Last week Los Angelenos woke up to find the octogenarian owner of the LA Clippers, Donald Sterling, is a racist. No surprise from a dinosaur born 30 years before the Civil Rights Act was passed into law. And it doesn’t appear like his 33 years tenure of the team has softened his stance on “the culture we live in“; then again Los Angeles isn’t known for holding it’s elite citizenry accountable for much so please do not expect anything drastic to come from the City of Angels anytime soon… The only way to get thru to a crusty old fart like Sterling is to hit him where it counts and that’s in the pocket book. If the LA Clippers and their fans really want to get thru to Sterling, then I’d advise them to stop putting money in his pocket starting today. As players and coaches, stop and play no more. As fans stop going to games, stop buying tickets, stop buying merchandise, cancel your season tickets, disengage and sever any ties you might have to Sterling. I hate to ask this of the players and coaches who deserve their playoff run, unfortunately every time they win they add value to the franchise and that’s all Sterling cares about.
The power of a collective boycott would have massive repercussions on Sterling and he would have no choice but to sell the team.
What can musicians learn from this collective bargaining power? Look no further than the new edition of Fredric Dannen’s classic music industry book HIT MEN for the best ever written account of how major record labels are run and the insatiable greed of the men who helm them. The Popovich/Meat Loaf story is but one of so many and while Popovich didn’t live to be properly vindicated, his fight demonstrates you must hit the labels and publishers where it counts – in the pocket book!
The issue of how the money flows out to recording artists & songwriters has long been a sore point and will never be resolved unless the artists and songwriters take a collective position against the lack of transparency and dodgy accounting practices employed by the labels & publishers they’re in business with. Next time a group of recording artists and songwriters are sitting around the campfire wondering why they’re still living in tents instead of owning their homes, I’d recommend a collective audit session of their business partners. If the request is met in a particularly hostile manner, then I’d venture to say that their partners are likely cooking the books. Doubt it…just ask Meat!