AN OPEN RESPONSE TO DON VALENTINE'S ARTICLE "FUTURE OF POWER POP"

Don Valentine hosts a blog called, "I Don't Hear a Single". TSH HQ read his article on the future of Power Pop, which can be seen here:

https://hearasingle.blogspot.com/2021/06/the-future-of-power-pop.html?fbclid=IwAR2JLCPoavBet5BVCXBVdB-hu9YsbhJBzVUjWmagXCA_TRMaGJWto7Hkjwc

Frank Gradishar of TSH has penned an open response:

An Open Response to Don Valentine’s Blog “The Future of Power Pop” 

Let me start by saying, I appreciate Mr. Valentine’s opinions and appreciate his intellect on the topic. Being an independent “artist” myself, I think there are a few points that need to be stated in support and opposition to this article. 

“You can love The Beatles and new Power Pop artists, the two aren’t mutually exclusive.” 

I could not agree more with Mr. Valentine on this point. The overt bias of many power pop fans towards artists that emulate the Mersey sound is certainly annoying, and suggests a remarkably limited view. 

I also cannot stand the “Is it Power Pop?” question and debates which seem to pop up on many websites and FB group pages with alarming regularity. 

I will cite Rick Springfield on a recent Sirius radio show of his, who stated, in summary and not verbatim, “Power Pop is about good songs, played by real musicians, with guitars, and hooks, and melodies and harmonies.” That seems good enough for me. 

There are boatloads of great Power Pop artists who are not the Beatles, The Kinks, The Small Faces, The Raspberries, Jellyfish, Badfinger or Big Star. Take a look at Velvet Crush, The Odds, Tommy Keene, Teenage Fanclub, The Smithereens, XTC, Cheap Trick, Urge Overkill, Gin Blossoms, Fountains of Wayne, Material Issue, Sloan, The Jam, and a slew of modern acts, a list too long to add here. 

“I Have a Load of Time for David Bash…” 

I do too. I appreciate Mr. Bash’s tireless dedication to champion and highlight modern Power Pop bands and artists, including those he invites to play his annual IPO and those he asks to be included on his IPO Compilations. 

While I see Mr. Valentine’s argument that it might be nice if Mr. Bash could pay artists that are invited to play IPO, I would suggest that Mr. Valentine misses the mark somewhat. While artists are not paid for their appearance at IPO, I was always happy to take part because there is a true value to the exposure getting in front of like-minded music fans who attend the shows. Those folks will hopefully dig my band, maybe tell a friend, buy a CD, or listen to our streams. 

On the topic of paying to be included on the IPO compilation, I see no issue there. Again, it’s all about exposure. If I have spent thousands of dollars recording a single, EP or album, why would I balk at paying $300 to have my song included on such a release? 

We have been fortunate to be included in other compilations, such as those curated by Bruce at Not Lame and Wayne at Ice Cream Man Power Pop and More. Bruce's was a CD, and we were not asked to pay anything. But I would have! 

“The problem is the pluggers…” 

Mr. Valentine took aim at Radio Candy. Based on my personal experience, this attack is unwarranted. 

In short, from my experience, Marc Platt who operates Radio Candy is a good guy who runs a business to help bands promote their songs for a fee. I do not see an issue here. It’s all about marketing and getting your songs heard, by whomever, wherever and in whatever format the songs might be listened to. Mr. Platt was honest an up front with me about what he does, and he promised me no results, no chart placements, or anything else. What he does for my band is rather simple. I pay him to send ours songs to people in hopes they will play the songs. He does not promise those folks he sends the songs to will listen or even play them. But again, if I have shelled out the money for recording a sing or EP, in whatever format, CD Vinyl, why would I not spend a few hundred dollars to get a song out to people? Could I spend hours tracking down email addresses to send my songs to? Absolutely! Do I want to? Nope. Time is money. 

So when an indie artist pays to have his or her songs plugged or push, I see it as an investment in his or her art. Are they rich? I don’t know. Do they have “rich parents” as Mr. Valentine suggests? Maybe. And what if they do have rich parents who support their endeavors? 

I should note, that my band, Thrift Store Halo is a passion; a hobby. I am a lawyer by trade, so I can afford to indulge my hobby and pay folks like Mr. Bash and Mr. Platt, to assist me in promotion. I am sure many folks cannot afford to or do not want to pay for this type of promo. Fair enough. But why spend all your time making music, recording and releasing that music, and not spend a little extra to get more people to hear it? 

On the issue of indie/internet radio there are many great ones out there, including, but not limited to those run and operated by Boris Boden, Jim Prell, DJ Gidget, Jeff Shelton, Alan Haber, Wayne L. Ford, Rick Boucher, Gerard Girard, Di Kulka, Rick Warhall, Simon Edwards, Brian Blum, who all, I suspect are not getting rich from their stations. 

On the topic of indie labels, Pravda Records and Pravda Music Publishing has been great to work with all these years. Also, Kool Kat Musik demands props! 

“…there is something fishy about such a chart” 

Thrift Store Halo has been included on indie radio/internet radio charts many times. I find that flattering. That said, I do not claim to know how the charts produced by several internet radio stations are generated. I suspect Mr. Valentine does. 

What I find interesting about this article is that Mr. Valentine failed to disclose to the reader that his blog, I Don’t Hear a Single, had its own chart, which was part of the RIA, which he attacked in his article. His station, was, based on information and belief, actually operated for a time by Mr. Platt. So, I wonder if his attacks on Radio Candy are personal on some level? 

I have never paid to be included on any chart. I have not seen any drop off in number of followers because I have said thanks to a radio station for playing our songs. Perhaps others have. But I do pay, gladly, for the assistance of folks like Mr. Bash and Mr. Platt. I will continue to. 

In the interest of full disclosure, I should note, I have sent Mr. Valentine each of my band’s releases, and he has, to the best of my knowledge, never listened to them and he has not reviewed them. However, I have zero issue with that fact, or with him. He is passionate about music, and he reviews and champions the artists he likes. No harm in that whatsoever. Many other reviewers whom I sent music to, have. 

In conclusion, I love Power Pop, and I am happy to be in a band that has been part of the Chicago Power Pop scene for over 25 years. In the end, it’s not about blogs, reviews, internet radio, internet radio station charts, reviews, write-ups, social media, pushers or bloggers. It is about the music. 

Based on what I continue to hear being produced and released by so many artists, the future of Power Pop looks bright.

Frank Gradishar
Chicago, Illinois 
July 1, 2021