reply to post by Klassified
Iron Maiden did the right thing. I'm in my 50's. When I was a young man, we recorded music off the radio, and played the tapes in our cars. Yet
all the major bands that we listened to were still successful, and record stores still sold albums. Include me in the bunch that bought thousands of
those albums. What happened? Greed! That's what happened. The music industry has gotten greedy, just like every other corporate industry.
You're older than I thought, then; we're contemporaries.
Before I say anything else, let me say this: I owe my life as a dedicated music lover and guitar player to pirated music.
When I was growing up, my country suffered under a Socialist government that banned the import of 'luxuries' like records. A few people got sent LPs
(nobody bothered with singles, obviously) by friends and relations abroad, or smuggled them home in their luggage if they were rich (or
well-connected) enough to travel abroad. Generously, they passed the spoils around, and the rest of us would record them on cassette tapes. Thus did
we discover the great music of the late Sixties and the Seventies. At the end of that decade we sent that government packing, but it was still a long
time before records and then CDs became available. And most of them were still bootlegs, but that's another story...
(One thing about cassettes — it was a little easier to learn guitar riffs off them than off records, so long as you had a cassette deck with one of
those little mechanical counters that told you how far along the tape had run... gosh, that thought brings back a few memories.)
Having said all that, I'd like to point out that the contract/studio/royalty system is not a new invention, Klassified. It goes back to Victorian
times, when the product on offer was sheet music, not records.
The system arose because there was a need for it. As long as the need was there it worked well. And yes, it did tend to deliver audiences and artists
into the hands of big tastemakers: managers, record companies, radio networks, booking and representation agencies. I'm sure they were all in it for
the money, but some of them delivered big-time to both the artists in their portfolios and to us, the audience. People like the
, Clive Davis
were surely in it for more than just the money. They knew music and they loved
music. There were many others like them. Some, like Albert Grossman and Berry Gordy, tended to exploit their artists in nasty ways, but they still
helped create great music and bring it to the world's attention. Would Neil Young have had any kind of career without
? It's debatable.
On the other hand, the system also created monsters like Colonel Tom Parker, the man who neutered Elvis.
We are told now that the system has outlived its usefulness, that the internet has rendered it obsolete. I wonder. It seems to me that the balance of
power has merely shifted to other tastemakers.
I tend to come by music the old-fashioned way, so I'm no expert in who says what goes any more, on the internet or anywhere else. I'll tell you what I
have noticed, though: neither songs nor artists survive very long in the new egalitarian environment of the internet. This is a pity, because artists
need time to grow, to explore and refine their art. Operating under the protection of a ferocious but dedicated manager or A&R guru, or within the
relative safety of a corporate environment — even one as shark-infested as the music industry — gave some the chance to develop as artists —
even as it gave others the chance to turn themselves into bloated, self-indulgent parodies of themselves (we were discussing one famous case in
another thread a few days ago). I have a strange, creeping feeling that tells me we're missing out on a lot of good music, simply because the
Darwinistic competition of the internet has made it impossible for musicians to survive long enough to create it.
I think Iron Maiden have made yet another very shrewd business move. They are veterans of the old-style music industry, and they have
at least three keen business brains among them: Rob Smallwood, their manager, vocalist Bruce Dickinson and last but not least their founder and
driving force, Steve Harris. When it comes to knowing how to survive in the music industry, Metallica are infants compared to Iron Maiden.
edit on 26/12/13 by Astyanax because: of old age.