With all of the press surrounding Motown's 50th anniversary, something sticks out in my mind. Motown, as we've come to know it, does not exist anymore. It appears to not be a label, but more of a "label group," now paired with Universal. There is no more stand-alone Motown, which is kind of a heartbreaker. Knowing the history of the company, it could be said with a high degree of certainty that Motown died quite some time ago. We know that Berry Gordy sold Motown way back when, but at least then Motown was still a functioning entity. Now, it's Motown in name only. A pillar of African-American culture is now simply a marketing tool.
Going to the Universal Motown website, the first thing you currently see is a Ron Browz splash page. That just about tells you everything you need to know. Clicking further, you see a lot of other acts that you would never associate with Motown, the brand. How sad is this? Sure, you still see Erykah Badu included on the site, and even Stevie Wonder, who appears to be the only original Motown act still signed to the label. Stevie has been a quite a soldier, riding with the label for his entire 48-year recording career (who does that?). Of course, catalog titles will still carry the classic Motown stamp, but just knowing that the label is basically been absorbed into its largest conglomerate yet is sad to me. It does not bode well for artistry, I am inclined to think. This is tough; almost as bad as when Don Cornelius stopped hosting Soul Train, and we had to deal with all of those corny new-jack hosts they had.
Happy anniversary/R.I.P., Motown Records.