Music For Money

NPR’s Monitor Mix blog has posted a great interview between Frannie Kelley (the interviewer) and Eliot Van Buskirk and Jay Sweet. Just a few of the bulls-eye, dead-on quotations:

FK: Right, so why are labels still making CDs at all?
EVB: Partially, it’s because they bought out their distributors in the ’80s. They literally own trucks.
JS: Exactly. And also because they need to have some payable against the bands, and they own the manufacturing, the distribution, the marketing etc.
FK: Does the money the average consumer spends on extras (like exclusive tracks) and novelty items, like the AC/DC amp, ever make it to the musicians?
JS: In many ways artists would be better off getting a straight loan from a bank.
EVB: Right, which it sort of is. As a wise man once said, if you want to see the best on-demand free music service in the world, go to YouTube and close your eyes.
EVB: The anger towards the major labels is well-deserved. They are the only industry I can think of that openly scorns, disrespects and tries to fleece their audience at every turn.
JS: If both the artist and the fan feel ripped off . . . that’s a harbinger of doom if I ever saw one.
EVB: I spoke with an RIAA executive around the time of the original Napster lawsuit, and his tone was very much “these goddamn meddling kids” and not “how can we treat our consumers better so they don’t backstab us?”
JS: The fans as the enemy is really a fight you can never win. Ever.
JS: Imagine any other industry where the brand sues its customer base on a regular basis.
JS: Pretty soon you go for a different brand.
JS: Smart bands have great management. Great managers have even better accountants.
EVB: Labels have essentially become banks. Radiohead’s genius with In Rainbows’ was, in part, to use a bank instead of a label. Banks have better terms, assuming you’re an established act like they are.
JS: Exactly what I said earlier.
JS: Bands would be better off taking out small loans than using a label.
JS: At least they would be in charge of their own accounting.

Nick Lowe was on the right track. But it’s well worth reading the whole interview. Well done, NPR!

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