Music Brexit

We already had our Brexit moment in the music business, it was called Napster. The industry was coasting along on high-priced CDs and catalog replacement, with lowered-artist royalty payments to boot. But when given the option the public revolted against the one good track on an overpriced album model and stole the wares willy-nilly. What else is the public pissed about?


You can’t get a good seat at a fair price and all the good seats go to scalpers. In an era of transparency, all we’ve got is opaqueness. The industry thinks that it’s winning, but it’s not.

A. Availability

There must be a chart of the tiers of availability. The levels of pre-sales. The number of holdbacks. You curry favor by providing information. Once the public knows the game, it can adjust.

B. Fees

An insider’s game wherein the fees are held out of artists’ percentage yet paid by the fans which blame Ticketmaster and other ticketing companies. All-in pricing is required. The fees are part of the ticket price, without them the business would collapse.

C. Pricing

Either raise the prices or go paperless, those are the only options. Instead, the acts fall back on a position of not wanting to look greedy, but they end up pissing off their fans all the while.


Lineups, bad food and endless advertising. The whole world has gone upscale, but the industry’s venues look and are run like third world entities. Of course there have been improvements, but so much more can be done, assuming money is spent, but no one wants to spend on the little people, the attendees, the way no one worried about the working class that lost their jobs and couldn’t make ends meet.


This happened once before, the artists appealed to the public, but it backfired, because performers were seen as rich crybabies. The public wants instant access to everything, it wants a free tier. Raise ad prices, negotiate behind the scenes, but this is one area where sunshine is doing the industry a disservice. Nobody likes a complainer.


Twenty-odd minutes of commercials per hour??

Terrestrial radio has a disinformation campaign as good as the Koch Brothers’. It keeps saying listening numbers are sky high when seemingly no one under twenty tunes in and oldsters complain too. There are options, and radio has been hurt, despite what stations say.


Only one flavor, vanilla? Baskin-Robbins would go out of business! The industry is responsible for promoting a broader spectrum of music. Don’t say people don’t want it, they do. It just has to be promoted, people have to be exposed to it. All major labels must sign long term deals with non-pop acts, invest in them… This is what Warner Brothers did in the seventies, and then it became the most credible, powerful and profitable label. Bring true artist development back, not the long term promotion of one album, but the ability for an act to find itself and grow over a number of projects.


Straight percentage splits with acts, which all recoup at the same rate. Get the artists on your side and they’ll not only be happy, but they’ll testify and more people will want to join in.


Call it charity. Instead of a NOW collection for the already big, how about a sampler of what needs to be heard, fifteen tracks every couple of months, with a tour to follow. It’s the industry’s obligation to break acts. Used to be labels and radio worked hand in hand to do this, but labels are less profitable and radio is too codified, praying to the dollar as opposed to culture.


The endless sponsorship deals, the endless cross-promotions, have undercut the credibility of music, which was once an outside art form that spoke truth, that drove the culture, that everybody rallied around. But now that the goal is to become a brand and sell out to a brand it’s hard to believe in acts. There’s plenty of money in the industry, and that which is seen as credible makes more, just ask Adele.

You get out ahead of your audience, you envision potential problems and work on solutions. But the music industry has been a short term, desperate operation for far too long. No wonder nobody with a brain wants to get involved, it’d be like joining the Mafia in 2016, after the government put a dent in all that.

You start off with respect. Then you move on to transparency. Then you get in bed with your customers, you make them feel involved, that they have a voice.

We haven’t had that spirit here since 1969.

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