promotion...really, for the first time in Clay's career. He looks awfully good on that roster!

tree ~ said...

GREAT NEWS!! Great Blog!!
Oh happy day :o)

hosaa said...

Wonderful blog! Clay Aiken took a dive into the deep end of an unknown future, and he out-swam the sharks. I can't wait to see where he'll go next.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful blog, so much good information about a new beginning for a very talented young singer.

Anonymous said...

Absolute wonderful blog ....can't imagine it being said better. Can't wait to see how this all plays out!

Invisible926 said...

Great blog! Hooray for Clay. I hope he's finally found a musical home.

Ashes said...

What an awesome Monday! Clay Aiken with a new record label and a new CD to look forward to--yipee!

My UMG blog is late, but it's there!


skybar22 said...

I'm in tears, Cori. You brought me to them but Clay's news makes them happy ones. Hooray for Clay and all of his fans. We finally get the chance to see what we all knew he was about. He's a true artist and now he is among his peers. Thanks for articulating what so many of us felt.

AlwaysClay said...

Wonderful Man. Beautiful Voice. Amazing Heart. Fantastic Fans.
It is so exciting knowing there will be a magnificient album soon.

PuddinsJoy said...

Wonderful blog - thanks for helping to spread the fantastic news!
Congratulations to Clay and to us, his fans.
The wonderful journey continues - can't wait to see what's coming next!

claysweetea said...

I dont think my first comment "took", so here I go again.

Thank you for putting into words what I am feeling.

Congratulations Decca for making such a smart decision.

I am so happy for Clay!

Anna said...

This is an amazing, amazing blog. I will be coming back for more. :-D