Forget the money. You’ll never make as much as a banker.

What artists want today is power.

Forget the circle jerk of appearing at SXSW. That’s just preaching to the converted. People who are at the tail end of the dog, yes, the government and the rich are wagging the artists and most don’t even realize it.

Scratch an artist and he’ll complain. About the hoi polloi ripping him off. There’s very little rhetoric about the government, bankers or the rich, there’s just constant rabble-rousing against their brethren. It’s loser upon loser crime. With an occasional stab against the record labels, as if they owed musicians a life. With a twisted turn towards Live Nation, as if Ticketmaster is responsible for all the world’s problems.

I’ll clue you in on something. The executives at the record labels and Live Nation are smarter than the artists. They realize we live in a country of winners and losers and they don’t want to end up with the short end of the stick. Ergo 360 deals and platinum packages and all kinds of ways to make the executives rich.

But none of them are as rich as the bankers.

And if you think record labels and Live Nation have power, you know nothing about how this country really works.

Fortune 100 companies have power. They’re abusing you and ripping you off as I type this. But today the artist’s goal is to suck up to the fat cats, suck some milk from the tit, get an endorsement, charge for a product placement, don’t you see you’re a tool of the system? That the owners of this country are laughing at you?

Artists have incredible power. But they need to use it to their advantage, they need to turn against the rich.

Artists are not rich.

Bankers are rich.

U2 toured for two years and made $750 million. Let’s call the net $400 million, which is way too high, but for the sake of argument, we’ll do it.

U2 splits the money five ways. The four band members and manager Paul McGuinness. That breaks down to $80 million apiece.

And U2 doesn’t pay taxes. Not any to speak of.

So that’s $40 million a year.

But it was more than two years worth of work.

And for the last half a year there’s been no touring income to speak of. And recording revenue has plunged. And if the band went back on the road right now, they’d have trouble selling out stadiums, business was a bit soft in the end. Hell, one can argue that U2 may never be able to sell out stadiums for two years again.

And U2 is the biggest band in the world.

But there are bankers who make $20 million a year, every year. Yup, year in and year out. There are so many people in finance and helming Fortune 100 companies who make eight figures it would make your head spin. And this is net. There are no managers, attorneys or high-priced accountants. How many artists make eight figures a year, year in and year out… ESSENTIALLY NONE!

Are you hearing me yet?

Artists can do one of two things. They can resign themselves to being second class citizens, minstrels who thrive on dope and sex and the fun of playing…

Or they can use their power to rally their audience for change.

Artists have power, far in excess of Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum or President Obama. They just don’t use it.

I’m not saying they’ve got to sing political songs. They just have to act in political ways.

Kind of like SOPA. The netizens stopped the government and the content industries cold.

The artists can stop the government and bankers cold, overnight, if they’d just realize they’re the enemy, not their friend. That by tearing down the wall separating the rich from the poor is how they make more money, not by bitching about their customers and Live Nation.

No one with a brain is going into the music industry. Music is the new sports. Where wannabes beat each other up to play for the owner of the plantation. To paraphrase Chris Rock, it’s the owners who are rich, not the players.

Hell, Simon Cowell is richer than any reality contestant ever.

And he’s got not a fraction of the money of Rupert Murdoch or Sumner Redstone.

We’re fighting amongst ourselves and the owners are laughing.

Pete Townshend once sang of a note, pure and easy, that had millions of people cheering. Just one note, and people LISTEN!

But it’s got to be the right note.

Credit Lady Gaga. She’s trying to change the world, fighting for gay rights and trying to eliminate bullying.

But she’s a party of one. Where are the other artists using their power for change?

They’ve abdicated it in a race to catch up with those who are truly rich.

But that’s positively futile. A musician can’t catch Lloyd Blankfein, not in this game.

But musicians can change the game.

We want what we once had. A level playing field where an artist can be as rich as a corporate executive. The executives are not going to cede power, the musicians are going to have to take it.

I’m ready to grab mine, are you ready to grab yours?

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