I've only occasionally made New Year's resolutions, since there's little about going from December 31 to January 1 that compels me to do resolutions.
But, hey, as a tired trope for unsolicited advice, it works great!
So here are a few New Year's resolutions for every one else in the kids music world except me. (OK, me, too.)
1. The resurgence of kids music is no longer news. When a trend is so prevalent it gets its own acronym (YAKMA - Yet Another Kids Music Article), it's jumped the shark. So I'd like members of the press to stop writing articles along the lines of, "Have you heard? There are a bunch of new kids musicians. [Insert quotation from Dan Zanes.]" You have until February 2007, the one-year anniversary of the Laurie Berkner DVD release. After that, please come up with a new angle.
2. Stop the madness: Enough with the dissing. Artists: Please, please, please stop defining yourselves by who you're not. OK, you're not Barney, the Wiggles, or Raffi. That tells me nothing except you're not purple, dinosaurs, color-coded, or the man who single-handedly created the kids music section in your local record/bookstore. At the very least, tell me who else you sound like -- Fountains of Wayne? Stevie Wonder? Sabbath?
3. "Have you heard? There's kids music entire families can enjoy!" Yes. Yes we have. And while you're at it, dear, beloved kids musicians and members of the observing press, the idea that "music that the whole family can enjoy" is somehow rare has been pretty much obliterated (if indeed it ever was true). I know that it's marketing hoo-hah, but at this point, I'm close to believing that the presence of that phrase (particularly on press releases) is an indicator that it's not one of those many albums that will be of much interest to parent or child or both.
4. Album art still matters. I've harped on this before, but I'm still amazed at how many kids music albums are completely done a disservice by their covers, bad enough to make me put them at the bottom of my to-listen pile. Perhaps ten years from now, when the college students of the Napster era become parents themselves, will kids music join a lot of other music in being a downloaded medium. But until then, most parents and kids will enjoy their music through a physical medium and nothing says "I'm not giving that as a gift" like something that looks like, well, what I could put together. Please take a little time and find someone to put a little thought into the album packaging. See Lunch Money or Frances England for examples of how to do it.
5. Spend less time listening to recorded music and more time listening to live music. No matter where you live, whether you can hear kids musicians every weekend or once a year, go out and hear music with your family. Doesn't have to be kids' music -- classical, folk, whatever. If it involves dancing on the part of the participants so much the better.
6. Spend less time listening to recorded music and more time playing music. I enjoy discovering all these artists and revisiting old favorites with my family. But I rarely derive more pleasure from those than I do plunking out a tune on the piano, or violin, or ukelele while my family warbles along and shakes whatever rhythmic item they have handy. I doubt my kids will remember of these great albums. I hope they remember singing "Pay Me My Money Down" in the living room.
Happy 2007, folks, I hope it's great.