|I often wonder about the morals of the music industry - wherever in the world, or whatever level of the industry 'food chain' we look at.
Every artist anywhere 'knows' that the major labels and all of the assorted industry professionals are corrupt, money-grabbing, law-breaking [or law-making], manipulative, soul-destroying, insensitive and despicable, while everyone in the business end of the industry 'knows' that all artists/performers are narrow-minded, selfish, amateurish, neurotic, sell-outs waiting to happen.
Every promoter 'knows' that all artists are back-stabbing, unprofessional, money-hungry con-merchants, while artists 'know' that every promoter who ever existed is in it for the money, is never going to put themself out, is a failed rock star and is always on the look out for the next 'sure thing'.
Every artist 'knows' that everyone in media is on the take, has no interest in real music, is on a power-trip, is a failed rock-star and will never help out without 'advance payment', while media people 'know' that every artist is a user, a bluffer, is brainless, is desperately in need of a Manager [so they don't have to communicate directly with the 'industry'] and is as confident as nobody else in the world that he/she/they are the 'next big thing'.
So why do we all bother?
Artists know that the industry can take them further than they will ever be able to take themselves, while the industry knows that without artists - even the ones they manufacture for themselves - they'll all be reduced to selling blank CD's.
Artists, at every point along their respective paths, need some facet of the industry and - conversely - the industry, at every point along it's corporate development, needs artists.
Whether it is radio, print media or TV; local, national or international promoters; small, medium or large record labels; independent record stores or the big chains; or lawyers, accountants, managers, agents etc, all artists need to realise that there is an industry out there but it is a business and it has certain business requirements.
The industry, on the other hand needs to realise that all artists are people, not machines; that songs are works of art, not products; that trust is a pre-requisite, not a swear word; that development is natural, not contractual; that help is an opportunity for relationship-building, not an opportunity for claw-back. In case it still needs to be spelt out, in my world, the industry includes everything from bedroom performers to major labels and everything in between.
Some of us in the industry have never been in a band, have never been on a stage, have never been able to string a lyric together, would have difficulty telling an 'E' chord from an 'E' tablet, or wouldn't know which end of a guitar is 'right way up'.
Others in the industry are expert in their chosen field. Some are even multi-faceted and expert in many areas. However, I have never heard of anyone who is naturally expert in every part of the music industry from playing and writing, through recording and mastering, through marketing and distribution, to International sales and licensing. There is no way, therefore, that anyone can completely manage their own career without the assistance of at least someone else.
Despite years of trying, independent-minded artists have not, and will not, 'overthrow' the industry. Despite years of trying, record labels have not, and will not, take control of every facet of the developing scene.
'Independent' should not mean artists and individuals who are inherently anti-industry, it should mean artists and individuals who are informed and educated enough to do whatever they can without the industry and then choose to engage the relevant industry professionals as and when they need them.
Today's developing artists [meaning those who develop 'organically', not those who are manufactured or groomed] have every opportunity - moreso than ever before - to inform themselves and avail of other independent minded organisations.
Whether local collectives and other non-professional organisations, or semi-anonymous international
internet-based organisations, there are literally thousands of sources for developing artists to learn what they need to do in order to progress and, most importantly, to then go and do it.
They will then have to call on the established industry big-boys only when there is something that they cannot achieve themselves.
The flip side of that is the established industry big-boys will have to work harder, or fairer, to secure their own future. They will also, in my opinion, find that they will become progressively less involved with developing artists and trends and more involved with those for whom an International development is an option. Unfortunately, I feel it will also see the big-boys concentrate more on manufactured acts and occasional fads and novelties.
Ultimately, while the 'industry' will see it's overall control whittled away, they will always have a role. While artists become more and more educated and informed, there will always be a time when growth or expansion is stifled without a larger organisation getting involved.
For those reasons, and because it is silly and immature to define the 'industry' in terms of 'them versus us', the question remains: why can't we alljust get on with it?