40 years of life and crime in the Music Biz

Martin Brinkmann
Jan 23, 2008
Updated • Dec 3, 2012
Music, Music and Video

Yogi send me an interesting article published at the Guardian Online written by Simon Napier-Bell who has been a part of the Music Industry for over forty years. In it he takes a look back at the beginning of his career, how the Music Industry evolved in the wrong direction to finally experience today's meltdown.

I really enjoyed reading the article, how all those small record companies were bought by the majors, how artists had to sign deals that put them at a serious disadvantage if they wanted to sell records, how 2/3 of all Radio stations in the United States were controlled to only play music that was sanctioned and so on.

He is describing the changes that take place these days, that artists sign up at independent labels that give them better contracts and more rights. Wonderful article, really worth a read but be prepared, it's a long one.

But out of every 10 signed nine will fail. A contract with a major record company was always a 90 per cent guarantee of failure. In the boardroom the talk was never of music, only of units sold. Artists were never the product; the product was discs - 10 cents' worth of vinyl selling for $10 - 10,000 per cent profit - the highest mark-up in all of retail marketing. Artists were simply an ingredient, without even the basic rights of employees.

Imagine the outcry if people working in a factory were told that the cost of the products they were making would be deducted from their wages, which anyway would only be paid if the company managed to sell the products. Or that they would have to work for the company for a minimum of 10 years and, at the company's discretion, could be transferred to any other company at any time.


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