Record Labels = Big Bullies

EMI is suing my company, MP3tunes. Some things never change. My years as a recording artist in L.A. taught me much about the music biz - the men in suits constantly pushing for the mass-marketable while you hold desperately to your art. "Show more skin...stop being political...write a love song with a pop hook...lose weight." These nice fellas dangle money, contracts and cheering crowds kindly in your face. They pay you mechanical and performance royalties to demonstrate your 'need' for their power and infrastructure. And the term 'sell-out' lurks as a warning among all true artists. MP3.com came along and revolutionized music via technology (thank you my beloved geeks!). Musicians and music fans didn't need major labels for distribution, record sales, promotion or tours. The labels panicked and sued MP3.com into oblivion. Michael Robertson gathered his remaining assets and regrouped. Musicians lost their new home. The record industry blundered and diluted the creation of the digital music age by shutting down the original MP3.com and crippling the digital music experience with major-label marketing fluff and proprietary file formats with DRM. Here we are seven years later -- an entire octave on the digital musical scale has been played and we're back to the root note (the 'Do'). Will the major labels evolve or just recur in their same mistakes? CD sales have fallen drastically. iTunes and other 'i' products leave us hanging in a proprietary web. MySpace is a technically weak and inferior place for rising musicians to develop and market themselves. Major labels sell bubblegum singles, Emo and teenbeat music that attracts fleeting fans -- that only push the next quarter's earnings. And young folks think music should all be free. Where now oh mighty record labels? Shall we cower to you with your threats and monetary muscle while your productivity and profitability plummet? Do you still believe your 'business' is more valuable than the artists' backs upon whom you built your business? Will you now perpetuate your thievery and steal from the techies too? I do believe there is a seed of goodness in all people. I saw it in the faces of the 'men in suits' that paid our company a visit last week. No one wants to give up power, money or control. But could you give it up to save your own business (without the need to extort, steal and bully others)? Ayn Rand wrote, "Money is not the tool of the moochers, who claim your product by tears, or of the looters, who take it from you by force. Money is made possible only by men who produce." I challenge the record labels to return to producing something valuable, working in true partnership with others -- then they just might find themselves honestly successful once more. ~Em

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