Labels are Loan Sharks, What Do You Call the Signees?
By Lauran Gangl - MusicDish.com
note: The following is a piece from a debate on the music
community and indie label, GarageBand
Records, over the role of major labels in the music industry:
"One way of looking at a standard record deal is simply as
a loan - with the record company offering initial cash investment
in exchange for profits down the line. But when the share
of the profits they demand is too high, and if your band can
find ways to get moving without the initial cash... then who
needs a record deal?" We felt that Lauran's thoughtful and
insightful piece needed to be shared.]
in the old days, successful actors were enslaved to the moguls
by way of being ordered to do films they had no desire, artistic
motivation, or even financial gain to do. Often, if they opposed
such demands then a "scandal" would ruin their careers, or
- worse - they were found as a "suicide" victim. The studios
were making a fortune, and the moguls didn't want to share.
a very independent minded, courageous, and quite impish actress
said "I'm not going to take it anymore!!!" So she broke free.
She was blackballed from any studio, but she had a plan. She
persuaded her well known actor husband and another well known
comedic actor to join in her revolt and they pulled their
own finances together and bought their own studio, hired their
own administrative staff, hired their own writers and directors,
costumers, - the whole thing. They found investors and risked
their own lives, careers and life savings."
January 14, 1919, this group - known as "the big five" - created
a new corporation: United Artists Pictures. The five were
Douglas Fairbanks, Charlie Chaplin, DW Griffith, William S
Hart, and a woman that cowered from her mother but stood up
to some of the most evil men in show business, Mary Pickford.
United Artists was so successful it outsold Paramount pictures,
Warner pictures and Famous Artists in box office sales for
over 17 years.
demise of United Artists was mainly due to Mary Pickford and
her husband's (Fairbanks) divorce in marriage. But both of
them - and the others - made a huge profit in selling their
shares to other artists that could afford to buy them, and
UA continued until 1986.
is: if these actors of limited talent (as musicians we must
assume superiority of talent over all the creative world ;-)
can organize together to form a multimillion dollar film studio,
having control of their own projects, choice of director,
scripts, etc, then why can't musicians do the same thing?
Why haven't any such masterminds as P Diddy, Madonna, Janet
Jackson, Shania Twain, or their masterful producers Butch
Vig, Mutt Lange, Glen Ballard, et al, start their own record
label? They could then persuade all their artist friends to
follow under the same organized anarchy.
RECORD LABEL EXISTS WITHOUT ARTISTS! My fellow musicians,
for some amazing reason, do not realize THEY ARE IN CONTROL!
MUSICIANS HAVE THE POWER! And yet they choose to accept ridiculously,
restrictive contracts - they sign - no one signs for them.
And sometimes they think they have their own label, but it's
usually just a fašade because it's a Vanity/Artist Imprint
label that reports straight up to a major. These bands beg
and whine about how wrong they are treated, yet they continue
to sign up for renewals.
would like to see an artist like Madonna or even Garbage and
No Doubt say "Hey, we have made money for the majors. We paid
our debt of advances and the 'risk' they took on an unknown.
Now we are leaving, even if we have to take all our money
and buy out our contract. Now we want you, our music artist
friends - and now international artists - such as Missy Elliot,
Moby, Matthew Wilder, Eve, to come join our new label, along
with Prince, Ric Ocasek, Blondie, Dave Stewart, Stent, William
Orbit, Nellee Hooper, and Steely & Clivie (all who worked
on their latest CD).
if all these top sellers walked out on the majors and started
up their own label. IT CAN BE DONE WITH GOOD LAWYERS. Just
as little Mary Pickford had to sell her house and get all
kinds of financing - but she could persuade people because
she was a top box office draw.
why can't musicians unite as artists? What is wrong with us?
Are we so ignorant and selfish? How could film artists do
it in early 1900s yet in 2002 no one in the music industry
has even tried? The Beatles started out very successfully
with Apple (but still it was a sub of Capitol - not totally
independent) but then hired very poor administration - that
was their downfall. But if they'd united with the Elvis, Little
Richards and Simon and Garfunkel at the time - even the Rolling
Stones - then we may not be in the conundrum we are in now.
still surprised that Mr. "Business Wizard" Jagger has not
already done this. He could be the svengali to all beneath
him. It would feed his supposed massive ego, I trust you would
let's do it now. Get a bunch of artists together and do it
alone. Then operate some of the businesses just as the majors
have, with the big names bringing in the money to support
the new and up & comers. It's a win-win situation. All distribution
would be unraveled due to major artists jumping ship so the
distributors, major agents, promoters, box office agents,
radio airplay would follow the artists - BECAUSE NO ONE WILL
HAVE A JOB IF THERE ARE NO ARTISTS MAKING MUSIC!!!
can't these artists see past their belly rings?!!! If you're
lucky, a musician's career lasts about 7 years - then you
disappear into VH-1's "Where Are They Now." But for shareholders
or even A&R execs - they don't have to go back living in Mom
and Dad's basement and singing at bah mitzvahs. No, they would
be reaping in the profits of their label, owning shares of
masters, going on to produce new artists on THEIR roster.
In other words, enjoying a lifelong career.
must believe I am NOT the only one that sees this idea as
something to be proactive about. I aspire to be a mega rockstar
NOT for fame, money, dicks (as opposed to chicks) and the
passion of creating my own music - hell no!!! I want to start
my own MAJOR label and bring in all my friends! Is that so
let's get moving. If Marion 'Suge' Knight can create Death
Row Records in 1992 and reach 26 million in sales in just
four years without the help of a major - and then continue
running his corp from prison! - then we can do it, too.
walk to the front of the bus!
@ Tag It
2001 - Republished with Permission