Recording Industry Dirt

A couple of weeks back I posted a thread titled "Is There Big Trouble Brewing?". For those of you who did not read it, it's primary focus was on the state of the recording industry and the retail music industry. Some very interesting, intellegent and insightful responses were posted. I would like to Thank those who participated.

Upon receiving the new Stereophile magazine yesterday, I began reading "Industry Update". They must have been reading our thread. I've transcribed an excerpt from a very interesting article written by Barry Willis. It involves "accounting discrepancies" being pursued by the band Incubus. I think some of you might find this interesting also....

"On March 18, LA Times reporter Jeff Leeds offered a trenchant analysis of the band's accouting dispute with Sony, demonstrating how a CDs wholesale price of $12.04 gets windowed down to $5.53 through a series of accounting deductions, including $1.63 for promotional copies, $1.84 for "new technology investments" (the CD is now more than 20 years old), and $1.84 for packaging. The band's "33%" royalty is paid on the reduced amount, not on the manufacturer's wholesale list price."

The article goes on to explain how "the pie" is divided and who is actually profiting from the proceeds. Once again, very interesting. I am sure that some of you may want to debate these numbers, but ultimately, I feel it would probably be a futile effort.

The point being, when you are standing at a cash register ready to dish out $12.00-18.00 for a CD, keep in mind who is actually being supported by the proceeds. We are all responsible for our own decisions. Whether it may be signing contractual obligations with major record manufacturers or puchasing a CD. Ultimately, the decision is our own.

Although, I feel that new musicians and bands are becoming increasingly aware of alternative means for bringing their material to market (can you say "Internet"?)

The music companies are scrambling to reposition themselves as retail music sales drastically drop. Mergers, multi formats, new technologies, etc,etc,etc. Good luck! I would like to send this message out to the major record labels out there...

Take care of "the people" who are taking care of you.

Because soon "the people" might not need you anymore.
I wholeheartedly agree with your last two sentences.

I am increasingly disgusted with state of "the business of new music" and am proportionally impressed with the ingenuity of "new artists" vis-a-vis bringing their music to "the people" (not only can i SAY internet, I can USE it!).

There are hundreds (thousands?) of "new" artists recording today (many times on their own labels because they don't fit the maximum profit role models like Back Strret Boys, Brittany Spears, et cetra). Many of these artists possess tremendous musical ability, songwriting skills and passion. They deserve to have the opportunity to be heard even if they are not a "size 1" / "36D" (if they are female) or "buff" / "cute" (if they are male).

Perhaps if humongous multibillion dollar corporations that own record labels would stop looking to maximize profits at every single turn, they could afford to pay the artists on those labels what they are worth.
There's an interesting documentary film on the band "Wilco" that just came out on video. I think it is named after one of their songs: "I am Trying to Break Your Heart". It is an inside look at how an artisticly-driven band with some success deals with recording a new album (and more), and with their record label who.....well, see the film, I won't spoil it for anyone. Lets just say it is also an inside look at just how ugly and stupid the recording industry can be. I didn't know the band, and really wasn't that fond of the music (though I guess they've had quite a bit of success), but the movie itself is a good documentary and offers some insight into that world that we normally wouldn't experience from the outside. Check it out if you are interested in these issues.

The music industry has been stiffing the artists for years. I just finished reading "Dangerous Kitchen- The Subversive World of Zappa" where part of the book is dedicated to our hero (Frank Zappa) suing the record companies who were knowingly screwing him. The record company would press extra copies (sometimes 10's of thousands) and not account for them, in essence not paying the per copy royalty due to the artist. Trouble brewing in the music industry? Their greed and stupidity will be their own undoing.

There's really nothing new here except it's digital. Nearly every black artist from the 50's and 60's got screwed beyond belief leaving them able to earn a living only through club performances. John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival can't even sing his own tunes without paying a royalty to the record label.

I find it funny, in a ironic sort of way, that the people the music industry is targeting (the rip and burn set) aren't paying off. I wonder why? He he.

It's interesting to hear the small music store owners telling their tales of woe in my market area. It's apparent to them that they are being squeezed out of the supply equation. Their wholesale prices are as high as the retail prices offered by the large chain stores. Problem is, the large chains don't offer anything that resembles a selection.

Please go back and read my post to your earlier thread. Do some research and connect the dots. These are frightening times we live in when big money guys get together to offer us limited choices for their benefit.

Spend some money on live entertainment. It's one good way to keep things alive until this either corrects itself or crashes and burns. I'm rooting for the latter.
Lugnut, I beg to differ. There is something new here. The music industry has never experienced the loss of sales to this degree. Kind of wild when you consider the amount of multiple formats that they now offer. The musicians? As you mentioned, they have always had to fight, scratch and claw their way though this industry. And many of them got screwed.

But also, musicians never had nor embraced the technology they now have available to them. That's changing. Let's just pray that the record companies don't find a method of polluting that portion of the technology also.

I have to wonder what the hell the "higher up's" in this industry are thinking.
I've wondered about this many times. Why are sales off so badly?
Is it because the baby boomer rush is past and there aren't the young people to fill the gap they left when they stopped buying new music??? I know there are many 35+ people who bought the Nora Jones disc, but honestly are 'we' out there buying most of the new releases?
Is the problem that the industry is more interested in marketing nubile maidens dressed in spagetti straps and little more, or foul mouthed sex maniacs who want to rape their mothers and kill their wife/girlfriend or both?
As a fourty-two year old I don't have any interest in either group. I don't think I'm alone in this.
So now sales are off, but the industry doesn't want to settle for less money. They have to screw the stupid bands out there, and hope the smart ones don't catch on.
Personally I think Incubus should be getting robbed blind, but that isn't the issue. The corporate suits are thieves. Kinda reminds me of Pink Floyd's album "Animals." People say "People are basically good," I think they're basically greedy. Think about it before you get mad at me!

The key to my post is "the rip and burn set". The ironic part is that Sony music wants the younguns to buy the CD's and the hardware part wants them to buy burners. Nevertheless, there's more going on than just a lack of quality music for us audiophooles. Nrchy has it right. Usually, greed works but this time it's a conspiracy and it simply deserves to fail....BIG TIME.

The entertainment industry is getting pretty desparate. They have already asked Congress to allow them to snoop inside our computers and unleash malicious code to crash and burn our machines. Without such approval they may launch such an effort offshore.
Nrchy, It kinda reminds me of another Pink Floyd song. Ya know, the one with the cash registers dubbed in?
"foul mouthed sex maniacs who want to rape their mothers"?

That would be Jim Morrison, right?
Yes, but only because the spirit of a dead person jumped into his body as their car passed by a terrible accident in the road.
A real simple equation that the record companies have not figured out yet:

lack of material = lack of sales

End of story.
It's sad how many copies of old favorites I have bought over the years because the new releases do not interest me. Is it possible that the new 'Bob Dylan, Pink Floyd, Doors, Jethro Tull, Gordon Lightfoot, ____________ (insert your favorite here) don't exist? Or don't the record companies want to take the time and money to push someone who is different enough than the former top sellers? I used to spend hours at the local record emporium, not I wish there was something to look for among all the releases I know I don't want.
Who's wrong here, me or industry?