Ok, so this bullshit has been going on for what, ten years? I am not referring to me trying to get a meeting with Heidi Klum to convince her that I can spin her house parties. Wait I am actually talking about two things happening simultaneously.
1) One the fact that records business is in such demise (poor poppy shit, over manufactured rap beats, and silly white kids hawking their Disney shows) is killing the masses. If Mao were alive today, he would say “shit music is the opiate of the masses.”
2)And the insistence of the Record Labels forgetting that although content is king, it’s actually more like the prince, waiting to take the reins and that true kings of the digital age of music are actually the fans who, gasp are still actually wanting to buy music in whatever format.
This rant might be in code for fear of getting sued today. I am clearly annoyed today. Just bear with me.
Back to the 90’s, there was this little rapper called Jay Z. No one would give him a chance. So what he and his crew did still rings true today and no more than in Los Angeles, where the crappy bands get signed and get exposure, and the truly unique ones, are left looking for deals.
Jay Z would hang out by this hotdog stand on 6th Avenue and 8th Street in Manhattan and start slinging CD’s and he got the word out there. We know the rest. Which now brings me to the real point of my rant.
More and more I am hearing about bands bitch about piracy and illegal downloads blah blah. Sorry, I know your coke habit is expensive and dressing your 23 year old girls in Gucci is expensive (your like a rock and roll equivalents of John McCain who have truly forgotten what it’s really like for the rest of us) but really keeping people waiting ten years plus for new material is kinda of like a promise ring…I might get bored having to wait that long and in the mean time, you have fallen off the map.
Whether I am talking about the Guns & Roses-Anti Quiet lawsuit and arrest or something else is up to you determine. I am down with what Anti Quiet did and know it must be huge if the LA Times actually reports it! But seriously, Anti-Quiet drummed up interest for a bunch of long hairs and now is paying for it, why is that?
I don’t want some overly priced ESQ. coming after me for libel or some shit like that. What I am thinking though, is the old adage, “any pr is good pr,” so in an era where you have not surfaced for years, you’re still rich and the digital media has totally changed (unlike your hair styles), I challenge these big timers to come out for a night at Mr. T’s or The Echo to see how the world of music has changed. Please leave your lawyers at home.
Music and its distribution have changed and are changing so dramatically, almost it feels hourly. What has not changed is the establishment trying to fend off this small thing called the Internet. And I remind you, the web is democratic, all and everyone can share in, whether it is through blogs, social networking, and youtube and beyond. And it’s free. As it should. Get my point. The actual content we all bump in our apple products should be free because now, as opposed to fifteen years ago, there are more avenues for artists to distribute their music and in turn get paid - video games, ring tones, TV, kiosks, satellite radio and shows on AA flights, get my point? Lead with free music and make it up and more via all these new avenues.
Look at the landscape now and you see the real pulse of music is the bands doing everything truly on their own. They connect with “friends” via Facebook and Myspace, send out event invites and you get them to come out to listen to you because they were given mp’3 before your show. They press their own CD’s, collaborate, mix, re-engineer virtually and they oversee their own public identity and still having to put on a great show that night!
The record labels and their attorneys are essentially like the old monopoly telephone companies, whose response to change is, “well its always been this way” as they bleed more profits from us just because they can. And they like to add, we have put all this money into your band, so now what…? Recoupment is like being an indentured servant. It is totally unacceptable.
Lefsetz was right, if you let the content out you’re constantly reminding a newer generation that it’s there and you open yourself up to the discovery of new fans. So why sue when you get people talking about you?
Very simply, because you don’t mind a leak if the music is good. If its crap, you sue, because you know people won’t come out and dig for it. What we have now, is really an amazing opportunity, nothing as crazy a true Chinese Democracy (even the Olympics won’t change that) but a music democracy where the people and artists own the content and the ability to put it where it mostly belongs—in the hands of the people who listen to music (not the suits, not the dj’s, not the lawyers) and watch it spread virally if its any good.
And no, I am not advocating selling out to the local bands we cover here at Loudvine. You are part of the reason music distribution is changing, because we now have access to more real music, more imagination then ever. Don’t lose your soul looking for a deal. Rather the opposite. Continue to put your content out there and let it be what guides the process and bring people in yourselves, create your own buzz. Don’t be like those pampered fools. When the labels come calling, don’t forget to do two things. Forget your lawyers and continue making great music. It wins out in the end. It might not help you end up with a mansion overlooking Sunset but at least you know that one thing has not changed in the music industry-- no one can knock the hustle.