Monday, December 11, 2006


Just when I thought I had said
my piece about greedy fucking music companies, I read the latest in the New York Times about the myriad ways in which Universal Music Group and its ilk use their inflated sense of entitlement to bilk both artists and consumers.

Major labels are starting to demand cuts of concert earnings, t-shirts and other merchandising revenue.

That's right, the best (and probably the only) way for a band to get and stay profitable for any length of time, and the major labels are sniffing around like frat boys at a high school prom afterparty.

They're pissed, see, because overcharging for CDs isn't making them a ton of money. Digital downloads are growing in popularity (the online-savvy like Apple and Amazon have gotten a jump on the major labels) as are other unconventional methods of getting a patterned series of vibrations into peoples' ears. This cannot stand!

No, really, fuck these clownshoes.

Also contained in the article is the single biggest reason to never, ever buy a Zune player (did anybody really need a good reason?): Every Zune you buy gives a $1 kickback to Universal Music. Because you might beam a song to the other loser in your town with a Zune. This is a travesty.

Remember, when you listen to music that is audible to other people, you're stealing from Universal Music.

Steve Rifkind says that illicit file-sharing online and burning CDs for friends is what can account for the minor drop in album profits. Because people have never been able to record and share music for friends until this point in time. I know I've said this before, but I want to drive this home: People who steal music can not count as lost sales, because there is no reason to expect that, were stealing not an option, they would pay for it.

First, CDs still cost too much. This is a fact. I can barely find a CD for less than 15 dollars at a retail store. Ten years ago I bought most CDs for 12 bucks, when the industry was desperate to get everyone to stick with this new format. Then, when tapes were successfully killed, prices went back up. Even though it costs pennies to mass produce CDs. Anyone else see a problem there?

Of course, the real problem is that buying CDs supports all those really shitty artists that get overhyped by the industry. One catchy single gets spit out, payola gets it on the radio, more payola gets it on MTV, Pharell does a beat, it gets sold as a ringtone, the single turns out to be the only half-listenable thing on a wretched album, the artist disappears and the industry churns out something new the next week. So not only do you contribute to that ridiculous cycle, but then you also put money in the pockets of washed-up hacks like Britney Spears and Ashlee Simpson. They get millions from labels to be "names," while not contributing anything to any facet of society. Meanwhile, all those B and C-list artists on the label are lucky to get table scraps; Hell, they're lucky to be able to afford their own contracts (most artists end up paying for their own marketing, production, management, crew, etc., then splitting whatever's left if they have a band).

I've gotta go. I have to finish playing this tiny violin for the execs at Universal Music Group.

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