Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The unfortunate side of Capitalism and the Arts (part 2)

Hi everyone,

Sorry it took me so long to post, Jackie and I went camping for the fourth with my sister Kim, and brother in law Chris... Anywho...

At that point I was very naive (obviously) but was onto something...

The way the music industry works:

Bands flood the music scene, playing local shows, recording demo CDs all in the hopes that a label will sign them on.

For the lucky few that “make it” they sign a contract that gives them maybe a dollar (probably less) for selling a record that sells for 15-20$. In the midst of signing that lovely contract you as a musician give all of your copyrights of your music to the label. That means, you no longer own the music that you wrote! It now belongs to a label.

        If you don’t believe me consider the Beatles, Paul McCartney lost the rights to over 200 songs after a bidding war with         Michael Jackson. While McCartney still earned royalties, he had no say on who used the songs for what purpose (which is         probably why we heard gettin better on GE Commercials in the early Milli).

From this point the Label then gives the band a huge loan 75,000$+. The band is then put in a studio, and meet this new guy who says he is the producer. The producer then tells you why your music is bad (which isn’t always a bad thing) he changes lyrics, changes song structure, song meaning, but keep in mind, his goal is not to make a timeless record, his goal is to make an album that will sell, and to make that album sell fast.

Remember earlier how I pointed out that the band will make a dollar off of a record sale? Where does the rest of that money go? According to this website 24% of that money goes to the retailer, and 63% of it goes to the label... and 13% goes to the band (which I couldn’t find it’s sources, but I can’t imagine that it is far off). Wait a minute....! The label gets almost 2/3’s of all the money made off of record sales? (No wonder they are pissed off about Pirating) Lets think about this. The band takes out a loan to pay for recording a record that they don’t get much say in. In return the label owns all of the rights to the record, and makes 2/3’s of the profit off of the album. Does this remind anyone else of the mob? Back in the days when they charged business owners fees to protect them, and if they didn’t pay the fees they would torch their buildings. What other business practice has policy like this? Can you imagine buying a car only to have the dealership take the car and use it whenever they want to, and then when you decide to sell it, the dealership takes 2/3’s of the money you made from it?

Remember that giant loan? That loan pays for the record being recorded, it pays for the producer, it pays for all of your food, it pays for the music video for your single off the album and it pays for your personal gear.

Once the album is done it is time for you to promote it: hello life on the road. 7-10 months a year spent touring. This usually broken up, so good luck finding a job that is ok with you leaving for months at a time.

Playing concerts is typically where a lot of bands pull in their money, mostly from selling merch, but also from ticket sales. At this point the band members are making payments on the loan, and trying to make a living off of what is left over.

Let’s Recap: (for fun replace the words
Band with business owner,
with mafia,
with business,
and Record with protect)

Band signs up with label.

Band gives all rights of music to label.

Band takes out giant loan from label to pay to record music that the band has no rights to.

Band dies in crack house owned by the label

So really why would anyone want to get signed with a label? Ever? Seriously?

I will wrap this up in Part 3

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