Music industry nitwits…

I think everything I post for the rest of this month is going to be about the nitwits of the world. Heck, most of the time they’re monopolizing our attention unwillingly, so let’s give them some attention they probably don’t want. Mmmmkay?

Today the last of the big four record industry behemouths admitted what anyone with three still-firing neurons in the music industry has known for ages – the music you hear on the radio mostly gets there because the labels who release it pay and/or bribe radio programmers to play it. [tag]EMI[/tag] was the last to settle with the Attorney General of the State of New York in his payola case against them all.

The reality of the music business is that it’s so profoundly crooked, so inescapably warped as to be beyond absurd. What the depth of payola in the music biz means is that even the folks signing and marketing worthless shite like [tag]Britney Spears[/tag], [tag]Justin Timberlake[/tag], [tag]Coldplay[/tag], [tag]Eminem[/tag], et. al. think it’s worthless crap and have no faith that it’s going to get played on the radio unless they pay and/or bribe someone to make that happen.

Let me put it another way – no one ever had to bribe anyone to play any of [tag]Elvis Presley[/tag]’s early records. No graft was required to get [tag]Marvin Gaye[/tag] on your radio. When music is great there’s no doubting it and no need to force anyone to pay attention to it. Great art, be it music, painting, film or even TV is compelling in its own right. The public and the media don’t need to be swindled into paying attention to greatness. Heck, we’ll even pay attention to half-way goodness without anyone shucking and jiving us into it.

The money quote from [tag]the Times[/tag] story I’m referring to here appears at the end:

At the same time, executives developed tactics to deceive radio programmers into believing a song was popular. In a 2002 e-mail message, for example, an executive at [tag]Virgin Records[/tag], another EMI label, provided instructions to generate false requests for a [tag]Norah Jones[/tag] song, saying the callers should indicate they heard of the artist through a friend or television show. “Please make sure the callers are women 20-28 years old,” the e-mail said. “And please make sure they don’t get caught.”

And artists wonder what’s happening to their royalties? They look at their quarterly statements from the label and see $100,000 in promotional expenses for the quarter and think, “what the hell?” Well, there you go folks. Getting enough people of the right demographic to pick up their phones and bombard radio stations with requests for a record those stations had no intention or inclination to play is going to cost a pretty penny.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – the business model of the record industry is profoundly broken. These entities need to be shut down so that a new paradigm (yes, I actually used that word, I’m sorry) can take its place. Hopefully a new model that doesn’t involve mob tactics to get product sold.

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