YNGWIE MALMSTEEN Weighs In On The State Of The Music Business

February 6, 2004

Legendary Swedish guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen recently spoke to Rock Confidential about the long-overdue U.S. release of his latest album, "Attack!!", and his enduring popularity around the world. Asked if his perception of the music business changed for the better or worse after years of playing and recording as a solo artist, Yngwie said, "That's a large question so I'm going to have to give you a large answer. It's unfortunate but it's true. People living in the United States seem to think the United States is the world. The world is not the United States. I love this country. I've lived here for a long time. Not only is there a world outside of the United States, but those people outside of this country do not just like BRITNEY SPEARS and N' SYNC. When we went out on the G3 thing [with Joe Satriani and Steve Vai], none of us have really been in the limelight for quite some time. We were filling the places, cramming 'em in. The bottom line is this: The unfortunate part of the music industry is that it's very non-diverse in the United States. In 1987, '88, if you didn't look and sound like BON JOVI — forget about it. In 1990, '92, if you didn't look and sound like NIRVANA — forget about it. That's not right. That's not the way shit should be done. That's not what everybody in the world is supposed to sound like. For worse or better, I don't know. I think it's been pretty much the same for the last 30 years. It's all about money. That's all it is. A lot of times people ask me if I have any advice to become successful in the music business. I say, 'Let me ask you a question. Do you want to get good or do you want to get famous?' They are two different things. You can get famous without being good. You can be really good without being famous. Sometimes you can be good and famous, but that's kind of rare. If you follow a trend, that's the kiss of death right there. Here today, gone later today. That never works. Longevity is the name of the game. People will know that what you do is real. To me, that is the way to go and it's the only way I know. I can't handle doing trendy stuff. The funny thing is that it's now come to a point, at this particular moment in time as we speak — right now, you and me — there is no formula. There used to be a formula, but there isn't any more. In the '80s, if you had a song and video like [Malmsteen's] 'Heaven Tonight', you knew that song was going to be on the radio. In the '90s if you had something that sounded like 'Smells Like Teen Spirit', which a lot of bands did, you knew that was going to be on the air. Now, there is no formula. For better or worse? I think it may be better because that's why bands like EVANESCENCE got a shot. They don't sound like anything I've heard before. That's great.

"With a combination of CD burning, the internet, cell phones, and the VH1s and MTVs, people get lazy. They don't want to go out and stand in line to see a show. The concert business and the record selling business has gone down. Let's say you're a kid and you have a vision that you want to be rich. Well, one thing you should not do is to get into music. That ain't happening anymore. It's a sad fact, but it's a true fact. A cold hard fact." Read the rest of the interview here.

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