Josh Ritter
Singer, Songwriter, & Musician
03:06

The Music Biz Stinks, But Concerts Still Rock

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Josh Ritter can’t complain about today’s recording industry: the concerts are improving and some lesser-known artists are doing great work.

Josh Ritter

Josh Ritter is an American singer-songwriter and guitarist, named one of the "100 Greatest Living Songwriters" by Paste magazine. He started out studying neuroscience at Oberlin College, but later switched to a self-created folk music major. His albums include the self-released "Josh Ritter" (1999), "Golden Age of Radio" (2000), "Hello Starling" (2003), "The Animal Years" (2006), and "The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter" (2007). His newest album, "So Runs the World Away," was released in May 2010. Ritter's first novel, "Bright's Passage," is due to be published by Dial Press in the summer of 2011.
Transcript

Question: Are you unhappy with the turbulence of the music industry?

Josh Ritter: It’s going through lots of upheaval I guess, but it’s also funny, the people that are screaming the most about it are the ones who have the microphones.  You know, if you are a major record label—and I’ve been a part of several—it must be awful because you have... you’re still working on stuff that you love hopefully you love music and you got into it for that reason, and you’re losing the ability to do what you’re supposed to do, which is sell music. 

I mean, I could complain about that myself, but I don’t because it’s just, I think it’s not worth it and it’s also, you know, that’s the way it is.  Millions of people still listen to the music, they may not pay for it, but they’re still listening.  And hopefully, like there is still a way that they will keep coming to the shows.  The shows are—I feel like, in the last four or five years, the shows have gotten incredible.  I’ve started to see so many more shows that I love because I thought the people were professional.  They’re doing it because they love it, and the show has to be good because that’s the only way now.  People hear a song and it’s like an advertisement for the show, you know. 

Plus I think that it’s incredible still, you can be a part of somebody’s life for 3 ½ to 4 minutes.  So, I could—you know, it’s useless to complain about that stuff.

Question: Which artists on the current music scene deserve greater visibility?

Josh Ritter: Yeah, well that’s—I mean visible or invisible, I’d say like there’s still some people that are doing it like incredibly well.  You know, I think that Glen Hansard, both in The Frames and The Swell Season, is one of the most amazing live shows I have ever seen.  I think that my very impressive wife, Dawn Landes, is amazing.  And I love seeing—Ray LaMontagne is incredible.  I love seeing him play.  Gillian Welch is proof that you can do something with two people that’s pretty life changing.  And then there’s just so, so much music happening right now that it’s hard to name them all. 

Recorded April 5, 2010
Interviewed by Austin Allen


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