Tonight’s episode of Frontline on PBS is ESSENTIAL VIEWING. Check your local listings and record this thing.
What shocked me the most was how they presented the major label/big money/expensive video route as the ONLY way to go.
I’d rather have heard more about how to repeat Russell Simmons’ success OUTSIDE the mainstream. (I love the quote where Russell is heard to have said, “sure, white guys, stay out of this genre, I’ll take your money!”)
While I’d have loved to see them mention how indies are getting around the major label/radio/MTV monster, they really prove their point, that it’s more or less impossible to sell hundreds of thousands of records without a major label’s promo team, and the support of radio.
The important question is, once radio promo and publicity budgets factor in, are these artists really making as much money as an equally as marketable indie who doesn’t have those expenses, and sells maybe 50,000 records from years of constant touring?
One would think that the indie might be better off, since without a label their profit margin would be much greater, but I’ve yet to see an artist pull this off.
You bring up a great point — the documentary didn’t even touch on what happens to artists who get cewed up by the major label system.
Artists who discover too late that all the money that a label spends on ineffective promotion, radio campaigns, packaging and what not gets deducted from an artist’s royalties. AND, if the royalty doesn’t cover it, the artist is PERSONALLY liable for that debt and cannot record (and, in some cases, perform) until that debt is paid off.
Trouble is, there’s no way for you to earn any new money, because the label doesn’t want to put out any more of your records. And yet they won’t release you to go make records on your own.
It’s like a nightmare credit card that you can never pay off!
I was really disappointed in this show. They didn’t mention the indie scene and what people have been doing to bypass all of these problems at all!
I’m not a “problems” guy. I want to see solutions.
Still, a good program for anybody in the music business to watch.
For those who missed the broadcast, the Frontline program “The Way The Music Died” can be viewed online. Here’s the link: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/music/view/
Thanks for the heads up, Joe.