Andrew Shapter & Joel Rasmussen

The Austin filmmakers traveled the country to explore the state of today’s popular music for their documentary Before the Music Dies, which features interviews with Doyle Bramhall, Elvis Costello, Branford Marsalis, and Eric Clapton, among others.

How is today’s hand-wringing different from just another generation’s complaining that music is no good anymore? JR: There’s consolidation across the record companies, radio, and retail. Radio playlists are increasingly homogenized; diverse stores like Tower Records are out of business. If you don’t have a computer or acts coming through your town, your way to find music has been compressed. People now think in terms of quarterly earnings. That’s cause for uneasiness, especially if you’re talking companies that are promoting talent. AS: That said, if you investigate iTunes, listen to public radio, or visit a MySpace band site, you’ll discover that the music industry is alive and healthy.

Now you’re promoting your own film. JR: We’re taking this out in a grassroots way that’s consistent with the film’s message. Screenings will happen the first two or three months of 2007; then that will likely roll over to a full theatrical release, with the DVD release later.

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