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Record industry says: Music stars ‘still need labels’. They are wrong.

March 9, 2010

A BBC website article, Music stars ‘still need labels’ , reports on comments made by global music industry body the IFPI.

IFPI (International Federation of the Phonographic Industry) chief executive John Kennedy said attempting to forge a career online, competing with millions of other acts on MySpace, was like ‘screaming in space’.

‘There’s not really any evidence of anybody succeeding having gone direct,’he said.

Utter nonsense! It all depends on what you call success. If you mean being a household name but all your rights being owned by a record label, all your creative decisions ebing made by marketing people, and being vulnerable to being ‘dropped’ by the label at the whim of an accountant, then maybe you have a point, Mr Kennedy. Some of us define success very differently.

The industry dons quoted in the article also fail to mention that in a standard industry record contract all the money they claim to spend nurturing talent is recoupable from the artist’s share of any royalties earned. In other words, although a label can help with cash flow and marketing, the artist pays for their own fame. The labels end up owning all the copyrights and publishing with a traditional deal and can effectively decide whether an artist works or not. How often has an artist you liked suddenly disappeared from public view? It’s probable that a label withdrew support in order to redirect cash to to fund ‘the latest thing’ but refused to allow the artist to sign to someone else or release their own music independently.

That’s why more and more muscians do not deal with record companies but do it all themselves. And, yes, they are successful but not according to 1950s standards. Bands are selling downloads and CDS, gigging, earning money, selling merchandise and building strong reputations for themselves and the old dinosaur labels hate that they’re not the ones raking in the cash. That’s what this whinging is all about.

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