music artists leaving major labels

31 03 2008

There are now more famous music artists leaving the major labels and the RIAA.  It’s about time!  Of course Prince and Public Enemy did a while back, but now more have, notably Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails, Oasis, Jamiroquai, and Madonna.  (Actually, Madonna signed a deal with a different type of big company, so it’s not a total defection, but it might get their attention.  The other bands are taking the unsigned route.)

I’m so glad some major artists are finally doing this! The RIAA definitely does not have the artists’ interests in mind.  The big labels take so much of the money that a band has to sell anywhere from 250,000 to 500,000 CDs to make a living.  Selling 250,000 CDs at $15 each results in revenue of $3,750,000, and yet the band can barely make a living off the small portion they receive.  So the label and distribution channels get millions of dollars while the people with the talent are getting ripped off.  It’s time for the model to change.

Being a musician, this really hits home to me.  I used to dream of having a recording contract, but after I learned about the industry, I realized it’s not as glamorous as it seems.  Thankfully, the Internet is helping to make a level playing field, albeit slowly.

I know, the labels do a lot of promotion for certain artists, and they have connections, and they fund the recording when the band is starting out (which has to be paid back).  So they have their place.  But they’ve been ripping artists off for a long time.  To give you a sense of perspective, I could make a good living by selling just 4,000 CDs a year at $15 each.  For a full band it would take more, of course, but it wouldn’t take hundreds of thousands of sales like it does when you’re on a major label.

I realize the walls of the RIAA aren’t crumbling down yet.  That may take years, or it may not even happen.  But I hope there’s some type of revolution in the music industry where artists are paid more fairly.

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3 responses

25 06 2008
fabulous hannah

i was proud of radiohead for the way they handled things…you could go their site and either make a donation, or download for free. pretty cool. i’m interested in knowing how much they made from donations.

26 06 2008
Beppo

I’m also curious how much they made from donations, if it was enough to live on. I wonder how many of their fans would download the music, listen to it a lot, but never make a donation. I’ve heard from a number of people who expect music to be free, because they got hooked on Napster, Kazaa, and the other file-sharing services.

Of course I would like it if music was legally free, because that would save me a lot of money, but as a musician, I understand the importance of the artist getting paid. They have to make a living too, and even the ones that make it on the radio aren’t necessarily making the big bucks like many people suppose. (The music labels probably are, but the artists typically aren’t paid well unless they sell millions of CDs or have successful tours.)

30 06 2008
Washington

ya’ll talk about confusing stuff that confuses DC…

DC

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