We Don’t Need No Steenkeeng Record Companies

First Radiohead; now Nine Inch Nails. This makes two popular bands whose latest CDs were released online. They’ve completely bypassed the recording industry. There’s nowhere else for this trend to go but UP.

Another dinosaur is slooowly losing its grip. And it couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of douchebags. The world is full of meanspirited amoral industries, but when it comes to taking a shit on the general public, the Recording Industry Association of America stands head and shoulders above the rest.

As you know, the RIAA has sued thousands of individuals. For the heinous crime of downloading music for free, they’re often sued for hundreds of thousands of dollars each. OK, so it’s wrong. But a $200,000 fine?

On top of that, the RIAA has virtually strangled Internet radio. Sky-high royalty fees — for which the RIAA is responsible — have forced a lot of webcasters to close down. Their new fees (retroactive to 2006) are proportionally much higher than those paid by large commercial broadcasters. It was nice while it lasted.

Record companies have also been catching it from Big Box retailers. Because CD sales have gone way down lately, Target and WalMart (among others) are setting aside less shelf space for CDs. And as fewer CDs are available in stores, the public will buy fewer CDs, stores will set aside even less space for CDs, and the cycle continues…

Personally, I probably won’t make use of these online CDs. I’ve never downloaded anything (but I listen to music on YouTube a lot). I’m one of those Luddites who has to have a solid physical record reel-to-reel tape eight-track cassette CD right in front of me, with a label that says “Name of Song” by “Performer.” (But I still tape music off the radio, which supposedly brought the recording industry to its knees in the 1970s.)

But as people buy fewer CDs and get more music online, the RIAA will ultimately go the way of the covered wagon repairman. It can’t happen soon enough.

6 Responses to “We Don’t Need No Steenkeeng Record Companies”

  1. Jet Netwal Says:

    Such a classic case of NOT responding to your market share. The reason sales are down is in the mirror. Between forcing consumers to rebuy the recordings (I have albums, and I’m sure you do too, as well as cassettes) with each sucessive technological improvement, to the punitive “damages” they want to enforce on the parents of 14 year old who just want to groove, it’s pathetic to see how far they’ve missed their own boat.

    Don’t even get me started on the fact that much of my great stuff on vinyl was never reissued on cd…

    Assinine, assinie industry.

  2. steve Says:

    Not to defend the industry… it isn’t the record company that got really screwed it was the copyright holder of the songs. Sometimes in some deals the artist only made money if they wrote the song. And a lot of times, especially in pop music (Britney and the like) the songwriter wasn’t the singer. They were someone in the background that could write.

    I don’t get your technology advancement argument Jet. Formats have changed for years. First you had the shellacked records with would break in half if you set them down wrong, so you had to buy another one… then they converted to vinyl when plastics were readily available but then stereophonic sound came out so you had to get that too because there was an advancement in quality. Then you had wear and tear on those… then the 8 tracks for the cars with the click 4 minutes and 22 seconds into Light My Fire.

    The industry shit when recordable tape was available in the 80s because people could now…”God Forbid” record off the radio. But… guess what the RIAA picked up a mechanical royalty for each cassette tape sold so that argument became pointless.

    Then CD’s in 1984 came out and that changed everything. Why? Better quality and easier to use. So naturally you had to go buy a better machine and adapt to the new technology. But there were flops… Ask Sony about the mini disc.

    Tom… your argument fails me with the fines the RIAA imposed. Copyright grants you 5 magic rights for your product. When you own copyright, you own the right to copy, distribute, perform, display and manufacture your work for a fee. It is yours from the time you wrote the song until 35 years after your death. Don’t blame the record company or the RIAA for the rules, this is Title 17 of US Code and it contains the rules Copyright. (Which is derived from free speech) If your work is copied… then manufactured and then distributed, you have people sending this stuff for free around the world without your express written consent… isn’t that the same as stealing? And isn’t stealing punishable by law…? Oh…. but you probably think it is okay to steal from a big company?

    I am a musician, sadly without a record deal, and I am appalled at the thought processes people use to slam the whole concept of illegal downloading and what a “dinosaur” of an industry who’s only means of making money is re-selling and re-packaging an product as time goes by. What about the people who lost their jobs? I’ve been to Hollywood, Beverly Hills and Burbank… I worked inside these record companies. I spent six months interning at a big record company. It wasn’t all about sex, drugs and rock and roll. It was people like you and I building Excel sheets, delivering mail, answering the phone and being an important cog in the business world. These jobs are gone!! The jobs didn’t go to China either. People stopped buying the product.

