Last night I was watching an interview on the Hour with Billy Corgan (who is from the Smashing Pumpkins for you who know nothing about music). For part of it he was talking about how horrible some of the things that record labels try to do to artists are. Now I couldn't hear half of what he was saying since four letter words are censored by CBC apparently. But I'm guessing that he was pretty fired up about it. He talked about some talented artists that we just have never heard of because of the way the label industry has destroyed them.
So do I believe this?
Case Study #1. Radiohead. Formerly on the EMI label.
Lets go back over a year.
Radiohead release their album In Rainbows themselves through their website in a pay-what-you-want format. They also are selling a boxset with a bunch of goodies including artwork and vinyl.
EMI decides to release a boxset featuring all their studio albums they put out on their label. And it was released the same time as Radiohead's boxset. EMI bitter? Cashing in on an artist they lost? Perhaps.
The band talk about how they don't really like what EMI is doing with their music, but there isn't much they can do since their former label owns it. Thom made a comment about if they wanted to make even more money they would release them on vinyl.
Fast forward a few months.
Radiohead are going on tour for thier In Rainbows Tour.
EMI decides to release a Best Of Radiohead CD/DVD/VINYL to coincide with the start of the tour. More greed? Perhaps.
Fast forward to August:
EMI must have heard Thom's suggestion for making money as the label reissues their records on Vinyl.
Fast forward to January:
EMI plans to release all of Radiohead's singles (including their Drill EP) on Vinyl. Okay we get the point. They're greedy. They've milked Radiohead as much as they can right?
A few days later:
EMI will be releasing Radiohead's first three albums in extended format. So some bonus songs DVDs etc thrown in.
Okay, so you get my point? Radiohead may be off their label, but they're milking this for all its worth, and its disgusting. Its unfortunate how much of a business the music industry can be sometimes. No wonder Ryan Adams announced today that he is done with music. And its no wonder that some bands go under so quickly when they are being forced by record labels to do such and such. Look at Coldplay for example. X&Y was a huge sucess, but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that they were being constricted by the label. The whole thing reminds me of farming. Sure you can load the farmland with fertilizers and the crop will grow huge that year. But soon the soil will be so depleted of nutrients the plants will be useless.
So my point: greed is a powerful thing and it is destroying music. It would be better just to give bands more control to make the music that THEY want and in turn what their actual fans will want to listen to.