Bold title, I know. Don’t get me wrong, I love music. But I don’t believe that anyone who truly loves music could possibly claim that they’re happy with the industry today, or even for the last 70 years or so. And it all comes down to one single, seemingly-innocent-yet-all-too-emphasized issue: The music industry is just that- industry. They’re about the money, not the music. That’s the problem. In order to sell albums, they must de-complicate everything creative and pander to the lowest common denominator. That’s where boy bands come from; that’s where idiots like Lady Gaga, Nicki Minaj, Justin Bieber and Kanye West come from…
So who are they? Universal Music Group (UMG), Sony Music Entertainment, and Warner Music Group (WMG). These three companies virtually control the entire industry (lists of labels owned and artists run by each company are linked below). They are the labels. So what is a label? Basically, a label is like a cross between a bank loan officer and a distributor (if they actually are the distributor and not just a middle-man to him). When you get signed (refer to my previous post about getting signed if you’re wondering how, link #1 below), you will likely be given a bonus. This money is given to you for the purpose of covering recording expenses and maybe travel and the like. New equipment if you absolutely need it. But realize that this is NOT YOUR MONEY. You will owe them every penny, whether or not your album is a success. And don’t forget that until you can prove that you can already sell your music, no label will ever be interested.
No matter how talented you may be, “they” will likely have some say in the writing process. This is where the downfall of current music begins (assuming you’re actually talented and/or creative). If Artist A’s second song on their third album went platinum last year, guess what they’re going to want every song from you this year to sound like? Treating music like a business is no different than the film industry making unnecessary remakes and sequels all the time. Everyone knows they will suck, but they keep going to see anyway. The makers have to know they’re selling garbage right? But hey, if it sells it sells.
Why I hate radio. This is actually true; the more I listen to the radio, the more I hate it. Even channels that generally play the kind of music I like listening to. Now that the labels have insured that every new song from Artist B sounds like half the songs Artist A put out last year, it’s almost worse having the radio on than it is to be in silence. Something I’ve been saying for a while now: theft is not rampant in the music industry; it is the industry. And until the mindset of “profits” (AKA greed) changes, the music industry will only continue to get worse and worse. Radio sucks because either they don’t take requests, which says to me that they don’t actually care about the music, just the money, or they do take requests and you get the droolies constantly requesting the stupid shit that’s ruining the industry to begin with. Wayland’s Get A Little is the perfect example of this; Musically it’s about 99% stolen from Joan Jett’s I Love Rock N Roll (another “catchy” song with no meaning, just made to excite the masses and make money), and lyrically it’s the same as almost any popular song by Miley Cyrus. Yet it’s hailed as a great weekend and/or party song. What the serious fuck? So radio stations must play it, so that people will listen and they can earn advertising revenue. Bottom line: radio is powered by money, not music.
Why I’m anti-RIAA. First of all, the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) is a group of labels, about 1600 of them (3), who’s only interest is protecting their own interests (money). They sue individuals for copyright violations (statutory damages can reach up to $150,000 per infringement), fight to extend the length of copyright protection on works they own (film industry is just as bad about this too), and generally just piss on the rights of their artists and fans alike. They’re basically a group of lawyers working for their associated labels. I will say to their credit that no lawsuits have been filed against individuals since December 2008, but until the ridiculous “damages” goes down to a reasonable level ($500 per infringement where it started), there should be no support for them outside of their own corrupt greedy circles. For more on the RIAA, see link #2 below.
I’m not going to go into too much detail of how or why current music gets worse and worse, I think I’ve repeated that enough times here and in previous posts. Let’s just say that if you use autotune you should probably just keep your c**kholster shut, and if you can’t play an instrument or don’t use real instruments (substituting 808 drums, synth, etc), quit calling yourself a “musician” or an “artist,” and go by the title you deserve; “poser,” “gold-digger,” “puppet.” The bottom line here is simply this- the “music” industry is made up of for-profit businesses at every level who don’t give a shit about music. Each individual probably got into the business due to their love of music, but at the end of the day it all comes down to money, and again, the only way to sell to the masses is to appeal to the lowest common denominator.
3. RIAA members- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_RIAA_member_labels
7. Sony Artists- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Sony_Music_artists
9. WMG Artists- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Warner_Music_Group_artists