    My theory on the downfall of music is this:

    No artist development. No one takes the time or money to develop an artist and tour them around the country. It takes corporate sponsorship. American Idol is an accelerated process, but what do we get from it? Karoake hacks singing other people’s songs from the past.

    Music is crap. There is no real new sound out there that kids are running to like Madonna and Michael Jackson in the 80’s or KISS in the 70’s, or Elvis, or the Stones or the Beatles… Led Zeppelin… bands that sold millions of records in their day.

    The other fall of music is related to the rise of another industry (and this is well documented by pop music buffs): Video games killed the record industry… In 1977 arcades started popping up everywhere. Anytime you could spend a quarter, you did so at an arcade… so what happened? Well, in 1977, for example, the four members of KISS decided to ship 1,000,000 solo albums for each member. (A million record shipment was common at this time for big artists like Kiss) And guess what? There were 4 million records in the stores that kids wouldn’t buy, not that they sucked (Maybe the Peter Criss one did) but because it was too much. It killed the business all around and there was disco. The kids were in the arcade and not buying records. It took Michael Jackson, Prince and Madonna (as well as MTV) to bring the kids back to the stores in 1983. Those three are the biggest reason for format changes to cassette and CD at that time because the kids wanted the records… The record companies could have kept on printing vinyl but why when there was money to be made on a $16 CD that cost 2 bucks to make. Then hair bands took over… we got a little bump from Grunge… the pre-pubescent kids in the 1990’s and it was over… the record industry died way before Napster… And what did we have grow through the 90’s and 2000’s here? World of Warcraft… XBOX games… Playstations and so on and so forth. Kids are buying these things and not records and cds. Maybe Guitar Hero will save it all but if you note… most of the music is from the 80’s and 70’s.

  3. Jet Netwal Says:

    I was speaking merely as a consumer, Steve. I remember when cassette tapes came out, and the articles in Rolling Stone and others about how the record companies didn’t want consumers taping their albums to play in their cars, or taping the radio (back when radio was actually pretty good). They expected us to re-buy our albums on cassette if we wanted to play them in our cars. Moronic.

    I don’t pretend to understand the mechanics of the industry like a music professional does, but as a schmoe who likes music, the recording industry earns no love from me. Is the technology better as we go along? Sure. Do I wish my “Stand in the Fire” had been released on cd instead of lingering in obscurity until Zevon’s death, most definitely.

    There was a lot of great music lost for 20 years until resurrected via mp3, and it was because the industry is about the money and not the music. As a consumer, that sucks.

    I think it’s no coincidence that rock is rising again, via artists like Jet. To them, this is something they had to work to find, since the classic rock stations play 200 songs that span 25 years. Really, it’s just a damn shame how narrow and irrelevant the music industry has made music.

  4. Jet Netwal Says:

    Oh, and there is some really good music at the indie level. I suggest you check out The Fratelli’s if you haven’t done so already. Really great stuff, lyrics, riffs, structure… total package. Kick ass.

  5. steve Says:

    The Fratellis rock… I bought that on the way up to Tahoe last summer and just rocked out the whole time.

    Great indie band from Sacramento is Jackpot. Real laid back but great songs. F+ is an awesome album.

    I put the last Beastie Boys album on my iPod recently and can’t believe what I heard after not listening for a couple of years. Why that record, To The Five Boroughs did not do better is kind of dumb. No promotion behind it.

    One of my favorite bands, Cracker, stuck it to their former record company a while back. They were with Virgin and Virgin dumped them off the label. Then Virgin repacked a greatest hits set for release after they were booted. So Cracker, on their new indie label, re-recorded the greatest hits that Virgin was putting out and released it the same day. So here you had two Cracker greatest hits albums and if you were a real fan, you were going to buy the new versions of the songs that had those subtle differences that the old recordings didn’t. Take the accordion on “Eurotrash Girl”, that wasn’t on the original version that Virgin was releasing… It was awesome. David Lowery is the man.

  6. Jet Netwal Says:

    I grabbed some Cracker and will give them a listen. Thanks for the tip.

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