Politics and music don’t mix… with what’s happening on Wall Street and with our financial institutions today being such a charade, every time I read a Matt Taibbi piece in RS that reminds me of the f***ed relationship between our politicians and bankers I am inevitably reminded of the equally f***ed relationship between artists and labels and the shenanigans the labels continue to dish out.
The (New) New Music Seminar was in full swing at Webster Hall in NYC last month. They held a panel aptly entitled – Music Labels The Businesses Formerly Known as “Record Companies” – with 8 label execs (from both indie & major labels) there to discuss the decline of the record business and rise of the music business. I’m encouraged, 18 years after the first MP3 files made their way onto the Internet, to see such a distinguished group of label execs finally trumpet the demise of the record business. Well done guys! The best statement belongs to Benjy Grinberg, Rostrum Music President, who astutely said “The power is with the artist…” followed by “but the infrastructure and guidance [of a label] is still important.” Nicely done Benjy, you get it dude!
A label is there to help you do two things – make your music and sell your music. Most artists today can make music for a fraction of the price, so they’re really only beholden to their label for their marketing & promotional efforts, which comes down to what today:
– album recording budget (100% recouped from artist royalties);
– radio promotion (also 100% recouped from artist royalties);
– video production & promotion (check! 100% recouped from artist royalties too);
– tour support (100% recouped from artist royalties & usually capped with a ceiling);
– licensing (split 50/50, but any money you make here will be used to recoup the above costs so you won’t see any of it unless you actually wrote your own music)!
If you the artist end up paying for most everything, then why do you the artist still continue to give away more than 80% of your ℗erforming Rights to labels with zero guarantees from your labels that they’ll even honor their Recording Agreement with you, let alone actually do any fuckin’ work to market & promote your music?
Why is it that your label keeps the ℗-house after you’ve paid the loan back on it? No bank in the land treats you this way once your home loan is paid off… Think artists THINK! And don’t be scared to go it alone, especially today when there are so many easy and powerful ways to connect with your fans!