Record labels suck donkey balls

You probably won't believe who wrote this. I didn't.

In fact, when I read this KNOWING who wrote it ... I was stunned. Impressed. But stunned.

So read it and realize who's ripping off musicians ... not your kid who downloads a dozen songs a day ... or a CD a week. Look higher up the list - in fact, look all the way to the top - look at record labels. By the way - this was published in June 2000 - at the height of Napster. The whole article is here.

Here's the part that makes me realize this artist has the right idea walking away and independently releasing music online:
Since I've basically been giving my music away for free under the old system, I'm not afraid of wireless, MP3 files or any of the other threats to my copyrights. Anything that makes my music more available to more people is great. MP3 files sound cruddy, but a well-made album sounds great. And I don't care what anyone says about digital recordings. At this point they are good for dance music, but try listening to a warm guitar tone on them. They suck for what I do.

Record companies are terrified of anything that challenges their control of distribution. This is the business that insisted that CDs be sold in incredibly wasteful 6-by-12 inch long boxes just because no one thought you could change the bins in a record store.

Let's not call the major labels "labels." Let's call them by their real names: They are the distributors. They're the only distributors and they exist because of scarcity. Artists pay 95 percent of whatever we make to gatekeepers because we used to need gatekeepers to get our music heard. Because they have a system, and when they decide to spend enough money -- all of it recoupable, all of it owed by me -- they can occasionally shove things through this system, depending on a lot of arbitrary factors.

The corporate filtering system, which is the system that brought you (in my humble opinion) a piece of crap like "Mambo No. 5" and didn't let you hear the brilliant Cat Power record or the amazing new Sleater Kinney record, obviously doesn't have good taste anyway. But we've never paid major label/distributors for their good taste. They've never been like Yahoo and provided a filter service.

There were a lot of factors that made a distributor decide to push a recording through the system:
  • How powerful is management?
  • Who owes whom a favor?
  • What independent promoter's cousin is the drummer?
  • What part of the fiscal year is the company putting out the record?
  • Is the royalty rate for the artist so obscenely bad that it's almost 100 percent profit instead of just 95 percent so that if the record sells, it's literally a steal?
  • How much bin space is left over this year?
  • Was the record already a hit in Europe so that there's corporate pressure to make it work?
  • Will the band screw up its live career to play free shows for radio stations?
  • Does the artist's song sound enough like someone else that radio stations will play it because it fits the sound of the month?
  • Did the artist get the song on a film soundtrack so that the movie studio will pay for the video?
These factors affect the decisions that go into the system. Not public taste. All these things are becoming eradicated now. They are gone or on their way out. We don't need the gatekeepers any more. We just don't need them.

And if they aren't going to do for me what I can do for myself with my 19-year-old Webmistress on my own Web site, then they need to get the hell out of my way. [I will] allow millions of people to get my music for nothing if they want and hopefully they'll be kind enough to leave a tip if they like it.
Who wrote it? Courtney Love. Straight up.

1 comment:

D said...

Sadly, folks no longer buy music nowadays.