Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Separation of Powerlessness

In years past in the music business it was considered unconscionable for any one entity to control every – or even several – aspects of an entertainer’s career. To restate this simply, an artist could conceivably have the following streams of income: record sales, royalties from songs they may have composed, the sale of merchandise and live performances. Traditionally (and for reasons that remain wise and healthy) these various revenue streams were derived from separate sources. Of course, there have always been artist managers who have attempted to tap into all of this money but that is not the issue here.
Now that the traditional music biz has collapsed (except for the vile and greedy few who continue to milk the dead cow via their tenure and arrogant, short-sighted views) the old guard is trying to change the wisdom of the past. New, young and potentially successful artists are signing egregious and usurious contracts with record labels that include clauses wherein the labels themselves participate in each and every income stream aforementioned.
Now, I blame them for trying. This represents the very last, dying ember of the music industry as we’ve known it. It may even have risen to the level of unlawfulness. I suspect we will find out soon.
They call these contracts ‘360 deals’ wherein a record label has its hands in every pocket an artist has. And these are being offered from the same people who have blindly, arrogantly and single-handedly ruined the business they are now trying desperately to salvage. (Actually, they don’t give a rat’s ass about the business or the music: they simply want to preserve their paychecks, benefits and bonuses.)
Please wake up, people: it’s over and the sooner you get out of the way the sooner the music and the industry will be healed. These ‘360 deals’ are no more than a circle jerk. The inevitable next step is the ‘720’ wherein the artists and the listeners get screwed twice. And then comes the ‘1440’ in which we all die.