Monday, May 28, 2007


Could it be that they ripped people off for too-many years? It's really hard to feel any pity here, though I hope the honest little labels survive this. There's a good chance that many of them will, at least if they've kept their integrity and serviced their fan-bases appropriately. Many little indies have done this, like Ipecac, Wordsound, Relapse, Warp, Sympathy for the Record Industry, Touch and Go, Hydrahead, and many-many others.

I don't have a problem with kids downloading the new 50 cent album, because it sucks. Jay-Z too. If all these mainstream gangster rappers never made another dime off of their music ever again, I wouldn't lose any sleep. Surprise! They aren't making any money off of their stupid albums, that day is nigh!

Even as the industry tries to branch out, though, there is no promise of an answer to a potentially more profound predicament: a creative drought and a corresponding lack of artists who ignite consumers’ interest in buying music. Sales of rap, which had provided the industry with a lifeboat in recent years, fell far more than the overall market last year with a drop of almost 21 percent, according to Nielsen SoundScan. (And the marquee star 50 Cent just delayed his forthcoming album, “Curtis.”) (New York Times, 05.28.2007)

That's right, sales of rap have plummeted by almost 21% in 2006, and it doesn't appear to be any rosier in 2007. Watching these morons lose is pretty exhilarating, but it was the major label execs who wanted to dumb things down and block creativity by forcing these morons on us. The music sucks, and people don't want to pay a lot of money for bullshit hype, so they burn it, download, and so on. If there's never another 50 Cent album ever again, that's fine. Maybe he can go out and get shot again like the fool he is.

Again, the majors created the "creative drought" by shutting-out everyone else. They thought they could simplify the playing-field by narrowing the range of artists and genres, but they forgot one thing: culture doesn't work that way, and artists have to rise organically through merit. It's the fans who decide what is and what isn't a hit, not the labels. They forgot this, and they've alienated music fans for a very long time.

When the technological-fix presented itself to consumers, they took it right-away--what loyalty should they have had to major labels? Just think of all the rock-n'-roll bios and interviews of the army of artists who were ripped-off. You don't think that had an effect too? You're nuts. The CD was created expressly to raise the price of music. Before CDs, an album was around $8.00-$9.00, but the industry realized that you could charge more with a new format--$14.99-$16.99, sometimes more in the early-days of the CD. Also, they could rip-off their roster, since they never contracted for royalties on the new format.

Prince is one great example of the army of artists who were robbed in this manner, that was one main reason he left Warner Brothers in the 1990s. Their response was to make him look crazy. The reason he used the "symbol" was because Warners owned the rights to the name, even though it's his legal name! With no proper protections for artists and consumers through governmental regulations (and adequate international copyright protections), the industry is collapsing naturally. Noting the death of the CD, it must be a very happy day at the home of Steve Albini. Support artists and new music, just remember to pay them if you like their music. Otherwise, there won't be any.

Today's New York Times obit on the music industry: