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'Idol's' Jackson: Music 'in the toilet'

Industry has to 'get back in touch'

Randy Jackson

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NEW YORK (Billboard) -- Randy Jackson is a hero. And it's not just because the music-industry veteran -- who is a judge on "American Idol" -- has given a lot of great advice in his Hyperion book, "What's Up, Dawg? How to Become a Superstar in the Music Business."

He is not afraid to rock the boat by criticizing the music industry, even though he could easily coast on his success.

The industry, Jackson tells Billboard, is "in the toilet" and does not seem to know how to pull itself out of it.

"I think record companies are so out of touch with the public, and that's why the music business is hurting," he says.

"The content is bad: The typical album has only two or three songs that matter. Record companies have got to figure out a way to get back in touch with what the public wants.

"What 'Idol' has proved to me is that the public wants the most talented person, no matter what size or color. Most of the people who've gotten far on 'Idol' are people who would never get a deal from record companies."

A noted musician/producer, Jackson previously was a major-label A&R executive (at MCA Records and Columbia Records) who has worked with many of the biggest names in music, including Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston and Celine Dion. Along with his "American Idol" gig, he manages up-and-coming singers Nikka Costa and Van Hunt.

Jackson plans to record a solo, jazz-leaning album with guest performers, as well as start his own record label, all within the next year.

As for the third season of "American Idol," which is currently under way, Jackson says, "I think a girl may win this year." As for the show's pop-culture impact, he remarks, " 'American Idol' is no fluke. The music industry has got to pay attention."

In a business that can easily make people cynical and bitter, Jackson says what keeps him motivated and passionate is that he remembers "what it was like to be the guy trying to make it in the music business. My love for music has never waned, despite the state of commerce in the music industry."

Copyright 2004 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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