Monday, November 15, 2010

Who Will Stand Up To The Superrich?

I've never done this before.

This has always been MY blog.

But I read this today, and as much as Lefsetz and I have gone to war with one another every now and then, when he's not drowning in arrogance, he nails it.

This post, he does just that, and if you enjoy music, you owe it to yourself to expose yourself to these words.

Lefsetz riffs on this original post...his reply is below. You can read more here and here.

We had an election in the music industry, the incumbents lost. The public gave the thumbs-down to the major labels, Live Nation and a ton of the acts. But just like in the real world, the only ones hurt were the little people, the acts themselves. Who got famous, but in most cases didn't get rich. Watch Kid Rock's testimony on this. Talking about the "American Idol" stars. The executives got rich off "American Idol", the producers. Even if you won, you gave up the lion's share of your income to the label. That's the way it's always been. But now that the label can't make as much money, you've got to give up revenue on your other, more profitable streams... Why, because the fat cats deserve it!

There's a fascinating column in today's "New York Times" about the superrich. Turns out they're not the people you know, not the celebrities or the singers, but those who work for the corporation and the bankers.

Do you see Jimmy Iovine going on record?

No, that's the job of the RIAA. The RIAA takes the heat for the labels just like Ticketmaster takes the heat for the acts. And if the public is too stupid to realize that the Ticketmaster fees are a result of exorbitant act prices/demands, do you really expect people to know that the real winners in the post-MTV music era were the executives? Mariah made much less than Mottola. And Mo Ostin made more than all of them. You just don't know this.

But you do know music is overpriced and shitty.

But as soon as you say this, there's someone in the industry decrying the inaccuracy and injustice. Music is just as good as ever, and what a value, you can listen to it forever! And you should pay MORE so the music can be of an even higher quality! So they can be richer and have more time to make it. Huh?

This is the same kind of double-speak we get in D.C. That we just don't understand. But we understand that the bank is taking our home and you can't get a good job. We understand we paid fifteen dollars to hear one track. You don't forget that. After all, the public doesn't get its music for free.

Until now.

Never underestimate the hatred of the public towards the music industry. Sure, free is nice, but most people believe they're entitled, after being ripped off for eons. And if there were no copyright, we'd have a whole different bunch of people running the music ship. You see the rights holders, the labels and the publishing companies, use their catalogs to continue to wreak havoc, to make war on their customers, to resist change, not in an effort to save music, but to get richer.

Tell me. Who is the young new record label star?

There isn't one. The rich fat cats don't want to let anybody in. Just like the Forbes 400. Only 16 of the latest list was newcomers. That's down from 40 or 50 in recent years.

And the funny thing is how wannabes are lining up to sign away their rights to participate for poor pay in this old edifice. Wanting their face in lights, thinking that fame is everything, they become tools of the corporation, chewed up and spit out in the process. Today's new major label artists are just like the poor people voting to decrease taxes on the rich, thinking they may be rich one day. But the statistics tell a different story, the odds of getting rich in America, working for the man, are ever lower. Because the man controls the game. And the man wants to keep all the money.

So what is the way out?

It's the acts. It's all new players. The old guard has proven that change is anathema to them, and rich interlopers just want this same power, like Meg Whitman running for governor with her eBay money. She didn't want change, she just wanted to buy her way in. The public didn't buy it.

The public doesn't believe the present music regime is on its side. And the reality is, it isn't.

The present regime says recorded music and concert tickets must be expensive. That you've got to tie in with corporations. Let me get this straight, these same Fortune 500 corporations that are ruining American are going to somehow save music? Music only triumphs when it's distanced from the game, when it personifies truth, when you can believe in it.

And when it's really good. Made by people who've been honing their craft for eons. Not the ten year olds who can't write, sing or play the industry is always trumpeting.

P2P trading and the Internet are the best things to ever happen to music. Because it brings it all to the people. It may not be good financially for the old, very rich guard, or even some old rich acts, but it's fantastic for the public. Isn't it funny that those who can afford to hear everything don't acknowledge this. When I was a kid you had to sit by the radio to hear a track. Now you just fire up your browser and it's right there on YouTube. You can download an entire album for free and find out it sucks, so you don't have to buy it.

But if you like an act, you can still give it all your money. Hell, there are more ways to support your favorite acts than ever. There are those studies saying the music industry in toto is on the way up.

I'm not saying music should be free. I'm just saying we now live in a better world for the consumer than ever.

In the future, how can we get everybody to pay a little for a lot. That's the way out of this mess. The cell phone industry figured this out. Handsets used to be a grand and calls were a buck a minute. Now kids have cell phones and parents like this, because they can be in touch with their progeny 24/7. Technology is not the enemy, it's the solution.

But this isn't about the Napster question. People are trying to solve that problem. With Spotify and other services. This is about the people holding the future back, those presently in power controlling the rights. They are the enemy. And if you don't think this is true, you're one of them or have been brainwashed. Or let me put it this way, if you believe cutting taxes for the rich is going to benefit the poor, how come there's been no trickle down effect in the music business? How come when the hidden fat cats got richer, music didn't get better and concert tickets didn't get cheaper?

The public has very little control over the Fortune 500. Sure, they can stop buying their products, but oftentimes they don't even know what those products are.

But they know what the music industry's products are. And they're not going to overpay for crappy music on the antiquated technology known as the CD and they see no reason to see that hair band at the amphitheatre one more time, paying to park if they didn't even drive and consuming ten dollar beers.

The music industry has been running a disinformation campaign worthy of the CIA. And just like the CIA, most people have no idea who's in the organization. And if you question the CIA's behavior, the blowback is YOU WANT TO BE SAFE!

But music is not your life, hasn't been for eons, even though that's the case when the industry is most healthy. People are not afraid of the rights holders. They've rejected them. And the rights holders have been crying about it for a decade now, to no avail.

Because the public threw the bums out. It's just that the bums don't know it yet.

"Who Will Stand Up to the Superrich?":

Kid Rock video (use Firefox for best results):

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